Our Books

Shape Shifter: A Minidoka Concentration Camp Legacy
by Lawrence Matsuda

Lawrence Matsuda’s collection of poems in Shape Shifter: A Minidoka Concentration Camp Legacy express the reverberating trauma of his family’s imprisonment in the Minidoka Concentration Camp during WWII. The Matsuda family was among 120,000 Japanese Americans who, without due process—not committing a single crime, were forced by our government into United States concentration camps at the hands of U.S. soldiers armed with bayonets. Their crime was their race. Although the poems reflect anger and a deep sense of sadness, there are also poems that display Matsuda’s range in a lighter shift to his whimsical and playful side, reflecting both resilience, the healing balm of humor and the transcendence of the human spirit.

"Larry Matsuda beautifully and sorrowfully captures the deep and painful emotions suffered by Japanese Americans who endured an unconstitutional mass incarceration during WWII. Delving into the raw scars of survivors and descendants, Matsuda brings the reader closer to understanding the impact injustices have on individuals, families, communities, and our greater society."
- Robyn Achilles, Executive Director Friends of Minidoka

Gaining Public Trust: A Profile of Civic Engagement
by Norman B. Rice

When Norm Rice was elected mayor of Seattle, it was the most divisive, polarized time in the city's history. African Americans were only 10% of the city's population and Norm's election was ground-breaking. It was 1989 and the city was torn apart over the issue of busing to achieve school desegregation. On the same ballot with Norm was an anti-busing initiative. The anti-busing measure passed, Norm was elected and he became the mayor of a city tearing itself apart.

With candor and wisdom, Norm Rice chronicles his journey to leadership and public service, and the lessons he learned about civic engagement through his remarkable success in bringing a divided city together.

"Norm's biggest strength is that he listens to people."
- King County Democrat Central Committee

"Norm Rice was one of the best mayors Seattle has ever had. Rare is the public leader who manages to be highly effective and well-regarded. Rice has been both."
- Seattle Times - December 12, 2013

NORM RICE was Mayor of Seattle for two terms, 1990-1998. He is a graduate of the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and the recipient of the University of Washington's highest honor, Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus. He is the first Seattle mayor to ever become President of the United States Conference of Mayors.

Proceeds from the sale of Gaining Public Trust are donated to the Northwest African American Museum.

George Beasley's Better Angel
by Jean Davies Okimoto

George Beasley is widowed, his friend Eddie is divorced, and they're both pushing eighty. Together they attempt to pick up the pieces of their lives by trying to open an Airbnb in George's basement. In this story of aging, grief and loss that's laced with laughter, George Beasley's Better Angel celebrates the help we get from our friends, and the help that lies within, when we can listen for it.

"With great heart and delightful humor, George and Eddie negotiate the inevitable complexities of aging. Theirs is a love song to the human heart."
- Juli Morser, fmr. Arts Editor, Vashon-Maury Beachcomber

"Irreconcilable after his wife’s death, George Beasley finds a new life through a hilarious, quirky collection of friends and neighbors … Jean Davies Okimoto is Vashon Island’s new Betty MacDonald."
- Bruce Haulman, author of Vashon-Maury Island and A Brief History of Vashon Island

"This is a wise and tender tale about navigating loss and loneliness, and the healing power of hope, nature and friends."
- Nancy Katica and Laurie Stewart, Vashon Bookshop

"George Beasley's Better Angel is a beautiful, loving, life affirming balm in a world of hostile divisions, reminding us that loving relations are essential in each of our lives. I'm grateful for the easy, masterful telling of this story. I'm still in the afterglow of having read it."
- Barry Grosskopf, MD author of Forgive Your Parents, Heal Yourself and Hidden in Plain Sight (paperback edition)

JEAN DAVIES OKIMOTO is a playwright and author of over 24 books for adults, young adults and children. Among her many awards are Smithsonian Notable Book, American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, International Reading Association Reader’s Choice Award and the Washington State Governor’s Award.

My Name Is Not Viola
by Lawrence Matsuda
Introduction by Tess Gallagher

My Name is Not Viola exemplifies what happens when historic racism and government policies intersect. Hanae Tamura strives to live a dignified life under undignified conditions. She manages to find balance even after being forcibly incarcerated twice: once in the WWII Minidoka, Idaho Concentration Camp without due process and again as a mental patient. Her lifelong quest to deal with the long-term consequences of America’s betrayal is a must read for those who value liberty and justice for all.

