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.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just Curious

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI 48823

Audrey Hepburn on a movie poster, Jesse Jackson on the cover of a 30-year-old Ebony magazine, a Captain Midnight badge, MSU Spartan memorabilia, superheroes on vintage comic book covers, superheroes larger than life on the wall, maps, playbills, National Geographic, Life, and a 12-volume, 1933 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary . . . what do these things have in common? Curious? Exactly. I saw them all at Curious Book Shop in East Lansing, Michigan. In front of the understated entrance in a simple red brick building, a hand-painted sign displayed the specials of the month while the store's wares spilled out onto the sidewalk on book carts of 50-cent and 1-dollar specials. As I grew closer to the door, bright colors drew my attention to the left where a quirky red door stood open revealing a multi-colored staircase leading to "Upstairs" and "More Nostalgia." What fun, I thought. As I entered what already impressed me as quite a unique shop, I was enthusiastically greeted by two gregarious and bubbly staff members, and I knew this would be a pleasurable visit indeed. Curious? Read on.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Long Live Books!

I must admit that when I first began this blog, I had my doubts as to how long I would be able to continue in this endeavor given the rise in popularity of ebooks. As I've said before, I have nothing against ebooks. It's actually very handy to carry a book around with me on my phone, ready for those times when I have to wait for my appointment in the dentist's office, for example. But print books have so many advantages that I can't, or don't want to, envision my life without them.

For one thing, there is just something about the feel and smell of a paper book. And if I drop a paper book down a flight of stairs, I still have something to read. My eyes don't tire as quickly reading a paper book. There are so many wonderful bookmarks that can only be used in paper books. And that antique bookshelf that my husband just refinished--well, I can't fill that with my favorite ebooks.

I don't know about you, but when I take a break from reading a paper book and mark my place with a favorite bookmark, I always turn the volume sideways to get a visual cue as to my progress. A quick glance will tell me when I have reached the halfway point or when I'm nearing the end. I derive a certain satisfaction from viewing my progress as I make my way through the pages. An ebook does not provide the same satisfaction. So I am happy to know that for the time being at least, paper books are still around, still popular, and still filling the shelves of truly special places called bookstores.

I recently came across an interesting short video that shows the complex printing and binding process. Seeing a book actually come to life further cements my respect for a physical volume that I can actually hold in my hand and thumb through. I thought it appropriate to share it on this blog.

I hope you enjoy Birth of a Book!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Horizon Shines

Horizon Books
243 East Front
Traverse City, MI 49684

What springs to your mind at the mention of J. C. Penney? For me it's my childhood and the annual experience of shopping for school clothes. In my youth, a trip to J. C. Penney, or Penney's as my mom referred to it, meant not a trip to the mall, but to a large, multi-floored, wonder of a department store occupying a single building. Okay, I'll give away my age and admit that malls didn't yet exist during my childhood. These days I still shop at "Penney's" from time to time--yes, in a mall. More convenient, but the experience is just not the same. Whatever your mind conjures up at the mention of this bit of commercial Americana, I'll wager it isn't a bookstore, unless of course you live in Traverse City, Michigan, where an old J. C. Penney store has been transformed into one terrific bookstore. Horizon Books is a large bookstore with a small bookstore feel right in the heart of beautiful downtown Traverse City.

In a recent blog post I mentioned my trip to this lovely northern Michigan coastal city. It was a warm, sunny October day, and I had just enjoyed a visit to another Traverse City bookseller (See Brilliant) where I met up with Tim, my old high school friend and Traverse City resident. I was treated to a tasty lunch at a local eatery, and then the two of us headed off to Horizon. That's right, two bookstores in the same town, on the same street no less. Beautiful town, beautiful day, old friend, and two bookstores . . . it doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Off Topic--Book Review

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

 I'm going to stray from my customary bookstore blog format for just a bit here. Please bear with me. I don't fancy myself much of a book reviewer, but I will give it my best shot since in this case, I think it is well worth the effort.

Obviously I do my fair share of reading. I have posted on this blog a list of some of my favorite books. But rarely does a book come along that moves me to such a degree that I feel immediately compelled to read it again. Such a book is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. So impressed with it was I, that it currently competes for my top honors with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, my heretofore favorite book of all time. No small feat that.

