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(Image: Malia Karlinsky / Seattle Refined)

Capitol Hill bookshop takes a novel approach to bibliotherapy

There's a shop in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood that's truly a new chapter for book lovers.

Kari Ferguson is the owner of Oh Hello Again, and she literally went by the book when it came to organizing the space.

"Typically, books are organized by author’s last name within sections like fiction or science fiction or fantasy YA, Romance," she said. "So we’ve kind of turned that all on it’s head here."

Yes, Ferguson took a novel approach to the way books are grouped.

"We wanted to bring together books to help people with different moods they're in, or situations - or problems they have in their lives," she said. "Basically it’s a bibliotherapy-based bookstore."

According to another great book, The Dictionary, bibliotherapy is "the use of reading materials for help in solving personal problems."

"We have books for your every mood," said Ferguson.

The idea is, reading books about a specific topic to help you sort through stuff.

"It’s a little bit jarring for some people but once they understand I think they appreciate it," she said.

So does that make Ferguson a bibliotherapist?

"That is a good question!" she laughed. "I am not a therapist officially or anything. I’ve gone to therapy!"

Ferguson found the idea from the works of some bibliotherapists in England, who wrote books like "The Novel Cure" and "The Story Cure."

"I thought this is an interesting idea."

She wrote to them, and shared her idea of opening a bookstore based on their ideas. They gave her their blessings.

"They actually wrote back and said, 'This is great - yeah we’ve always wanted to do that but just haven’t been able to. So I was like ‘Alright - I guess I need to do it now?’"

These days the pandemic is top of mind for many.

"I would say the top five sections right now are family relationship issues, existential crisis, climate change, when you’re bored or when you need a laugh and when you want to be alone."

So far, customers have been on the same page.

"They’ve loved to see all the books together and to be exposed to books they normally wouldn’t look at," said Ferguson. "Also a lot of people who have said, 'Oh I recognize a lot of my favorite books in here and so I trust your taste.'"

She's also an author herself, as well as an avid reader.

"My favorite book right now, children’s book-wise - probably 'The Book of Mistakes,' she said. " Basically the message is when you make a mistake don’t just cross it off and be so ashamed of yourself, but use it and make it into something beautiful. In regards to novels, probably ‘The 13th Tale' by Diane Setterfield is one of my current favorites. It’s kind of spooky and literary and historical fiction."

There is a plot twist in this idyllic tale. While Ferguson runs this adorbale bookshop, her husband is employed by another place that sells books (and a lot more): Amazon.

"That is funny. He’s worked there for about a year as a programmer," she said. "We love it - we love that have that irony going on."

It's all part of the story.

Oh Hello Again is located at 324 15th Ave E #101 Seattle, WA and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12-6 p.m.