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, 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.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spectacular Hong Kong, Part III

Victoria Park as viewed from our hotel room
The adventure continues . . .
From contemporary to traditional

Swindon Book Co., Ltd
13-15 Lock Road, Tsimshatsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong

After Hong Kong's Times Square and the unexpected pleasure of Page One books, we hoofed it back toward our hotel in the Causeway Bay area. Before going up to our room, however, we decided to take a side trip through Victoria Park, a lovely area that comprised the majority of the view from our room. I was savoring the opportunity to wear a t-shirt, cropped pants, and flip flops in the middle of February and wished to augment that joy with a close-up look at the park's palms, unfamiliar exotic trees, blooming azaleas, and various tropical flowers whose names I don't know. A tranquil respite from the fast-paced city, Victoria Park is paradoxically nestled in the midst of skyscrapers, highways, and the busy harbour.

Nowhere is the famous east-meets-west aspect of Hong Kong more evident than in this lovely park. At first morning light, the large grassy area in the center is the scene of locals practicing T'ai chi while a likeness of the park's royal namesake, Queen Victoria, stands at the entrance. Nowadays, the sun does indeed set on British soil, yet a profound British influence is still apparent in Hong Kong, an influence also exemplified in the next bookstore on my list, Swindon. After a brief rest stop at our hotel, we set off again across Victoria Harbour to the Kowloon area in search of this old store.