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Queen Anne Book Co.: The welcoming heart of the neighborhood

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Photo by Lindsey Anderson
Photo by Lindsey Anderson

Community: it's what many say makes Seattle so special. And nothing quite brings a community together like a neighborhood bookstore.

Affectionately referred to as "the heart of Queen Anne," the Queen Anne Book Co. finds itself nestled literally right in the middle of the iconic Seattle neighborhood.

Wendee Wieking has been the manager there for one week, but she has had a long-standing connection to this neighborhood institution and has been witness to its unique history. Eight years ago, the original Queen Anne Book Co. closed down, leaving the neighborhood without its beloved bookstore, before its new incarnation opened.

"I've actually been here at the store for all of its eight years, since we opened in 2013," she said, "and prior to that I worked for five years at the store that preceded this" as a bookseller and buyer.

Judy de Jonge was one of the original store's best customers, coming nearly every day to read a book and sip her morning coffee. The neighborhood was not the same after the bookstore closed its doors, and Judy was determined to bring back the charm the community had lost. Along with her partner, Krijin, Judy bought the building and brought books back to Queen Anne.

After the de Jonges reopened the store, the previous curators, Wieking and Tegan, the resident buyer of children's and young adult media, were able to return to the work they love. "We have kind of a unique place in this community," Wieking explained. "There has been a store on the hill for more than 25 years. This store really is considered [its] heart and soul."

There's no question why the community loves Queen Anne Book Co. so much. The store knows its neighbors and tailors its collection to their interests. "The personality of the store reflects the personality of the community," Wieking said. "We have our young families, our single people, and senior citizens living down at Bayview Manor."

Many of the store's patrons are children, so the store caters to their needs too. Nearly half the store is made up of children's and young adult books, each specifically chosen by Tegan.

What makes the bookstore so unique is its emphasis on inclusivity. "Our philosophy at this store has always been broadly inclusive. Our adult buyer and our children's and young adult buyer have put tremendous emphasis on inclusion... and what we want is when somebody walks through the door, they are going to feel they belong here, and they are going to find stories that reflect who they are."

LGBTQ books can be found in every section of the store, and Tegan even set out a display of LGBTQ children's books, complete with a book review from a young reader.

For Queen Anne Book Co., being an integral part of the community also means giving back to it. Each year the store helps provide books to local schools, ensuring that every child has a fair chance to develop a love of reading.

The store also gives to those who are incarcerated. "Over the last two or three years we have developed a very close relationship with 'Books to Prisoners,' a Washington state corrections facility program," Wieking said. Over the years, they have developed such a deep relationship with the Washington state corrections library that the library has asked to the store to recommend books for the inmates.

Recommending books is a unique talent of the sellers at Queen Anne Book Co. When I asked for a recommendation, three excited voices announced the same title in unison: Gearbreakers! Tegan gave a detailed synopsis of the amazing and groundbreaking first novel published by Seattle's own Zoe Hana Mikuta, an undergrad student at the University of Washington. "It's a lot of action, a lot of passion, and a lot of fun!" she said with excitement. The bookstore is one of the first in Seattle to feature Gearbreakers in hardcover, and it even promoted the novel with a visit and book signing by the author.

So for a delightful community institution, look no further than Queen Anne Book Co. Stop by to browse the selection, and don't overlook the young readers' area — your're never too old to enjoy a good picture book! (And don't forget to pick up a signed copy of Gearbreakers.)

Queen Anne Book Co. is a wonderful and integral part of Seattle's community, and a perfect place to feel welcome.

Queen Anne Book Co. is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N. More information can be found at www.qabookco.com.