I must, however, begin by noting that I came close to putting the book down and giving up on it during the first 50 pages. This is not to be read by the literary faint of heart. It is challenging, confusing, and mind-numbing. But it is also creative, meaningful, and absolutely brilliant. Not so difficult to read as Joyce's Ulysses, neither is it an easy Hunger Games kind of read.

So then what is it exactly? Well, it is six completely different stories, in six different locations, set in six different time periods, told in six different styles. Yet it is all remarkably held together as a single novel. Mitchell masterfully weaves the characters and stories together in sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious ways to relate a single theme: We are all connected. Our lives affect the world and the lives of others in ways that we cannot always know, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. Transcending this theme is the hopeful idea that the good we do lives on.

The book begins in the 1800's with a tale told via the journal entries of a young California lawyer on a voyage in the South Pacific. It stops, maddeningly, in mid-sentence. It is not, however, an error in printing. The story I soon realized would be completed later. Actually, in each of the first five stories, Mitchell interrupts the action to begin the next tale. The second is a story of a disinherited young composer set in the 1930's and related via letters to his lover. That is followed by a mystery involving an investigative journalist in the 1970's. From there the book moves to modern-day England with the hilarious misadventures of a book publisher. Then it's on to a science fiction story set in a corpocratic future where clones exist as virtual slaves. The sixth and final story, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii, is told in full and makes up the middle of the book, the backbone if you will. Then in reverse order, each of the first five stories is fully completed with the book coming to its conclusion back in the 1800's when the journal picks up in mid sentence right where it left off a few hundred pages earlier. Does your brain hurt yet?

I found Cloud Atlas to be breathtakingly brilliant, and am currently re-reading it to pick up on more of the subtle connections that I no doubt missed on my first reading. What's more, I am toying with the idea of a third reading in which I adjust Mitchell's chronology to read each of the six stories singularly.

Like I said, this book is not for everyone. But if you are one who appreciates exceptional writing, imaginative plot lines, and literary genius, give it a try. Perhaps you will be hooked as I was. Author Dave Eggers hit the nail on the head when he described it as “one of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is—and should be—read by any student of contemporary literature.”

By now you have no doubt heard about the movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas. Of course I saw the movie the day it came out. Although the chronology is completely different (the stories are told in short bursts and move almost simultaneously toward their conclusions), I found it to be a relatively faithful adaptation and appreciated the filmmakers' changes. I do believe that the film could be confusing without some prior knowledge of the format of the novel, so I suggest reading the book before seeing the movie. They complement one another well. Regardless, the movie is well worth seeing. I mean, come on, it has Tom Hanks. In multiple roles no less.

Intrigued? Take a look at the trailer.

  Read the book, see the movie, and then go out and be kind. You'll know what I mean.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Absolutely Brilliant

Brilliant Books
118 E. Front Street
Traverse City, MI

Retirement affords me many luxuries. I can go for a walk in the middle of the day on a Monday or decide to completely chuck my original plans for the day because I suddenly found myself caught up in an engaging movie on AMC. I can grocery shop at 10 a.m. on a weekday without the companionship of crowds. Afterwards I can cook. Real meals. From scratch. With fresh ingredients. I can go to the mall around the holidays at convenient times when the parking lots aren't full. At the risk of being perceived as rubbing salt in the wounds of those of you still laboring at gainful employment, I have to say that one of the greatest luxuries of all is the freedom to hit the road on a beautiful fall day during the week when normal people are working. Whether planned or as the mood strikes, such road trips are always something to be savored. This past October the opportunity for one such road trip presented itself. I took a drive to Traverse City, Michigan, to visit with my old high school friend Tim, who had accompanied me on my trip to Reading Books, the store in an old train car. It goes without saying that there would likely also be a bookstore involved in this trip.

On my trip to "The Most Beautiful Place In America" a little over a year ago when I had barely begun my blogging adventure, I had occasion to visit Brilliant Books, a wonderful little bookstore in nearby Suttons Bay. Since that time, Brilliant Books has opened a new store in downtown Traverse City. An old friend, a new bookstore . . . what more could a retired librarian ask for except maybe perfect weather. It's not often that mid October in northern Michigan supplies sunny, 70-degree weather, but this was one such day. Having made arrangements with Tim to meet at Brilliant Books, I happily hit the road. Oh, and did I mention that it was a Wednesday?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Now this is some library:

Amazing architectural design at the
National Library of Belarus in Minsk.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Cool Book Things

London, Summer 2012

While the 2012 London Olympics garnered worldwide interest, another less publicized but no less amazing feat was occurring in the same city. Brazilian artists, Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo, created a labyrinth, not from brick, not from stone, not even from corn. No, this maze was created with books, a quarter of a million books to be more precise. The idea for the aMAZEme exhibit came from Argentinian writer and educator, Jorge Luis Borges, and was assembled in the shape of his fingerprint. It certainly did aMAZEme.

