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.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Doctor's Orders

Literary Life
Bookstore & More, Inc.
758 Wealthy Street, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Question: What do an old bank, a doctor, and a bookstore have in common? Answer: Not much unless a doctor purchases an old bank and turns it into a unique and interesting bookstore. That is exactly what happened in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when a doctor with a passion for all things literary devoted three years to renovating a classic old bank building. From the dust and debris emerged Literary Life Bookstore & More, Inc., an establishment in which the owner's enthusiasm for the written word is, well, contagious.

While the building has served as a bookstore for a little over four years, much of the original bank building, both outside and in, has been preserved. A former check-writing table now serves as the checkout desk while classic moldings accentuate the stately windows, walls, and high ceilings. Much of the original tile flooring is still in place along with beautiful marble baseboards. The addition of tables and chairs, a fireplace, and a comfy couch make the shop feel warm and inviting.

"We take pride in the personal attention we provide," says Jennifer, the helpful staff person who greeted me immediately upon my arrival. The shop does an abundance of special orders, staff members enjoy suggesting reading material for patrons, and the sale of e-books is in the planning stages. Special events, typically author visits, are commonplace occurring at least once a month.

The influence of the doctor is readily apparent at Literary Life, the first bookstore I have visited with a section for "Literature and Medicine." Jennifer assured me, however, that the focus is not on "nagging" books about health, although I do agree wholeheartedly with the good doctor's assessment that "Reading is good for you!" This medical influence is extended in a whimsical way with a charming display of cuddly, stuffed giant microbes peeking out from the drawers of an old oak card catalog. Who would have thought that a common cold virus could be cute?

Of course, the children's and young adult sections are always of special interest to me, and at Literary Life care has been taken to create displays that will encourage reading for the younger set. Basking in the light streaming in from the grand old windows, these sections occupy prime real estate in this relatively small bookstore. A miniature table and chairs invites children to sit and browse one of the high-interest titles displayed. In the YA area, I took special note of a collection of graphic novelizations of classic literature such as Jane Eyre and Great Expectations. I would love to have had these books to entice teen readers in my high school library.

Literary Life truly lives up to its name. This shop is all about books. To be sure, there are items for sale beyond books, but for the most part they are literary in nature. Bookmarks, reading glasses, and literary postcards are scattered throughout the shop, and even the original artwork that adorns the tops of the bookshelves has a literary influence. For those of you new to this blog, I make it a point to purchase something from every bookstore I discuss. Since Great Expectations is one of my favorite classic novels, indeed my favorite Dickens work, I could not resist buying the graphic version as well as a Charles Dickens book mark to go with it.

So you see an old bank, a doctor, and a bookstore can have much in common. The medical profession and a love of all things literary are nicely melded within the stately confines of a bank building turned bookstore called Literary Life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sounds wonderful! I will absolutely have to visit the next time I am in Grand Rapids!