Hi Everyone!

I've been back from my summer studying in Paris for about two weeks now, & I'm finally getting caught up enough to sit long enough to write about how I spent the past three months.

Kilometer Zero, the very center of Paris--& my lime-splattered boots, courtesy of the Catacombs.

I went to Paris (officially) to study language at the Sorbonne--I study English literature up at WSU-Vancouver, but I was ready for a change of pace & a change of scenery; anyway, how could I miss an opportunity to spend a summer in Paris?

On the second floor of the Eiffel Tower

My course load was relatively light (2 hours of grammar & 1 hour of phonetics, 5 days a week), so I had lots of time for wandering, searching out the city's little nooks (St. Paul's was my favorite accidental-discovery), sipping tiny cups of coffee, & whatever else I might find myself doing. As it was, I often found myself wandering into the center of the city, walking along the Seine, watching the pigeons & gulls darting around the towers of Notre Dame, & eventually (inevitably) ducking into the English-speaking bookshop on  Rue de la BĂ»cherie, Shakespeare & Company. There, I could always find a cozy little spot where I could sit unbothered for hours, wrapped up in whatever my book-of-the-moment was. At least one evening a week, I would join the crowd gathered out front of the shop & overflowing into the little-used cobblestone street to listen to the various writers who came through & gave readings--some I was familiar with, & others this was the first time I'd heard of them, but they always had really interesting & often beautiful things to say about books, about poetry, about literature, & about writing in general. A few of my favorites were Eileen Myles, Lydia Davis, & Jennifer Egan. And, as if it couldn't get any better, the shop has a little black shopdog named Colette who likes to wander the crowd--I was really missing my dog most days, so I was always very happy to see her darting around all the people & visiting the cafe next door in hopes of scraps.

This is me reading on one of the beds in the shop
(photo by wilmacheryl)

Despite all my reading of books in English (I had amassed a mini-library by the end of the summer, which has since been absorbed into my home library), I did pick up quite a bit of French & I'm hoping to get back into language courses next semester. I hadn't expected it initially, but once I started studying French, I began finding it relevant to the English literature I've studied, & I was even finding bits and pieces of it in the English books I was reading in Paris. It really made me start to think about language in a different way--it's far more complex that I had ever imagined (& still more).

I finished my courses at the Sorbonne on the first of August, packed up my backpack, & met my sister at the train station. I showed her some of Paris & after a couple of days we got on a train to Calais, then a ferry to Dover, then a bus to London. Not only was it a tremendous relief for my brain to be able to work in English again, but I somehow felt really at home in London--I walked through city parks & saw people meditating & going on flower walks; we ventured through Chinatown; we hit some of the high-end shopping districts (which are worth it even if you're on a 'baguette budget', if only to observe all the super-chic street fashion). I also got to visit Shakespeare's Globe Theater, 2 bookshops (Waterstone's & Hatchards), the TATE modern (including the Damien Hirst exhibit), the London Natural History Museum (I lucked out & got to walk through the Animal Inside Out exhibit, which is like Body Worlds except with animals), & of course several spots in the city that were used for the filming of Harry Potter.

We also went through Brussels (I knew the chocolate would be good, but I didn't think it would be that good), Amsterdam (I'm now harboring a dream of living out the rest my years on a houseboat in the canals--also: more bookshops, the names of which I couldn't pronounce but which still had a selection of books in English), Venice (very hot & very busy, but architecture like I've never seen before--forget the tours & big empty landmarks--just wandering the streets was a really nice way to spend the day, and there was a bookshop tucked in amongst the restaurants and souvenir shops), & Milan (only on accident).

We ended up back in Paris to catch our flight--& so that I could say goodbye to the city, & the bookshop, where I'd spent so many evenings curled up reading or writing & listening to the summer rain against the windows or someone playing the piano in the library. I was very sad to leave, but was also looking forward to getting back to my friends & family, to a place to sleep for more than a night at a time, & of course to my dog & cat. My first brush with European city life & culture was really amazing, though, & I can't wait for my next opportunity to explore further (Scotland & Ireland are next on my list!). But for right now, I'm back in my lit classes, & doing what I can to retain the French I picked up until I can get back into language courses next semester.