For a full story about this installation as well as a time-lapsed video of its creation, visit The Guardian online here.

For more pictures of the maze, see an online Washington Post article here.

Lighted River of Books

Another stunning display of books was created in Melbourne, Australia, for its Light In Winter festival. Created on the sidewalks and streets of Melbourne with 10,000 discarded books, the installation literally stopped traffic. The books were lit with LED's creating an illuminated river in the city.

The work of Spanish art collective, Luzinterruptus, the river of books was a fitting tribute to the Light In Winter theme of reading. To see some striking pictures of the installation, visit the Luzinterruptus web site here.

For an article about the installation, click here.

More proof that books are beautiful things!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Minneapolis Adventure, Epilogue

Authors Bookstore
Concourse C
Lindbergh Terminal
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Wedding? Ah yes, the reason we went to Minneapolis in the first place. (See Rumpus and Chapter 2.) We did indeed attend the wedding. Under a vivid blue canopy gently painted with just a hint of clouds, a radiantly beautiful bride walked down the aisle on the arm of an adoring and proud father while I, as is my usual way at weddings, reached into my purse for kleenex. It was a lovely ceremony, and Jim and I both enjoyed the opportunity to visit with relatives we seldom see.

Bright and early, very early, the next morning, somewhat bleary eyed, we were off to the airport for a short flight home. As we sat down in a bustling airport food court to eat a quick breakfast, I found myself amazed at the number of other people who were also up and around at this obnoxiously early hour. For a few moments I simply sipped my coffee and watched the flurry of travelers, grateful that the restaurants were actually open so early. Time of day, it seems, is of no consequence in airports. But then, on the other side of the concourse, beyond the sea of luggage-toting passersby, I noticed something striking. A bookstore. Right there in the airport. And I don't mean a newsstand. I mean an honest-to-goodness bookstore. With limited time before we had to get to our gate, I hastily consumed what was left of my breakfast, left my patient husband sitting alone in the food court, and headed over to check out this airport anomaly, Authors Bookstore.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Minneapolis Adventure, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Books
422 2nd Street
Hudson, WI 54016

Unexpected delays--frustrating. Unforeseen expenses--costly. Untimely interruptions--annoying. Unexpected bookstore--priceless!

You may recall from my previous post (If you haven't read it, you really should.) my husband Jim and I had travelled to the Minneapolis area for a wedding and were enjoying a long weekend stay with relatives, Paul and Gail, who live near the Twin Cities  just across the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin, a beautiful waterfront town offering a congenial mix of art galleries, antique shops, and unique eateries. After an enjoyable Friday, golf for Jim and Paul and a trip to Wild Rumpus bookstore for me and Gail, the four of us decided to have dinner at Barker's, a favorite local establishment. Barker's did not disappoint. The food was delicious, and the conversation was delightful, a perfect end to an enjoyable day. Yet as we left the restaurant, what did I happen to notice directly across the street but a small bookstore. Just a few moments before, I had been content with my accomplishment of squeezing in a bookstore visit on this trip. Now suddenly there existed the possibility of yet another. Gail and I immediately headed across the street to check out Chapter 2 Books. I was in luck; it was still open.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Into The Wild

Wild Rumpus
2720 W. 43rd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Beneath a vivid blue sky punctuated with soft clouds, chickens roam freely, oblivious to a nearby quartet of tailless Manx cats. A variety of bird calls fills the air. Lounging near a small, hollow log, a fat lizard soaks up warmth. A pair of chinchillas quietly sleeps while less than 20 feet away, two ferrets look equally relaxed. Nature preserve? Zoo? Wildlife sanctuary?

