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, 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.

Named after Jim's daughter, also an avid reader, Anne's is a used bookstore with a new bookstore feel. Jim says he has a few older books, but that is not his specialty. He concentrates mainly on newer, high quality titles which I found to be neatly organized and nicely displayed. The various genres are well labeled, and the cozy store is easy to navigate. Nevertheless, Jim graciously showed me around the shop ready to answer questions and offer reading suggestions. Although he does buy books for the store from customers, Jim's main source, he told me, is a trade secret from down state.

Situated next to an antique store, Anne's, in business for nearly seven years, occupies an old building that was home to several other businesses before it became Anne's. The walls of the shop are adorned with stenciled borders and painted with fun quotes about reading, friendship, and life. The front window is beautifully decorated with a charming arrangement of old furniture that looks like it could have been in the parlor of an old mansion, complete with wallpaper and a chandelier. Such decorative touches I suspect come from Jim's wife Shirley who loves to decorate. According to Jim, she also enjoys renovating old buildings, so much so that the couple bought an old Masonic Temple a few blocks away. Shirley is currently renovating the building for some future purpose. A Masonic museum perhaps? Not surprisingly, the store has a large selection of Masonic books.

Jim says that Anne's is his retirement shop. In his pre-retirement life he was a university professor holding a Ph.D. in sociology and teaching at such notable places as Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin. He has also done some adjunct work at nearby West Shore Community College.

Jim's interest in the local area was apparent as he recounted for me interesting historical facts about Manistee. I did not know, for example, that on the same day as the famous Chicago fire, Manistee had a fire of its own that took a toll on the shops along its main street. And while I knew that Manistee had been a part of the big Michigan lumbering boom in the 1800's, I did not know that at that time the town had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country. Jim obviously has not entirely left his teaching days behind. I was learning quite a bit about the lovely town of Manistee.

An avid traveler, Jim described for me some of his past travel adventures. He enjoys traveling backpack style and has visited destinations from the Arctic Circle all the way to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America. He has visited Africa multiple times, once staying with nomads in the Moroccan Sahara. And he once hitchhiked from Moscow to Saint Petersburg. Wow! I never cease to be amazed by how fascinating bookstores and their owners are.

Among Anne's wide variety of titles, several caught my eye. One book that has been on my need-to-read list for quite some time is The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, an award-winning bestseller about murder at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. And having recently read, and greatly enjoyed, my first Carl Hiaasen novel, I picked up two more, Skinny Dip and Basket Case. After hearing Jim's stories of Manistee-area history, I felt compelled to learn more about the area and selected one of the few new titles the store offers, an Images of America book by Shannon McRae called Manistee County. I was in luck. Jim informed me that since I had selected four titles, I qualified for a fifth book free of charge. What a bargain. I did not hesitate to add yet another Hiaasen novel, Lucky You, to my list of purchases. Jim cheerfully bagged up my books, throwing in some candy to make a great deal even sweeter.

One charming town, two delightful bookstores and three interesting people, what a way to spend an afternoon. Beginning on a high note at The Bookstore of Manistee with the Pat and Peggy Show, my afternoon ended equally well in an absorbing conversation with Jim Cowie at his charming shop, Anne's. Now all I need is time to read all the great titles I purchased.
The Masonic Temple that Shirley and Jim are renovating

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