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.

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.