Should you find yourself in Paris, I absolutely recommend a trip to Shakespeare & Company, or Waterstone's in London, or (of course!) Vintage Books here in Vancouver. And if you want to talk European bookshops, Paris, or just in general, I'm here at the shop every Sunday, 10-4.


ps Shakespeare & Company has a very rich & interesting history which has involved, at one point or another, the likes of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, & lots more. You can learn more about the shop on their website, where you can also find some audio of their literary events:


& if you want to dig still deeper, I'd recommend Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company, & Jeremy Mercer's Time Was Soft There.


Ready, Set, WALDO !

Are you ready? Vancouver's great WALDO hunt starts tomorrow.
From Beacock's to Runyan's to Video Connection to Orchards Feed Mill, Pizza Italiana to I Like Comics, Garside Florist to Bead City--
21 Local businesses for you to explore and collect your WALDO
tickets. Join us this July!

If you missed our great WALDO video (Thanks to Tom), check it
out on our homepage at:  www.Vintage-Books.net


Where's Waldo?  (In Vancouver, and across the USA !)
Indie Bookstores Launch a Massive Cross Country Campaign to Promote Shop Local Message in July  

  This July, 250 independent booksellers are joining together in a coast-to-coast celebration of Shop Local and the iconic children’s book character, Waldo’s twenty-fifth birthday. From Mendocino to Minneapolis, San Diego to Schenectady, Tampa to Telluride, and Oshkosh to Omaha, indie bookstores in all fifty states (and Washington, D.C.) will be hosting Waldo scavenger hunts while spreading the "Buy Local" message in their cities and towns.

As pressure increases for brick and mortar bookstores to innovate and acclimate to a new retail frontier, Candlewick Press, the Somerville, MA based children’s book publisher,has partnered with the American Booksellers Association in an impressive month-long  consumer promotion that seeks to drive in-store traffic, strengthen local business alliances, and engage community members to spread the buy local message.

"Find Waldo Local" first originated with Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth, Massachusetts in 2011, when staff brainstormed about how to capitalize on the increased summer foot traffic in their vacation community and create an interactive event that would literally bring tourists off the sidewalks of the scenic main street and through the doors of their store and neighboring businesses. Mini Waldos were hidden in nearby storefronts, and prizes were awarded to participants who found them all. The Waldo hunt was on. . Word quickly spread to the other indie bookstores around the country.
Upon announcing the nationwide initiative in January 2012 in conjunction with Waldo's 25th anniversary, Candlewick was flooded with inquiries from stores interested in participating in "Find Waldo Local" and quickly filled slots for 250 bookstores before a waiting list grew.
"Candlewick is thrilled to be able to partner with the ABA and hundreds of independent bookstores on a brilliant bookseller-created initiative that promises to increase foot traffic and sales during the summer travel season — mobilizing some of the smartest, most creative minds in small business to spotlight their local business alliances through the lenses of our beloved Waldo," says Karen Lotz, President & Publisher of Candlewick Press.

  What is Find Waldo Local?
It’s a month-long scavenger hunt for Waldo hosted by indie bookstores in all fifty states across the nation in July 2012.
How does Find Waldo Local work?
On July 1, 2012, Waldo-spotters will set off on a hunt to find the elusive character hidden around dozens of
shops in towns across America.  Anyone who wishes to participate can pick up a Find Waldo search list at a participating business and collect an "I Found Waldo" card for each Waldo they spot. Hundreds of eagle-eyed Waldo spotters will be eligible for prizes culminating on July 31 with a grand ceremony held at the organizing bookstores.

