Third Place Books is Number One

Mar 31, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Books & Tales, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Marty Wingate

This is the second in our new series where authors and others share about their favorite bookstore!

We need three places in our lives according to sociologist Ray Oldenburg in The Great Good Place: the place we live, the place we work, and another place beyond those where we can gather and interact and form community. That “third place” could be a pub, a coffee shop, or, in my case, my favorite bookstore, Third Place Books.

Third Place Books, opened in 1998, is located in Lake Forest Park—a town just north of Seattle. It’s situated within Third Place Commons, a formerly deserted shopping mall. The downstairs level houses a few small shops and a branch of the county library. The Commons’ large upper floor is an open-plan and comprises not only the bookstore with its 200,000 new, used, and bargain books, but also several eateries (Honey Bear Bakery and its cinnamon rolls are legendary), a meeting room, a stage, and a vast space with tables and chairs and a giant chess board. Third Place is where friends meet for coffee or lunch and writers write (*raises hand*). It is also the place for bridge clubs, tutoring sessions, knitters, book groups, and soccer coaches. I’ve eavesdropped—because after all, that’s what writers do—on job interviews, sales pitches, and blind dates. The Commons is the very essence of the Third Place.

And Third Place is the bookstore—it’s impossible to think of one without the other and it’s impossible not to be impressed by what you see on your first visit. The rows of shelves are arranged so that when you’re wandering through, you never know when you’ll come across: a squashy sofa or cushy armchair inviting you to settle down with that new political thriller or a well-priced used copy of the Booker prize winner from a couple of years back. The layout makes it easy to find the book you want (and several that you didn’t know you needed), and the staff knows their stuff.

Third Place Books supports authors. Of course they do—they’re a bookstore, right? But they also form connections, bringing authors and readers together. I’m a member of the Puget Sound chapter of Sisters in Crime, and we meet regularly at the Commons. We have formed a good relationship with TPB, and so not only does the store host internationally known authors, they are happy to schedule an event when one of our members has a new book out. I can attest to the fact that it’s a great place to hold a book launch.

Arguably, both the second and third places in our lives may have changed dramatically in the past year. Where have you worked for the past year? I spent most of 2020 writing in my car—I’m sure most everyone else has a story of change and upheaval to tell. That third place has been altered by the pandemic, too. But TPB, as well as countless other bookstores, have fought back and found ways to hold fast to the idea that community is needed in our lives, even if it couldn’t meet up face-to-face. Bookstores, such as TPB that embraced Zoom and other online ways to reach readers, have celebrated book launches and held panel discussions allowing people from all over the world to join in. When the world shut down and we weren’t able to browse the shelves, Third Place instituted curbside pickup, reduced mailing fees, and easy peasy online ordering. I confess that I found myself buying more books this past year, and it’s been great fun. When I came across the mention of an interesting book or I was looking for particular titles for research, I clicked, ordered, and collected without any bother.

Marty at book launch in October 2019 for “The Bodies in the Library”

Of course, we are all looking forward to being back inside, sitting on a squashy sofa, ordering a slice of red velvet cake with that latte. But until that’s possible, I am ever so grateful that Third Place Books has managed to stay my virtual “third place.”

Check out Third Place Books on their website.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode just went up.

You can use this link to order this book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Marty Wingate writes the two-book First Edition Library mysteries (The Bodies in the Library; Murder Is a Must), the seven-book Potting Shed Mysteries, four-book Birds of a Feather series, and historical fiction (Glamour Girls). Her website is or email at marty@martywingate[dot]com.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

1 Comment

  1. Can’t wait to visit!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.