"The Story of America's WWII concentration camps has been told from many angles, but never has the psychological trauma of reentry been presented with such heartbreaking intensity."
- Jay Rubin, author of The Sun Gods and several Haruki Murakami novels

"This magical and life-affirming book is a beautiful addition to the epic story of the Japanese in American."
- John Gordon Hill, Film Director

LAWRENCE MATSUDA was born in the Minidoka, Idaho, Idaho War Relocation Camp (concentration camp) during World War II. Matsuda has written two books of poetry, a third in collaboration with Tess Gallagher, and a graphic novel about the WWII Japanese American 442 Regimental Combat Team. Animated sections of the novel won regional Emmys in 2015 and 2016. Matsuda has a Ph.D in Education from the University of Washington.

Where We Came From by The Bookshop Memoir Group

They meet in a bookshop on Vashon Island, Washington. Every two weeks, they sit in a circle in comfortable chairs, surrounded by books and listen to each other's stories. They all live on the island now, but home in their early years was found in places as varied as New York, Lebanon, Ohio, Switzerland, and West Virginia. They write about their life experiences: vignettes from their journeys on this planet that often bring laughter and sometimes tears, but always tap into our common humanity. In this collection, created primarily for their friends and family, the Bookshop Memoir Group (aka Memorites): Lynne Ameling, Colleen Brooks, Alix Clarke, Cherry Champagne, Tom Craighead, Michael Monteleone, Jane Neubauer, Kathy Olsen, Trudy Rosemarin, Jessika Satori, Arlene Schade, Barbara Wells, and C.G. Zantz share stories of where they came from and some of the things that happened along the way.

On Fisher Pond: Memories of Bill Fisher and His Gift to Vashon Island
by Laurie Bevan Stewart

On Fisher Pond: Memories of Bill Fisher and His Gift to Vashon Island is a tribute to generosity and stewardship, not only for those on Vashon Island, but for anyone who loves the land—wherever they may live.

"Laurie Stewart has woven a warm, delightful, surprising portrait of Bill Fisher from shared memories of friends and neighbors, revealing a private person with a great capacity for observing, loving, and stewarding his pond and its surrounds. Bill gave the community his beautiful pond. Laurie’s gentle descriptions and exquisitely remembered moments offer us a new gift: glimpses of the unusual man himself and his particular stewardship ethic."
- Rayna Holtz, King County Librarian, ret.

"This is a beautifully written tribute to an incredibly special and generous man."
- Emma Amiad, Founding president, Vashon Maury Island Audubon Society

"Fisher Pond remains one of the most generous and precious of gifts to our community. The Vashon Land Trust is honored to steward it. Laurie Stewart's book is a wonderful reminder of Bill’s philosophy—that Nature knows what she’s doing."
- Tom Dean, Executive Director, Vashon-Maury Land Trust

Proceeds from the sale of On Fisher Pond are donated to the Vashon Land Trust.

Coming Home From Camp and Other Poems
by Lonny Kaneko

Lonny Kaneko’s poetry expresses the reverberating trauma of his family’s imprisonment in the Minidoka concentration camp during WWII.  Without committing a crime or due process, the Kaneko family was among 120,000 Japanese Americans put in concentration camps in the United States. Kaneko’s illuminating poetry: touching, evocative, reflecting a deep sense of sadness––also reflects in its range, the depth of resilience and the transcendence of the human spirit.

“There’s nothing to see through/the ordinary eyes . . .” says one of the poems in this fine collection, but Lonny Kaneko does not have ordinary eyes or an ordinary sensibility, and he sees a great deal. Hidden in the title of this book is the begged question: “How do we define home?” Here is a remarkable poet who has spent his whole life attempting to do this. Kaneko does not merely bear witness; he works to understand consequences. He is a participant in his life, not a victim of it.
- Samuel Green, Inaugural Poet Laureate, Washington State

"Like the harsh wind scouring the barracks of Minidoka, these poems bring a chill with the first reading.  Kaneko shares the numbing secrets of the internment, stating "the cold is not cold until I admit it."  Against the sand of the past, he reveals the landscape of the present."
- Sharon Hashimoto, author of The Crane Wife

There is "dust rising over all the world" but when it settles, one finds poems like these that quench the thirst and feed the soul. From Minidoka to Seattle and points beyond, I find myself returning to that "leaf in a well of water".
- Alan Chong Lau, Arts Editor, International Examiner

Lonny Kaneko (1939–2017) has received both national and local awards for his poetry, fiction, and play––including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for poetry. Stories, poems and essays appear in anthologies such as An Ear to the Ground, Daily Fare, The Big AIIIEEEEE, Asian American Literature, and The Seattle Review.  He lived on Vashon Island in Washington state.