About Waldo: Waldo is the creation of Martin Handford.  There are now over 56 million Waldo books in print worldwide and they’ve been translated into eighteen languages. An entire generation has grown up searching for Waldo and his cast of wandering companions. His official 25th birthday will be celebrated in the U.S. in September 2012.

In Vancouver---

You might start at Orchards Feed Mill, Beacock's Music, Video Connections,  . . .
there are 21 of us!  Please ask when you stop in one of your favorite shops and see Waldo.
You'll be off on the Great Waldo Search.  We hope to see you soon!

(This piece modified from a Candlewick original.)





Here is a copy of our latest email newsletter.


School is out and now it's time for Summer fun! Places to go, things to do, how are you going to keep those kids occupied for the next couple of months? Don't worry, we've got you covered!

We have coloring books, activity books, stickers, lots of great chapter books. And if you are looking for a suggested read, check out the Kids' Next list.

Independent booksellers from across the country have suggested their favorite reads for the Summer. I'm thrilled to have my nomination included on the list("Silly Doggy" a very cute picture book).

Need ideas for places to go? Be sure to check out our new and used travel books. Mushroom hunting, bird watching, camping, what do you want to do?

Becky attended a meeting at Martin Luther King Elementary School to discuss different ways organizations in the county could help students and their families.

One way that we can help is stock up their "pantry" for their backpack meals program. So, we are having a food drive next Friday and Saturday(June 29th and 30th). How can you help? Bring in canned goods.

For each can of food, you will receive 1% off your cash or credit card purchase. You may donate up to 10 cans of food for a 10% discount. We will be doing this a couple of times during the summer. It is one small way we can all make a big difference.


Are you ready to have some fun? 21 Clark County local businesses are participating in a Find Local hunt. "Where's Waldo" is celebrating his 25th Anniversary. 250 bookstores across the country have partnered up with r local businesses in their communities for a "Where's Waldo" event, sponsored by Candlewick, Waldo's publisher.

Starting July 1st, you can stop in here at Vintage and pick up a list at the participating businesses. For every business that you go into and locate the Waldo standee, you will be given a card that says "I found Waldo at...". After you have found Waldo at 8 stores, bring your cards into Vintage, and you will receive a Waldo button. (first 100 families). If you collect 16 of the possible 21 cards, you will be entered in a drawing for the grand prize of a set Waldo books along with some other great prizes, including a gift card from Spanky's.

We are really excited about this event, as are the other businesses participating. Be sure to keep an eye out for our "commercial" featuring Waldo, it will be available for viewing this week on our Facebook page.


In the spirit of of Summer fun, here is a book that you and your family will enjoy.

"Oink-A-Doodle-Moo" by Jef Czekaj Harper Collins $16.99

Have you ever played the telephone game? You know, the one where someone whispers a phrase into someone else's ear and then he or she whispers it into the next person's ear and so on and so forth?

The whole object of the game is to see if the phrase is the same after it goes through several people. Now imagine that game being played by barnyard animals. These animals have a pretty limited vocabulary, the pig says oink, the cow says moo, etc. What starts off as an ordinary word in an ordinary game becomes a silly phrase and a silly game.

All I can say is, poor doggy who had to repeat the phrase. This is a great read aloud book, and the pictures remind me of the "singing horses" that I've seen online. .


A couple of reminders-

Need e-books? Be sure to check out our www.vintage-books.net site. Specials are added each month!

Facebook-once again thanks to all of you who have become fans. Please tell your friends about us. This is the quickest way for you to know what is going on in the store, new arrivals, giveaways, general happenings. And of course all of the great saying that we repost from Bob's Beach Books and NW Book Lovers.

Coupons-Now available on the front counter, a basket full of coupons from other local businesses. Please choose one, and "Buy Vancouver" You may discover a new favorite place to go.


Bring in canned/non-perishable food

Friday June 29th, and Saturday June 30th.