Nope. Bookstore. That's right. I was in the middle of a bookstore. To be more precise, I had arrived at what is certainly one of the most unique and memorable bookstores I have ever visited, Wild Rumpus, Books for Young Readers, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to back up and give you some details about this marvelous bookstore adventure.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Awesomeness Repurposed

 It has been a little more than a year since I began this blog, and I have to say that I have been more than pleasantly surprised at the number and vitality of bookstores that I have discovered. Independent booksellers are not only alive and well, but they are more often than not interesting, unique, and inspiring places occupying not just traditional buildings, but also frequently residing in unconventional spaces and unexpected places. I have visited bookstores in small towns and large cosmopolitan cities, in small strip malls, and high-rise shopping centers. I have seen a bookstore in a log cabin and a log cabin in a bookstore. I have met a talking bookstore dog, visited a bookstore with a bullet-proof wall, and become part of a book club in a bookstore that offers live music. I have enjoyed bookstores in lovely tourist towns and bookstores practically in the middle of nowhere.
King Books in Detroit

Recently a friend (Thanks, Cassie.) passed on an article titled, Ten Awesome Bookstores Repurposed From Unused Structures. This idea came as no shock to me, nor was it shocking to find that one of the ten turned out to be a fantastic store that I blogged about last year. King Books, the largest bookstore in Michigan, occupies what once was a glove factory. My visit to King Books was such a "big" experience that I did a two-part blog post about it. I was thrilled to see it mentioned in the article.

I have an 11th bookstore to add to the list. Last December I had the distinct pleasure of visiting a splendid and unexpected repurposed structure converted to a bookstore. Reading Books in Rockford, Michigan, is housed in an old train car. I think that's pretty awesome.

Take a look at these awesome bookstore conversions for yourself:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reading Is Forever

Forever Books
312 State Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085

There's an old saying in Michigan, "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes; it'll change." The expectation of a week's vacation without at least one rainy day is wishful thinking to say the least. As you can imagine then, I was not surprised when I awoke to rainy weather on our second full day of vacation. (See previous post.) Neither was I discouraged by this climatic development. Quite the contrary, for cloudy skies provide a perfect opportunity for indoor activities which might otherwise engender feelings of guilt when enjoyed on a day when the weather is beautiful and it is nearly a sin to stay indoors. So with the day perfectly suited for a bookstore visit, my son Culver and I headed out on a short road trip from New Buffalo to the nearby town of St. Joseph, home of Forever Books.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blast From The Past (and the Present)

Buffalo Books
120 W. Buffalo
New Buffalo, MI 49117

What do you get when you combine a charming Lake Michigan coastal tourist town with fireworks? For the Redd family, that combination made for one fantastic vacation. Although he is a hobbyist, not a professional, my husband Jim is a certified pyrotechnician, and my son Culver and I are avid fans of his fireworks hobby. Each year for the past decade we have spent a week in August attending the Pyrotechnics Guild International annual convention where we enjoy hours of beautifully choreographed fireworks displays among other pyro delights. This year's convention was held for the first time in LaPorte, Indiana, just a little over two hours' drive from our home. We decided to spend the week at a nearby resort in New Buffalo, Michigan, on the shores of what we locals refer to as the Big Lake. After last year's convention in Fargo, North Dakota, it was quite a relief to have such a short drive, and the close proximity also afforded us the pleasure of having Culver's girlfriend Alysandra with us for a portion of the week.

"What does all this have to do with bookstores?" you are probably wondering. Well, no self-respecting bibliomaniac is going to be on vacation in a quaint tourist town without checking to see if there is a bookstore in the area. And I was in luck. As it turns out, New Buffalo is home to Buffalo Books, a delightful and interesting used bookstore with a truly fascinating owner. What's more, it was just a few blocks from our hotel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Feed Your Body. Feed Your Mind.

Update: Almost exactly a year ago when I was a newbie in the world of blogging, I visited an impressive shop in Sand Lake, Michigan. (See Deception.) A year later, while I am no longer a newbie, I am still learning and growing as a blogger, and Bay Leaf Books is still an impressive and innovative store. Hats off to Bay Leaf Books. I just learned from the store Facebook page that their innovation extends to farm fresh brown eggs and organically grown vegetables. Who knew that purple jalapeƱo peppers even existed? Bay Leaf is truly a unique store. Check them out on their Facebook page at:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Like A Box Of Chocolates

Tammy's Bookworm
2645 Houghton Lake Drive
Houghton Lake, MI 48629

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Most of us are familiar with that iconic line from Forrest Gump. I think the saying can be applied equally to bookstores. You can't tell from the outside what awaits you on the inside. Well, okay, if it's a Barnes and Noble, you know precisely what you're going to get. Therein lies my fascination with independent bookstores, each one unique with its own delightful story to tell. Just such a store is Tammy's Bookworm in the northern Michigan vacation town of Houghton Lake.

