Ep 14: Paul Constant, Seattle Review of Books


The Drunk Booksellers get stoned on this 4/20 themed episode with Paul Constant of the Seattle Review of Books.

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In which we make pot jokes and get excited about books

We’re switching up our intoxicant of choice this episode and getting stoned rather than drunk (mostly). Paul’s rocking Mr. Moxey’s Mints (of the peppermint/sativa variety). Emma’s smoking CBD (not to be confused with William Steig’s children’s picture book, CDB!). Kim stops talking while stoned—which would make for a really awkward podcast episode—so she’s drinking the hoppiest IPA she could find instead. Everyone’s a little too high to explain the varieties of weed particularly well, so you should just read David Schmader’s Weed: The User’s Guide: A 21st Century Handbook for Enjoying Marijuana.

Paul’s Reading:

Emma’s Reading:

Kim’s Reading:

Forthcoming Titles We’re Excited For:

Chapter I [18:50]

In which we learn what The Seattle Review of Books is, talk about book reviews as a meta art form, and get advice on promoting diversity and being a safe, welcoming place for people who aren’t white bros

The Seattle Review of Books is a book news, review, and interviews site. This isn’t consumer reports, with a thumbs up or down on each title; each review aims to have a conversation with the book. It’s a site that aims to look like your bookshelf, without genre classification.

Emma & Kim don’t quite understand Paul’s assertion that people don’t organize their bookshelves, but we roll with it.

SRB makes all their money through a single sponsor (which changes each week). If you’re interested in their sponsorship program, you can learn more here.

Paul wants to promote young, new writers and help them build up their clip file. So you should probably pitch him with your brilliant, bookish ideas. Email submissions@seattlereviewofbooks or fill in the contact form on their about page.

Emma particularly loves the Help Desk by Cienna Madrid. Ask Cienna an awkward book-related question at advice@seattlereviewofbooks.com.

Being a couple of white guys, Paul and his co-founder Martin McClellan are extremely concerned with diverse representation. You can learn more about how SRB encourages diversity in both the books they review and the reviewers they publish on their about page (or by listening to this episode…). But you should know right off the bat, they are not here to promote the new Franzen novel and they will not pander to bros. 

Chapter II [33:10]

In which we talk about life in the US post-election, say something negative about a book, and discuss Paul’s past (and current) life as a bookseller

Reading Through It is a post-election book club hosted by Seattle Review of Books, the Seattle Weekly, and Third Place Books Seward Park. They meet the first Wednesday of every month.

On our post-election world, Paul Constant says: “This is what books were made for. Books are engines of empathy… the only way to do a deep-dive into an issue. It’s our stored knowledge… This is the moment for books.”

The next Reading Through It book group pick is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. They’ll be meeting Wednesday May 3rd at Third Place Books Seward Park.

Read Paul’s article on his time at Borders: Books Without Borders: My Life at the World’s Dumbest Bookstore Chain

Though he’s not technically a bookseller anymore, Paul is still “on team books.” Keep an eye out for our “I’m On Team Books” t-shirts, which may or may not be a thing we sell one day.

Chapter III [43:20]

In which Paul is better at explaining our questions than stoned Emma is at asking them, Emma and Kim give Paul major side-eye due to his bookseller confession, and Emma continues to push Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Desert Island Pick (what would you read that you never had the time to read before): The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro (beginning with The Path to Power)

We couldn’t find a video of the following clip of Caro on the Colbert Report, so we’ll just leave you this series of gifs to explain why you, too, should consider bringing an epic five-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson as your desert beach read:

You’re welcome. Now, back to your regularly scheduled show notes. 

Station Eleven Picks (the books to preserve for society) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (everything you need to know about living in a society) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (everything you need to know about life and how it doesn’t always work out the way you want, but you should live it anyway)

Read Paul’s essay about The Scarlet Letter, originally written for Scarecrow Video.

Wild Pick (traveling is about observing things… soaking everything in) We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live by Joan Didion (“because she is the greatest observer on the planet and I would want to be like her when I was traveling”)

Bookseller Confession  Once again, we have a guest who hasn’t read Harry Potter. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Paul also hasn’t read Lord of the Rings and Kim proceeds to side-eye him from across the city.

(In case you were wondering, the title of the direct link to this gif is “wtf-i-cant-even-you-are-stupid.” Just sayin’.)

Emma, naturally, tries to convert Paul to fantasy w/ an Uprooted recommendation because “nobody doesn’t like it.” Paul commits to reading it in order to prove her wrong.

Go-To Handsell Fup by Jim Dodge Paul saved the book from going out of print and—arguably more importantly—he handsold a copy to Allison Hannigan.

Impossible Handsell  Paradise by AL Kennedy (and everything by AL Kennedy)

Book for Booksellers Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich

Favorite Bookstores Elliott Bay Ada’s Technical Books Third Place Ravenna

Favorite Literary Media

Not to brag, but, we’re the only podcast Paul listens to.

The Rumpus Lit Hub Book Forum Electric Literature Shelf Awareness


In which we tell you where to find us on the Internets

You can find Paul on:

You can find us on:

Emma tweets @thebibliot and writes bookish things for Book Riot.

Kim tweets occasionally from @finaleofseem, but don’t expect too much ’cause she saves all of the interesting (ie. book-related) shizzle for Drunk Booksellers.

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