Each can of food= 1% discount, up to 10% discount on cash/credit card purchases

All food will be donated to MLK Elementary’s backpack meals program.  Thank you!


One of our small regional suppliers shared this post, about the loss of her dog.
Any of us who have been blessed with the best of animal companions will agree, Sugar
was the most generous of dogs. 

A Dog's Gentle Death

Our family will always remember this holiday season as the time Sugar died. Sugar was a mixed breed, mostly lab/border-collie type. She exhibited the best character traits of every gene she carried and seemed to bear none of any breed's drawbacks. She was a real credit to her species.
A member of my daughter's household, Sugar was one of my "grand dogs," for whom it was my privilege to dog-sit if her parents went somewhere she was not welcome. Those unwelcome places were few and far between because Sugar met love and enthusiasm everywhere she went. Friends would vie for the chance to keep her when her parents left town. But, I'm proud to say, my daughter believed I was her favorite sitter, so I always got first dibs on her company.
She lived a long time -- almost 16 years -- as her humans' constant companion. Sugar was an enthusiastic participant in daily life, hikes, camping excursions and road trips. She accompanied my daughter to work at a neighborhood art gallery, hanging out on her bed and greeting patrons with gentle good will. She never forgot a face, and offered a smile and nudge of the nose to those she knew. She waited patiently outside restaurants and stores until her people reappeared, came to church and dozed in the corner during choir practice. Of course she attended social and family gatherings, and her birthday celebration was not to be missed as the highlight of the barbecue season.
During her long life Sugar taught us about living well. She taught us about playing and having fun. She taught us the importance of relationships and acknowledging our loved ones in small ways, each day. She taught loyalty and how to abide, steadfast during hard times. In the end, she taught about dying well, too.
Over the past few years deafness, poor vision and a variety of ailments slowed Sugar down and took their toll. Hip degeneration, leg weakness, recurrent bladder infections, a variety of benign tumors, stomach ailments -- all these and more called forth the best in veterinary medicine. When her appetite diminished and she lost 15 percent of her body weight, we hoped the prescribed steroids would perk her up and renew her zest for life.
It was not to be. Sugar took to her bed, stopped eating and drinking, and withdrew from communal interaction. My daughter sent out word that Sugar was dying and the time had come, for those who wished, to stop by and say goodbye. Many, many did. For two days a steady stream of visitors came to Sugar's bedside, told her how they loved her and shed a tear. Sugar acknowledged them with a weak tail wag, but continued her separation from this world.
One last time they brought her to the Oregon coast, her favorite place and what would be her burial ground. In the same cabin where she rested after so many joyful afternoons chasing balls and sticks in the surf, she spent a quiet night and drew her last breath.
As intentional and gracious as she was in living, so she was in dying. Instead of going off to a hiding place in the woods, Sugar let us witness, share and learn from the natural ending to a life complete. That's how generous was her big, big heart.


What a great idea!  Anyone or group want to sponsor this in Vancouver this Fall?

First Graders Who Shop

Josie Leavitt Last Friday morning we had the pleasure of being visited by the Lincoln, Vt., elementary school’s first-grade class. Someone’s grandmother had donated $200 to the classroom for building up the library for the incoming first-grade class.
Kids look at the non-fiction selection.
At 10 a.m. they arrived, polite, shy, and eager to shop. We had taken a great variety of levels one through four I Can Read books and spread them in small stacks on every available surface in the two picture book sections. We thought that system would cause far less chaos than kids trying to look at the books from the spinner where we keep all the early readers and chapter books.
The teacher suggested I go over how to handle the books so the books stayed looking new. I was in a silly mood so I said to the kids,”These books are new, so you have to look at them carefully. Be gentle turning the pages and don’t bite the books.” I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, but when the teacher asked a student to repeat back the rules and she said, “We can’t eat the books.”
A happy reader.
These kids were so well-behaved it was stunning. Quietly they sought out their favorites and were decisive young shoppers. One young man came to the counter and said about his Henry and Mudge, “I liked these a lot when I was younger.”
The kids spent all the money in less than 20 minutes and then they were gone, in a blur of giggles and even a few hugs.