Store owner Tammy Jones
Traveling along the busy drive beside the shores of Houghton Lake, it would be easy to miss this shop with its simple, unassuming exterior. But you'd be missing out. Tammy's is a used bookstore with much to offer and proves the point that with small bookstores, like life, you never know what you're gonna get.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Astronomical Delight

Saturn Booksellers
133 W. Main Street
Gaylord, MI 49735

Very early in the morning on Monday, August 6, at 1:31 ET to be exact, the scientific world applauded as NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover made what was by all accounts, a perfect landing. Soon after, it began sending photos back to Earth. By pure coincidence, not 48 hours prior to this magnificent achievement, I experienced my own style of astronomical curiosity when I had the good fortune to visit not Mars, but Saturn--Saturn Booksellers that is. For curious bibliomaniacs like me, this unique bookstore in Gaylord, Michigan, is out of this world.

About an hour's drive from Michigan's beautiful Mackinac Bridge, Gaylord is located in the heart of the northern lower peninsula on the 45th parallel in an area rich with golf courses, ski resorts, and scenic beauty. Saturn Booksellers is a longtime fixture in the town, serving the literary needs of the Gaylord area for the past 20 years or so. Now occupying its second location, the store has one of the most unique interiors I have come across. It's not every day that you find a log cabin in the middle of a bookstore.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The World's Largest Library, Part II

Inside the Capitol

The Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20540

During this hot, dry summer, it seems hard to remember when I actually resented a rainy day. Our fourth day in DC was one such day. When I left the hotel that morning, the rain had not yet begun to fall, but a quick glance at the sky left little doubt that the morning weather predictions would prove accurate at any moment. I had plans to meet up with a former student and book club member later that evening. By sheer happenstance Ryan was, at the very time of my trip to Washington, completing an internship with a Michigan congressman. (Coincidentally, Ryan is the same bookstore enthusiast who introduced me to the fascinating Mecosta Book Gallery.) We had planned to meet a couple of blocks from the Capitol, and since I had never actually been inside that grand building, I thought it would be a great place to wait out the rain.

The top of the Capitol Dome
I enjoyed a couple of pleasant, informative hours in the beautiful and stately building culminating in a guided tour that is the only way by which visitors can actually get a first-hand look at the impressive dome. Now, you might be wondering what my visit to the Capitol has to do with the subject of this post, the Library of Congress. Well, as it turns out, the rain was still coming down at the end of my Capitol tour, and just as I was thinking that I may be spending another few hours there, the tour guide informed us of a very special feature of the building--a tunnel to the Library of Congress. That's right; I could enjoy another visit to the LOC without ever going outside. I immediately headed for the tunnel.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Marble, Marble Everywhere, The World's Largest Library

The Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20540

Now I know the Library of Congress is not a bookstore, but it does have books, and it does have a store. And those who have been reading my blog for a while already know that the retired librarian in me can't help but write about a library once in a while, especially if it is a fantastic library. (See Hong Kong, IV) And believe me, the Library of Congress is a fantastic library, so special in fact, that I will be devoting two blog posts to it. It is the world's largest library, after all, and I think that's pretty special indeed.

On our first full day in Washington, D.C., during a recent trip, (See Capital) my husband and I decided to forego our original Smithsonian plans to dodge the heat and the Girl Scouts in the Library of Congress. Even if you don't particularly care for libraries (although for the life of me, I can't see why anyone wouldn't love a library) the Jefferson Building's architecture alone is spectacular and well worth a visit. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Holy Cow This Is Great

That was the subject line of the email my son sent me with a link to this story. I too think it's great--too great not to post. Check out this story and see what you think:
Where Wal-Mart departs, a library succeeds

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In And Around Our Nation's Capital, Part III

Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC 20008

 Just ask my husband and he'll tell you that at times I can get almost as worked up about politics as I can about books. We jokingly refer to each presidential election year as yet another test of our marriage. So what more appropriate bookstore for me to visit in the D.C. area than Politics and Prose, a name which encompasses both highly charged interests. This store had come highly recommended to me by a number of people, so I was looking forward to seeing it for myself. I was not disappointed.