Proceeds from the sale of Coming Home from Camp are donated to Friends of Mukai.

Finding Mercy in This World
by Catherine Johnson

At the age of 18, Catherine Johnson was the driver in an automobile accident in which a friend was killed. With compassion, insight, and beautiful prose the author leads us through her personal journey of guilt, grief, and eventual forgiveness. Finding Mercy in this World is a memoir about loss, about the healing power of love, the beauty of the natural world, and the moments of grace that make us good again.

Finding Mercy In This World was named as a gold winner in the annual Sarton Women’s Book Awards. The awards are sponsored by the Story Circle Network, an international nonprofit community of women writers. The program is named in honor of May Sarton, who is remembered for her outstanding contributions to women's literature as a memoirist, novelist, and poet.

The Weird World Rolls On

The title of this collection of poetry comes from a line in a poem written in 1875 by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Our collection features contemporary poets such as Ina Whitlock, Roger Davies, Juli Goetz Morser, Catherine Johnson, Eric Horsting, Hunter Davis, Janice Randall, Sue Wiley, Lonny Kaneko and Ann Spiers.

Proceeds from the sale of The Weird World Rolls On are donated to Vashon Community Care.

Once Upon a Two by Four
by Ann Combs

When Ann Combs, her husband Joe and their six children set about re-building a large dilapidated house on Bainbridge Island, their only prior experience in construction was building a toy chest from an instruction kit.

In this classic chronicle of island life, you’ll meet surgeons who look like longshoreman, longshoremen who play Mozart concertos, old Mr. Torgeson, who raises chickens so fat they break their legs leaping off their perches, and Grandma Harriott, who carves historical scenes on cubes of butter.

Told with humor and heartwarming candor, this charming account of the pitfalls and pratfalls of do-it-yourself home remodeling makes high comedy of island idiosyncrasies and domestic travail. Readers are in for a treat!

Ann Combs, a former columnist for the Seattle P-I, is the author of a number of titles for adults including Smith College Never Taught Me How to Salute; We’ll Laugh About This, Someday; and the beloved children’s book How Old is Old. She lives on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington.

There's No Place Like Nome
by Artis Palmer

When Jack Palmer was offered a job driving a tractor for a mining company in Nome, Alaska, there was no time to waste in deciding. It was the morning of June 15, 1934. He had a lovely wife, Alice, a young daughter, Artis, a lot of debt, and no job in Seattle. Jack stepped on to the gangplank of the SS Victoria at Pier Two that same afternoon. Alice and Artis received a telegram from Jack later that summer telling her to be on the last boat and bring food for eight months.

Artis Palmer, a former freelance writer for Seattle Magazine, in this charming memoir humorously and tenderly chronicles the challenges faced by her family during the Great Depression. Eccentric characters and unexpected adventures are entertainingly bound by the force of place and community. From bootlegging in Seattle to gold mining in Nome, Alaska, There’s No Place Like Nome reveals the courage and resilience of the human spirit in tough times.  

Proceeds from the sale of There's No Place Like Nome are donated to the Nome Children's Home.

Our books can be ordered through all independent bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. They are distributed in the US, Canada and worldwide by Ingram, and in schools in the US by Follett School Solutions.

Altar of Gold
by Linda Broten Straley

When Edward, a terrified, young cabin boy is forced to set sail from Port Royal, Jamaica on the Satisfaction, little does he know he will become caught up in the dangerous, terrible mission of the ship's captain--the notorious pirate, Captain Henry Morgan.

As the pirates raid, steal, plunder and pillage throughout the Caribbean, Marta, the young daughter of a sugar plantation owner, flees to Panama to escape the pirates where she finds not only the city under siege--but the pirates about to steal the Cathedral's priceless Altar of Gold.

In their own voices, through letters and journal entries, Edward and Marta bring a story set in Central America in the 1670's that is rich in history, adventure, danger and courage, and one that is sure to enthrall readers of all ages. 