"We are a business, yes, but our larger goal is something more intangible: the age-old promotion of the book as a tool that can open minds and bring communities together."  Quoting from the Blog of Village Books.:

Work Hard. Have Fun. Take Advil.

The price is $27.95 and I can hold it under your name at our front counter,” I say to the customer on the phone.
There’s an awkward pause on the other end of the line. I know she’s looking at the Amazon screen, where the price is $16.05, sometimes even less. She knows that I know. The silence lengthens. She wants to buy local, but how can she justify paying almost twice as much?
In the past I’ve tried to win customers over by playing Amazon’s game. I tell them about our discounts, sales, bargain books, etc. But a series of articles written in the last year have shown me that I’m really missing the point. Amazon and other internet discounters can afford to offer lower prices because they’ve created a new kind of American sweatshop.
The world of internet shipping that Mac McClelland (Mother Jones, March/April 2012), Vanessa Veselka (The Atlantic, December 2012), and Hal Benton and Susan Kelleher (Seattle Times, April 4, 2012) describe in their articles is one of vast, airless warehouses where workers are expected to speed walk 10 to 15 miles a day on concrete floors to meet goals that are set right at the limits of human “productivity.” Temperatures vary wildly in summer and winter.  In a now famous incident Amazon actually had ambulances parked outside a Pennsylvania warehouse waiting for workers to drop from heat exhaustion. As one older lady succinctly put it: “You need to take 800 milligrams of Advil a day to work here.”     
Most of these companies rely on “temp” workers, who have not rights or benefits and who can be fired on the spot for such offenses as, I kid you not, speaking to a fellow co-worker. Amazon appears “progressive” in this environment because they offer some full-time employment and more than one bathroom break a shift. More importantly, Jeff Bezos long ago mastered the motivational language of business textbooks. “Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History” is painted in giant letters in every warehouse. Workers are “associates,” supervisors are “team leaders,” and distribution warehouses are “fulfillment centers.” In the age of Dilbert it’s hard to believe that anyone would believe this con; but Veselka, who tried to organize a union at Amazon in 2000, says that Bezos figured out that what people really wanted is a sense of belonging, of being part of something new. With their sense of “belonging” the moonlighting artists didn’t seem to notice they were handing over their labor rights.
Meanwhile, in the background, the real driving force in these warehouses was a much more enduring American value: profit. By 2000 Bezos had stated his ambition to become “the Walmart of the Internet.” He fired those in his inner circle arguing for better working conditions and closed the one Seattle call center nearing unionization. It was all about production numbers. Here’s what the “fulfilling” version of the Amazon assembly line looks like in 2012: With computerized devices in their hands each picker’s movements are tracked “to the step,” the number of items picked “per minute” is logged on the supervisor’s computer, and any dip in these numbers causes him or her to magically appear at the picker’s side for some “coaching.” The top “producers” are announced over the loudspeakers at midday like the popular kids in class, mistakes of all kinds are recorded and employees “written up,” and the slower or injured workers are picked off (fired) like the proverbial weaker members of the herd. As one former manager explained, “They would have meetings about how to fire people who were hurt.”
The shrinking of wages and unions over the last 30 years is well documented, and not all of it can be laid at Amazon’s feet (as much as I’d like to). But even within this new downwardly-mobile economy there are two kinds of business models.  I, like some of my compatriots at Amazon, have benefits, but my employers will not threaten me if I use them. More importantly, my employers love what they sell and love the community that they sell it in. It’s at least as important to them that I love books and can share that with customers, as it is that I perform “x” amount of keystrokes on the cash register per hour. We are a business, yes, but our larger goal is something more intangible: the age-old promotion of the book as a tool that can open minds and bring communities together.
Amazon provides its employees – at least the half of its workforce that work in warehouses – with none of this, for the simple fact that when you sell a hardcover book for $16.05 and a paperback for $11.15 you can’t afford it. All those indefinable qualities like employee satisfaction go out the window. I always think of that I Love Lucy episode with Lucy being overwhelmed by pieces of chocolate in the candy factory – only minus the comedy. The lower the price the more brutal the assembly line has to be. It’s not rocket science.
So the next time you shop with us think of it as not only supporting local business, but not supporting a system that devalues everything in its path. And this goes for everything on the internet that is sold cheaply. There’s no getting around the simple truth that quality and fairness cost money (although as consumers we keep on trying!). All the way long the wonderful chain of the book business – from authors and editors to your local bookseller – Amazon’s pricing policies are hurting quality and putting artisans out of business. Even in the e-book realm, where the warehouse is not an issue, cheap pricing relies on the sacrifice of traditional arts like editing, not to mention the many environmental and labor issues swirling around the manufacture of e-readers. (But that’s another article.)
A physical book is a work of art that can last literally hundreds of years. $27.95 -- it’s worth every penny.