Politics and Prose is about a mile walk from the Metro, but worth the trip. Its long, awning-covered, glass storefront is situated on a wide sidewalk in a semi-residential area. I felt at home right away upon seeing a sign in the window stating, "We love local blogs." Barely through the door, I was greeted by a friendly staff member. As a matter of fact, the entire staff was incredibly helpful. Everywhere I turned, someone was asking if I needed any assistance.

Monday, June 25, 2012

In And Around Our Nation's Capital, Part II

Hooray for Books!
1555 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

There is something quite gratifying about walking along old cobblestone streets through historic districts that have known the likes of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Librarians often seem to have an interest in historical things, perhaps even more so in my case. Although I never had the pleasure of doing so, I am certified to teach history and have a profound fascination for historic places such as Gettysburg and Williamsburg. No less captivating is Old Alexandria, Virginia, a short ride by water taxi from our hotel across the river in Maryland. With D.C. seemingly overrun by Girl Scouts, my husband and I, undaunted by the heat and humidity, decided to spend a Sunday afternoon walking the old streets and seeing the sights of Alexandria. After an engaging tour of the beautiful Lee-Fendall House, we temporarily parted ways. My husband went on to visit the landmark George Washington Masonic Memorial while I, of course, visited a bookstore whose name perfectly captures my sentiments: Hooray for Books!

Maryam and Leah
A small hanging sign ornaments what is otherwise a plain red brick exterior. Inside, the store is anything but plain. Hooray for Books! as the name suggests, is a children's bookstore now occupying what was formerly, well, a children's bookstore. The current owners actually worked at the previous store, and although they were not present at the time of my visit, I was in very good hands with two delightful young staff members, Maryam and Leah, who were more than happy to share information about the shop. Maryam started working at the store shortly after it opened four years ago when she was still in high school, and Leah, a relative newbie, joined the staff this past February. The two have an obvious love of children and books. Both grew up in households with mothers who ran home daycares. Leah spent time as a nanny in Madrid, and Maryam is currently studying developmental psychology.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In And Around Our Nation's Capital

Inside the Capitol Dome

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know how lucky I was to be able to visit Hong Kong with my husband when he had a business trip to China last February. It was a fabulous trip. (See Hong Kong)
This month he was scheduled to attend a conference in Washington D.C. so I decided to tag along on that trip as well. Gotta love the frequent flier mileage program. We arrived a weekend ahead of the conference with plans to visit the Smithsonian on Saturday and nearby Mt. Vernon on Sunday. Our plans rapidly changed, however. As it turns out, we were sharing that weekend in our nation's capital with over 200,000 Girl Scouts who were in town for the 100th anniversary of their organization. Crowded on the Mall? You bet. Crowded on the Metro? Absolutely. And we learned that Mt. Vernon also had a special day for the Girl Scouts planned for Sunday. Luckily there is much to see and do in D.C., so we quickly revamped our plans and had a very enjoyable visit.

Library of Congress
During the week while my husband was attending the conference, I of course found time to visit a couple of bookstores and the fabulous Library of Congress. Watch for upcoming blog posts about the trip.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weapon Of Mass Instruction

You have to see this!
An artist in Argentina has transformed an old Ford Falcon into a roving free library. Thanks, Marie, for sharing. This was so good I had to pass it on.

Note: Video will not play directly on my blog.
Click the play arrow; then click "Watch on Youtube."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Save The Bookstores Day

Support Save the Bookstores Day on Saturday, June 16, 2012.
This is a way to show our favorite brick-and-mortar bookstores that they still matter.
Buy a book, or 2, or 5.

Support the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/326646234062397/

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making More Memories In Manistee

Anne's Book Store
380 River
Manistee, MI 49660

What's better than a fun visit to a great bookstore? Why, another great bookstore in the same town, of course. And when it's only a block away, it just doesn't get any better for a bibliomaniac like me. Thanks again to Jim Aldrich
(see J & J Book Dealers) for the perfect term to describe those among us with a severe case of book lust.

