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10 years online!
Decade of Reading Essay Contest
History of Powells.com
History of Powell's Books

Featured essays

Marc Acito
Kurt Andersen
Win Blevins
Rebecca Brown
Bruce Haring
Martin Clark
Michael Cunningham
Regan Daley
Veronica Doyle
Samantha Ettus
Jody Gehrman
Eric Jager
Justin Cronin
Garrison Keillor
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Ben Mezrich
Sara Nelson
Luanne Rice
Esmeralda Santiago
Judy Reene Singer

Staff essays

Chris Bolton
Steven Fidel
Jill Owens
Joe Rogers
Kevin Sampsell
Dave Weich
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KAPOW! celebrating ten years at Powells.com
KAPOW! Decade of Reading essay contest
What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Powells.com, we're asking readers worldwide to describe their most memorable reading experience of the past ten years. To get you started, a few well-known writers and Powell's employees have already taken the question for a spin. Here is one of their answers.
The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do

The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do
by Samantha Ettus

Your Price: $2.95
(Used - Hardcover)

check for other copies

The Hazards of Good Breeding

The Hazards of Good Breeding
by Jessica Shattuck

Your Price: $5.50
(Used - Trade Paper)

check for other copies


Samantha Ettus's Discovery at the Yellow Umbrella

When my fianc? proposed, we went up to the Cape to spend a romantic weekend relaxing. For us that means long walks, reading, and generally spending coveted time together. I had forgotten to pack my book so we stopped by an old bookstore in Chatham, Massachusetts, called The Yellow Umbrella Bookstore.

I immediately fell in love with the Yellow Umbrella, all of the books in the store were alphabetized rather than divided by genre and then alphabetized as I was used to. Their system seemed simple and lacked pretension, two characteristics shared by the kind of prose I enjoy reading. It was one of those rare occasions of luxury where I approached the shelves with no specific book in mind. As I glanced at the book spines, my gaze was drawn to one called The Hazards of Good Breeding and underneath, the name Jessica Shattuck. Could it be an old acquaintance from college that I had lost touch with? I vaguely recalled hearing that she had published her first novel, but I knew nothing about it. How could I pass it by — I had to read it, if only to support a fellow classmate. Now that my first book is due to hit shelves in a month, I have a deep new appreciation for how important it is to support authors by buying and not borrowing books. In this case, I received more than I even anticipated.

We returned to the hotel and I opened to the first page without any expectations as we nestled ourselves into a beach chair. I blazed through the book, savoring every page making frequent stops to read passages aloud to my fianc?. Even though he was not following the storyline, the dead-on descriptions made it utterly captivating to him and at times we both laughed out loud from Shattuck's clever prose. He still uses one of her descriptions quite regularly, having adopted it as his own. I won't tell you which one yet, you will have to read the book for yourself.

I have thought of contacting the author, to tell her how much I enjoyed the book, and I likely still will. The characters are etched in my mind and it was one of those books that just sticks with you. It left me with a strong desire to share the secret with anyone looking for new fiction. I like to think I discovered the book, though, after doing some research — I have found that many reviewers were compelled by it, too.

About Samantha Ettus
Samantha Ettus has emerged as leading voice on expert talent. Her first book, The Experts' Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do, is a compilation of 100 how-to essays written by leading experts in each category, from Donald Trump on negotiating to the "Holiday Inn Housekeeper of the Year" on making beds. It will be published in September 2004.

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