About This Blog

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not on board with the whole ebook thing. I enjoy books in all their formats. But there is nothing quite like a bookstore with its neatly arranged shelves of books and artfully created displays of new arrivals, best sellers, and suggested reading. I especially enjoy discovering small, independent bookstores and have made it my mission to visit and report back on as many of these gems as I can. That is my focus, but there is really nothing that is off limits as long as it is about books or reading. Hope you enjoy my blog and come back often.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Deception can be a good thing.

Bay Leaf Books
49 E. Lake
P.O. Box 105
Sand Lake, MI 49343-0105

Preferring to forgo the efficiency of the expressway in favor of a more relaxed and far more interesting drive on roads through small towns, I have an assortment of routes that have become my custom when I travel from my home in Lowell, Michigan, to our family cottage near Baldwin. One such route takes me through the small village of Sand Lake. Many times I have passed by the unassuming storefront of Bay Leaf Books. An equal number of times I have thought I should stop to see what this small shop had to offer, but was usually too intent on my journey to the cottage--until recently. The deceptively modest shop exterior belies the noteworthy size and assemblage of items therein.

The store's front door is a portal to a space much larger than the storefront indicates, unfolding into a series of adjacent rooms each housing its own neatly and creatively displayed collections. As the store's namesake herb enhances soups and stews, so too is Bay Leaf Books flavored by a unique collection of items going well beyond what one might expect to find in a used bookstore. There is a splendid collection of books to be sure: antique books, rare books, picture books, books signed by the author, all neatly arranged and classified according to the usual genre designations. My son, Culver, was particularly taken with the substantial science fiction/fantasy choices, and the graphic novel/manga collection was impressive as well.

Most striking of the book displays in my mind, however, was the children's section which comprises a significant portion of the store's square footage. Picture books, sticker books, Beanie Babies, toys, and stuffed animals are all artistically arranged in a bright space that would surely command the interest of any child. And I am happy to report that there is a young adult section featuring many of the current favorites like Uglies, The Hunger Games, and the Pendragon series.

One of the things that really sets Bay Leaf Books apart from the usual used bookstore is the unique offering of non-book items. Pictures, etchings, posters, old magazines, and the like are scattered throughout the store, but most arresting are the glass cases housing rocks, fossils, and other natural items. Who expects to be able to purchase a trilobite or a piece of natural copper in a bookstore?

The store offers a few new items, greeting cards for example, but such items are not sold at new prices. For $5 I purchased an interesting and appropriate new book by Diane Asseo Griliches entitled For the Love of Libraries, containing postcards with library photos from all over the world. My son selected several used science fiction and fantasy volumes, all in excellent condition.

Frequent shoppers at Bay Leaf Books can save money with a punch card. Spend $10 and get a punch; ten punches earn $10 in store credit.

Don't let the deceptive exterior of Bay Leaf Books fool you. Behind the small storefront lies a shop big on personality.

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