Bonsai Book - Just In!


Translated by Yuji Yoshimura
Published 1972 by Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing Ltd.

This oversize volume features lovely color photographs bound in green cloth with gilt lettering, in a brightly decorated clothbound slipcase.
The text is entirely in Japanese, explaining the history of bonsai with captions to the individual photos. Accompanying this is a booklet of
complete English text which translates each part.

The book and slipcase are both in excellent condition with little signs of wear.  There are a few name stamps from the previous owner on the endpapers, and a gift inscription from Katei Terada.  THe spine is faintly sunned.  Otherwise, all pages are unmarked, without creases or tears.  The binding is tight.

A gorgeous edition for any bonsai lover.   $265.00 

This is a picture of the laid in stapled text in English.

This is a picture of the slipcase.

Japanese Garden Book

This is a beautiful oversize volume of photographs of Japanese gardens. Since the entire text is in Japanese, we are not sure if these are taken from one large garden, or from several.

Hardcover, with dust jacket and slipcase, all in excellent condition. No soiling, creases or tears.  No signs of wear at all.
124 pages, mostly photographs.  Published 1982, in Japan.   $125.00


Coming in July:  'Where's Waldo in Vancouver?"

Twenty one intensely Local businesses will host a family-friendly search for Waldo next month,
celebrating both the 25th anniversary of Where's Waldo and July as the month of Independents.
There will be prizes, and, best of all, a chance to discover some pretty amazing Vancouver-centric
shopping choices.  We're pretty excited about this!

Books can do many things for us.   When "Sandra" was in today,
she mentioned how her reading has changed, and how "cozies" had
carried her through the illness and death of her partner.

Her current reading list is full of challenges and a spectrum of
ideas.  At that time, comfortable fiction and cozy mysteries were
read and reread.  No challenges, no threats, no deep thinkings.
Survival mode was assisted by friendly reads, just like slipping
into well worn denims and a flannel shirt.

How many different purposes our reading serves.  How we,
as booksellers, appreciate that books & people connection.
Thanks for sharing.


Just finished "The Light Between Oceans", an August title you may want to recommend
 for your Reading Group.

Setting:  A remote island, off the Australian Coast, post World War I.
A veteran finds working as the lighthouse keeper gives him little time for reliving
memories of the war.   His bride loves their life, but after losing three babes in
miscarriage or stillbirth, she begins to unravel.

Conundrum:  A small craft washes ashore, with a baby and the body of a man.
What do they do?  The decision shapes the rest of their lives.  Full of love,
memories, anguish and filtered through the lens of a post war Coastal village,
this is a remarkable read.  Take a chance on this first time novel.


Worried about losing the printed word to the digital age? Brewster Kahle has you covered.


The theme of today's blog is cats, inspired by this picture sent in by Karla Von Huben:

This is Zeek, and he sits like a human.