I was still smiling from my visit with Pat and Peggy at The Bookstore of Manistee when I walked through the door of Anne's and met owner, Jim Cowie, a remarkably interesting individual and fellow bibliomaniac who says he simply enjoys being around books. Now I can relate to that.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bookstore And So Much More

The Bookstore
391 River Street
Manistee, MI

One of the luxuries retirement affords me is the ability to spend time at the family cottage during the week when most of the people on the lake have gone home to school and jobs. It's not exactly schadenfreude, although I must admit that I do derive a small amount of satisfaction from the fact that when I do return home, my departure will be dictated largely by the weather forecast rather than the commitments of employment. But the real luxury is the peace, the tranquility, and the joy that comes from setting my own schedule. I can enjoy a late breakfast on the deck during what would have been second hour and then go for a walk around our small, 40-acre lake during third hour.

Time at the cottage with no commitments comes with yet another advantage. The cottage is in a prime location for more than just sun and swimming. The nearest town, Baldwin, Michigan, is situated within a reasonable drive to many small Michigan tourist towns, and such towns, I have discovered, are often home to interesting small bookstores. Those who have been readers of my blog since I began this journey 10 months ago, will remember that my very first post concerned just such a town, Ludington. (See The Book Mark) Recently, I took the opportunity to visit Manistee, another charming tourist town less than an hour from the cottage. It was there that I visited a delightful establishment called simply The Bookstore. I would soon learn that it is much more than that simple name implies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

Bestsellers Books & Coffee Co.
On The Courthouse Square
360 Jefferson St.
Mason, MI 48854

I've been very lucky. So many times when I have paid a visit to a new bookstore, I have enjoyed blue skies and remarkable weather. But you can't have a perfect day every day. Sometimes there are clouds, and even a little rain. On a rather bleak morning in April, I set out for the small town of Mason, Michigan, a short drive from Michigan State University where my son is a graduate student. Later in the day I would be meeting him for lunch. Meanwhile, during the hour or so that it took to drive from my home to Mason, I was just hoping that the impending rain would hold off long enough for me to locate Bestsellers, Books and Coffee Co.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Share--More Fantastic Book Art

Once again Bay Leaf Books (see Bay Leaf ) has shared a link to some spectacular
book art.

Check this out: Book Paintings by Mike Stilkey

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Bit Of Nostalgia

The Reading Place
136 S. Cochran
Charlotte, MI 48813

I have a guilty pleasure to confess: my husband and I are avid viewers of the TVLand cable network. Ah, the good ole days of TV when not all the shows were in color and there was more show and less commercial time. Our particular favorites are M*A*S*H. and Bonanza. Who can resist the sarcastic, yet charming Hawkeye hurling insults at Frank Burns or the drama of Adam, Hos, and Pa riding in at the last minute to get Little Joe out of yet another unfortunate situation? Perhaps one must be of my generation or older to fully understand the nostalgia these old shows evoke, a nostalgia I did not anticipate encountering when I entered The Reading Place in Charlotte, Michigan.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Other Mecosta Bookstore

J & J Book Dealers
196 W. Main
Mecosta, MI 49332

Recipe for a new bookstore:
Take one self-described bibliomaniac with years of experience and mentoring from experts in the field. Add one artistically talented spouse with a love of all things vintage. Mix with generous amounts of passion, hard work, and of course, an assortment of gently-used books. Patiently blend all ingredients in a location with a proven appreciation for the printed word. Tend carefully and enjoy serving new customers.

Less than a year ago, Jim Aldrich and his wife Jacqueline began mixing their unique experience and abilities to cook up a savory new shop, J & J Book Dealers, in the small village of Mecosta, Michigan. 

In the same way that a good loaf of sourdough bread begins with a starter from the mother dough, J & J got its start across the street at the Mecosta Book Gallery (see Books, Books, Books) where Jim began working when he was in his teens. Under the tutelage of Alex and John Rau, young Jim learned the ins and outs of the book selling business eventually developing the idea of one day having a shop of his own. So when a former real estate office in Mecosta became available, Jim and Jacqueline jumped at the chance to turn it into J & J Book Dealers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Books, Books, and More Books

Mecosta Book Gallery
171 W. Main (M-20)
PO Box 370
Mecosta, MI 49332-0370

It was a crisp, bright day "in just spring when the world is mud-luscious" to quote my favorite poet, E. E. Cummings. It was the perfect kind of day for a trip to the middle of nowhere, and that is just where I was headed. OK, "the middle of nowhere" may be teetering on the edge of hyperbole, but it is not at all a stretch to say that Mecosta, Michigan, is well off the beaten path. So what prompted this remote, rural excursion? Why-- a bookstore, of course--the Mecosta Book Gallery, to be specific. This would actually be my second visit to this out-of-the-way establishment having made the trip a few years ago (before my blogging days) on the advice of a former student and high school book club member. (Thanks, Ryan!) My time was limited on that first visit, but I was intrigued by the place and knew that I would eventually return to the Mecosta Book Gallery.