LINDA BROTEN STRALEY,1942-2019. Linda grew up in Bellingham Washington and graduated from Smith College in 1964. After college she taught school for several years in Guatemala and later lived in Panama from 1970 to 1973. In Seattle, for over 20 years she was on the faculty of Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences where she taught Spanish and provided college counseling. She and her husband Hugh traveled extensively in Latin America and Spain. Altar of Gold is published as a memorial for her love of teaching, of Latin America and of literature.

Proceeds from the sale of Altar of Gold are donated to Grandmothers Against Gun Violence.

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh

Dr. Albert Paugh is flunking retirement. After selling his Vashon Island veterinary practice, he soon finds himself not only lost without his work, but suddenly single.

His efforts to carve out a new life, both as a bachelor and a retiree, only leave him feeling like his golden years are fast becoming years of gloom. His regrets pile up until he moves to Baker’s Beach where he gets to know a very special neighbor, learns that friends are the family you choose, and finds a new sense of purpose. The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is a sweet, funny love story about retirees that will delight readers (and dog lovers) of any age.

“This is a heartening book, a chronicle of renewal and hope that’s sparkling with humor!”
- Rayna Holtz, King County Library System Librarian, ret.

“You’ll be cheering for Al as he figures out how not to flunk retirement!”
- Connie Burns, School Library Journal reviewer,

“Warm as a woodstove, fun as a ferry ride, polished as beach glass …a joyful portrait of a close-knit community... Al Paugh encounters the irksome challenges and tender graces of growing older, as well as new possibilities and renewed purpose among cherished friends, human and canine alike.”
- Laurie Stewart and Nancy Katica, Vashon Island Bookshop

“refreshingly realistic...a thoroughly satisfying story.”
- Ann Combs, Eagle Harbor Books, author of Once Upon a Two by Four

Walter's Muse
by Jean Davies Okimoto

“A joy to read!”
- Rayna Holtz, Librarian, KING COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM, ret.

“Brimming with wit and wisdom...a delightful celebration of mature love, sure to enchant fans of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand!”
- Juli Morser, BOOKS BY THE WAY

“Readers will connect with this warm story of two lonely people finding each other late in life.”

It’s the first summer of her retirement and librarian Maggie Lewis is relishing the unfolding of sweet summer days on Vashon Island: walking on the beach, reading the classics, and kayaking. But in June when a sudden storm hits the island, Maggie’s summer becomes about as peaceful as navigating whitewater. Not only does her wealthy sister arrive uninvited with a startling announcement, but Maggie finds herself entangled with her new Baker’s Beach neighbor, Walter Hathaway. A famous children’s author and recovering alcoholic, Walter has a history with Maggie they would each like to forget.

Delightfully told with humor and insight, Walter’s Muse is a page turner for romantics, writers, and the young at heart at any age.

The Love Ceiling
ISBN 978-0-9823167-3-3

Recommended by the King County Library System Staff!
The Love Ceiling was recommended by the King County Library System staff as a 2009 seasonal read.
USA Book News National Best Books 2009 Award
The Love Ceiling is a woman's fiction finalist for the USA Book News National Best Book award.
Rave reviews for The Love Ceiling
"rich with life experiences... rendered with compassion and insight.”
— Nancy Livingstone, US Review of Books
The Love Ceiling will ring true with many women.”
The Midwest Book Review
“...an intriguing, absorbing, and unusual novel.” 
— Mary Gergen, The Positive Aging Newsletter
“...wonderful, touching, funny. Jean Davies Okimoto writes with literary perfect pitch.”
— Christiane Northrup, MD author and host of PBS television special Mother-Daughter Wisdom
“A lovely book, full of wisdom and compassion. With keen insight, the author examines the problems of achieving fulfillment as both a woman and an artist.”
— Barbara G. Walker author of The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
“A fine painting of words by a true artist....so compelling that once you begin you cannot put it down.”
 — Chizuko Judy Sugita de Queiroz artist and author of Camp Days 1942-1945
“Any woman who has ever wrestled with a difficult father will find inspiration and solace in these lucid pages.”
 — Leza Lowitz former Tokyo correspondent for Art in America
"In this courageous journey, Okimoto gives us a model for any woman yearning to claim her truth, to be seen for who she is in her deepest heart. I was inspired by The Love Ceiling and recommend it for any woman seeking greater self-expression." 
— Lisa Dale Norton, Author of Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills, and Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir

Available on:
  • Vashon Book Shop
  • Indiebound
  • Amazon
  • Barnes and Noble
Retailers and Libraries:
  • Ingram (800-937-8000 • orders@ingrambook.com)