Zeek's cat-friend, Frankie, probably thinks that Zeek is kind of ridiculous when he sits like a person but is too nice to say anything. This is Frankie:

And since we're showing off cats in various positions today, here is my (Katie's) Meiko-kitten, upside-down:

And our Dickens snuggling his pet lion:

And of course handsome Henry, who needs no further description:



A Message from NIWA, The Northwest Independent Writers Association:

We don't have to tell you: writing is hard. And getting published, even harder. But you're not alone. There are hundreds of other struggling writers just like you, trying to break into the ranks of the elite professionals. The Northwest Independent Writers Association is a group of Pacific Northwest authors of all types and all levels of professional achievement, dedicated to helping each other be the best writers they can be.

We hold regular monthly meetings, which are open to anyone interested in the group. We're a friendly bunch, and we're entirely open to new people dropping by. Occasionally, we also do group activities such as conventions, signings, and anthologies. If you're interested, check out our forum, our Twitter, our Facebook, or send us an email.


Following up the success of NIWA’s first Spec-Fic anthology, Magic to Mayhem, the Northwest Independent Writers Association is now open to submissions for the 2012 Speculative Fiction Anthology.

The 2012 anthology will feature stories with strong connections to the Pacific Northwest, past, present, or future. All submissions should include elements of the Pacific Northwest that are central to the story; whether through plot, setting, or characters, the story must contain strong ties to the Pacific Northwest to be considered for inclusion in the anthology.

Deadline for submissions is April 30th, 2012.

Please check out this link for more details:



Check out AbeBooks' catalog of bookstore cats residing in independent bookstores across the US & Canada. Henry & Dickens aren't included but this one sort of looks like Dickens.


The Joy of Books

Have you seen this yet? Awesome short by an awesome independent bookstore in Toronto.
(You can check them out here: http://typebooks.ca/).


From Aimee Bender's Review of "The Room", in the NY TImes

Emma Donoghue’s remarkable new novel, “Room,” is built on two intense constraints: the limited point of view of the narrator, a 5-year-old boy named Jack; and the confines of Jack’s physical world, an 11-by-11-foot room where he lives with his mother. We enter the book strongly planted within these restrictions. We know only what Jack knows, and the drama is immediate, as is our sense of disorientation over why these characters are in this place. Jack seems happily ensconced in a routine that is deeply secure, in a setting where he can see his mother all day, at any moment. She has created a structured, lively regimen for him, including exercise, singing and reading. The main objects in the room are given capital letters — Rug, Bed, Wall — a ­wonderful choice, because to Jack, they are named beings. In a world where the only other companion is his mother, Bed is his friend as much as anything else. Jack, in this way, is a heightened version of a regular kid, bringing boundless wonder and meaning to his every pursuit.

Donoghue navigates beautifully around these limitations. Jack’s voice is one of the pure triumphs of the novel: in him, she has invented a child narrator who is one of the most engaging in years — his voice so pervasive I could hear him chatting away during the day when I wasn’t reading the book. Donoghue rearranges language to evoke the sweetness of a child’s learning without making him coy or overly darling; Jack is lovable simply because he is lovable. Through dialogue and smartly crafted hints of eavesdropping, Donoghue fills us in on Jack’s world without heavy hands or clunky exposition. The reader learns as Jack learns, and often we learn more than he can yet grasp, but as with most books narrated by children, the gap between his understanding and ours is a territory of emotional power.

Donoghue’s ingenuity also soars as she animates the novel’s physical space through her characters’ rituals: they run around a homemade track; watch TV, but not too much, because “it rots our brains”; string eggshells together with a needle to make a kind of snake. Toys and books are treated like gold. A lollipop is a revelation....

On the whole, Donoghue goes the distance with “Room,” and she brings her story to a powerful close that feels exactly right. This is a truly memorable novel, one that can be read through myriad lenses — psychological, sociological, political. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live.