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This new indie bookstore categorizes books by emotion.

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January 22, 2021, 11:19am

It’s rare to see Raven Leilani’s Luster next to Doctor De Soto, William Steig’s children’s book about a mouse that performs dental surgery—but this is par for the course at Oh Hello Again, Seattle’s newest bookshop. Oh Hello Again, rather than shelving books by genre and author, categorizes books by emotion; so Luster and Doctor De Soto both live on a shelf called “On The Troubles of Growing Up and Moving On.” A shelf called “On Expressing Feelings” houses both Madalena Moniz’s children’s book Today I Feel… and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Other categories include “For PMS and When You Don’t Want to get Out of Bed”; “Being an Outsider (or Wanting to Be Left Alone)”; “For Escaping Your Life”; and “When You Wonder ‘…But What If?’”

Oh Hello Again owner Kari Ferguson, who previously founded Dickens Children’s Books in Vancouver, Washington, was inspired to create Oh Hello Again by Ellen Berthoud and Susan Elderkin’s concept of bibliotherapy—the idea that reading the right book at the right time can help people heal and move on from emotional struggle. Said Ferguson to the Seattle Times, “I want a person to come in [to Oh Hello Again] and look around and say, What do I need right now? What kind of book would help me in my life  based on what I’m going through, or how I’m feeling?” Though some customers have been initially confused, Ferguson has noticed readers buying books they wouldn’t ordinarily encounter because of the unique shelving system—like childless adults purchasing Chicken Soup with Rice when they see it in the section on being sick and alone.

What a charming idea! And if this just isn’t for you, you can always patronize one of Seattle’s many other indie bookshops, which feature shelves for emotions such as “When You Are Wanting To Read A Book By An Author Whose Surname Starts With K.”

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