The full interview with Pat Banning, owner of Bookends bookstore in Kailua, which took place in February 2008 but has never before been printed.

What I’m Reading | Pat Banning
Owner, Bookends Kailua

Q&A with Christine Thomas
February 2008

-What are you reading?

The problem with me is that a lot of stuff I read is reader’s copies, previewing books, because in my business you really have to know—especially in a little store like this you really have to be able to recommend stuff to people, and know people well. Right at the moment I’m reading a bunch of young adult stuff because we have a bunch of kids reading—you have to blame “Harry Potter” for that. There’s a couple of really good series, one called “Ranger’s Apprentice” and one called “The Percy Jackson”. I tend to feel like if it’s good writing it’s equally appropriate for a grown up as a kid.

I’m also reading that Coconut Island book “Moku o Lo`e: A History of Coconut Island”—maybe it’s the Gilligan’s island syndrome but I’ve always been really curious about Coconut Island and what goes on out there. And what’s really a riot is I’m re-reading a couple of old Agatha Christie novels from the ‘30s I just happened to run across. Nothing brings technology home to you more than reading old Agatha Christie. The sense of ancient history you get from it is so amazing. The plots hold up but the details are so antique—it’s sobering, the way everything has changed. What’s good, too, is “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman. It’s just fascinating and makes us feel better about the planet.

-How do you choose what you read?

I always read the new quality fiction just because you need to know—and we try to discourage people from reading something that’s not going to be entertaining for them. Some people aren’t going to enjoy certain books. So I try to read the newest stuff, and it looks like there’s going to be some good things coming out this year. I try to keep up with the new thriller writers to see if they are up to par. You need to be honest in your evaluations so people can trust you because if you start beating a dead horse, it’s not a good thing for your credibility. And I particularly like good children’s writing. We’re scared about the death of the book and no one’s reading anymore but if you get kids reading and get them hooked into good, good plots, then they’ll read when they’re grown up as well.

-How does your personal reading influence Bookends’ service to a growing and changing community like Kailua?

I don’t know if the clientèle influences me or I influence what I buy for the store. People recommend things to me and I try to read them. But my interests do affect the stuff that we have here. I try and be omnivorous—just try a lot of different things, and fortunately I’m interested in a lot of different things. The subjects I’m not strong on I suspect we’re not strong on, but I try to be open to it all. There’s just too many wonderful things out there.