So with my trusty camera and notebook in hand, I hit the road, heading away from the city, away from major expressways, away from traffic, congestion, and stress. Finding the pastoral drive quite rejuvenating and relaxing, I travelled past patient farm fields awaiting spring planting, past cows grazing in the sun, past orchards whose fruit trees heralded spring with floral fireworks. On I went into Amish country where neat farmhouses, well-kept barns, and horse-drawn carriages bespeak a simpler life. On this day I would see no fewer than four such carriages driven by straw-hatted Amish men. My drive would take me through a few small farm towns before I eventually arrived in Mecosta, a sparsely populated village barely three blocks long.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Feed the Mind

The Bookman
715 Washington Street
Grand Haven, MI 49417

Having grown up in the Lake Michigan shoreline city of Muskegon, I am intimately acquainted with the weather patterns along the "Big Lake," as we locals call it. The month of March, for example, often brings deceptively sunny days that to the indoor observer seem springlike and warm, while in reality the sharp breezes off the still-icy lake will make your cheeks red and bring tears to your eyes. At this time of year, dirty remnants of snow plow banks are still sometimes as high as a three-year-old child. Imagine my incredulity this past March 20, when on a visit to the town of Grand Haven, a short drive down the lakeshore from Muskegon, I observed no ice on the lake and no remains of snow. Instead the beach was miraculously crowded with what? Sun bathers? Had I somehow been transported a few months into the future? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Nook Update

The Book Nook & Java Shop
8726 Ferry Street
Montague, MI 49437

One warm day last November, I had the pleasure of visiting the Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague, Michigan. (See "Friends Don't Let Friends Drink STARBUCKS") On a similar day four months later, I had occasion to visit this delightful shop once again. After remarking on my first visit that perhaps I would return for a meeting of the Book Nook's book club, I did indeed return--three times. Yes, I am hooked on Bryan Uecker's book selections and the friendly, welcoming club members. But there was something especially tantalizing about this third visit: we would have the opportunity to meet the author of the current selection, Spirits and Wine.

I found Susan Newhof to be every bit as charming as her book. Part mystery, part ghost story, the tale is set in a fictitious Lake Michigan coastal town not unlike Montague, home of the Book Nook and home to the author as well. Susan says the plot came together for her in about 15 minutes, inspired by her real-life experience with a spirit in her own house. Spirits and Wine is an engaging read about the travails of a newly-married, middle-aged couple who discover a spirit inhabiting their old house. I am not generally a mystery reader, but I very much enjoyed this book and its captivating author. To see a video of Susan and Bryan discussing Spirits and Wine on WZZM's Take Five Book Club, click Take Five.

Exciting changes are in store for the Book Nook; the entire store will be packing up and moving later this spring. After the book club meeting, Bryan treated us to a tour of the new digs, a couple doors down from the current location. Currently being renovated, the new, much more spacious location will accommodate a larger stage, a kitchen, and a conference room in addition to a wine bar, cafe, outdoor patio, and deck. Bryan enthusiastically described plans to feature a small lunch menu with tapas in the evening, and a wine dinner once a month. But his eyes lit up when he mentioned his recent acquisition, a pump organ. You may recall that one of the things I first noticed on my initial visit to the Book Nook was the piano. And now a pump organ and a large stage. Wow. (Of course, there will still be books!) I anticipate these changes will establish the Book Nook as the heart of Montague, Michigan. I can't wait to visit again after the grand opening slated for Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spectacular Hong Kong, Part IV

Final Chapter

On our second full day in Hong Kong, while admiring the view from our room, I became aware of one lovely building that, not being a skyscraper, stood out from the rest. While it wasn't small by any means, it looked diminutive compared to the surrounding structures. Beneath large Chinese characters on the front of the building were English words. I strained my eyes to make them out and was delighted when I read "Hong Kong Central Library." 

This I had to see.
I know. I know. A library is not a bookstore, but I am a retired librarian after all, and libraries are related to bookstores in many ways. And this was such a grand library that I thought it well worth a brief post. I called my husband to the window, and he agreed that it deserved a closer look.