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.
So maybe you don't really care about
writing and grammer thats are problem not your's. Maybe the wrong use
of a word don't really bother you. Maybe random Capitols or missing
comas don't cause you concern. Your not one of those people who pay
much attention to how a sentence is written. If theres errors to bad.
You could care less. Its not something you really think about.
On the other hand, maybe errors like
those in the previous paragraph drive you up a wall. Maybe you even
had trouble making sense of it. Now, I'm not one to go around
correcting other people's grammar unless I'm asked. Grammar nazis can
be annoying. But your writing and grammar, like it or not, create an
impression. In my last post I talked about the importance of reading.
Now I'd like to spend a little time on its cousin, writing.
Let me just say right off the bat that
this is not a shameless commercial promotion for Kellogg's cereals.
Yes, I am a cereal lover; and yes, I do buy Kellogg's cereals from
time to time. But that's not what this is about. More of an "atta
boy!" That's what this is about. Kudos to Kellogg's and
Scholastic Books for creating a program that puts free books in the
hands of young readers. How could any self-respecting school
librarian turn that offer down.
I just went online and ordered my first
free book. After it arrives in my mail in about 8 weeks, I will head
to my old school and donate it to an English teacher friend who is
always in need of more books for her classroom library. I also had
the option to donate the book directly to a school.
The promotion information on the back
of the box rightly points out what every librarian already knows:
Reading can boost self-confidence and improves a child's ability to
think creatively and critically. Librarians also know that reading
can improve vocabulary and writing skills along with a host of other
benefits. Good readers are better students.
Free books? Count me in on this deal.
Hats off to Kellogg's and Scholastic. If you are interested in this
deal, look for specially-marked boxes of Kellogg's cereal, and check
out the Fuel for School promotion at www.freebookoffer.com.
What do you do when you've just opened
a small independent bookstore in a charming Lake Michigan tourist
town and one month later the Book World chain opens a store just down
the street? Well, if you're the owners, Dianne and Bill Dupont, you
carry on and do everything you can to make your store a success. Six
years later it would appear that they have done just that. Round Lake
Bookstore in Charlevoix, Michigan, by my observation is thriving.
Now this is a school library. Okay,
more precisely, it's a school turned into a public library. And what
a library it is. The story begins over 85 years ago in the charming
northern Michigan tourist town of Charlevoix, Michigan. In 1927 a
grade school and gymnasium was built which served the local children
for more than 70 years, beginning as a K-8 school, then becoming a
K-12 school, and in the 60's--a middle school. The campus was later
abandoned after a new middle school was built in 2004. Luckily, it
wasn't abandoned for long.
I've said this before. I have nothing
against technology. I'm a big fan, actually. I would be lost without
my computer and iPhone. I spend time reading on those devices every
day. I even read ebooks from time to time. They're great for long
waits at the auto repair shop. That said, I will always prefer print
media. The tactile experience of flipping real pages cannot be
replicated electronically. I'm also a reader who is prone to flipping
back to earlier pages to double check something or reread a pertinent
passage. This may bring gasps from some readers, but yes, I do
sometimes crimp important page corners and write in my books. And
when I close a book and put it aside until later, I always take a
peak at it from the top to see how far along I am. Book marks are not
just for marking my place, but also for marking my progress. These
are habits not so easily managed with an ebook. So I'm greedy. I want
to give up neither technology nor printed books. But when the power
is out or the battery is dead, I can still read if I have a paper
As you can probably guess, I have
always been more of a words person than a numbers and science person.
I usually refer to my condition as a math allergy. Numbers give me a
rash, at least symbolically. And science? Well, that often includes
math, so . . .
Now it seems that science might be on
my side. Thanks to Alysandra, my science/math-oriented future
daughter-in-law for sending me this thought-provoking article. It
seems that science may actually indicate serious advantages to
reading paper books. Click the link below, and see what you think.
Last summer I got used in Pentwater,
Michigan. Used books that is. The brainchild of Timothy Lux, Booked
for the Season was my first encounter with the unique concept of
selling used books on consignment. (See earlier post.) Imagine my delight when I learned
that there are other Booked for the Season stores. What's more, they
are not too far from my home in Lowell. A sunny September day
provided the perfect opportunity to make the brief drive to Grand
Haven, another lovely Michigan tourist town, in search of an opportunity to get used again.
We now return you to our regularly
scheduled programming. To recap our last bookstore episode: while on
vacation, my husband and I had stopped in Iowa City and had just
enjoyed a visit to the renowned Prairie Lights bookstore. With plenty
of time still left in our day, we set off to check out another
establishment only a few blocks away, a shop that would prove to be
entirely different, yet equally fascinating. I've been saving this
one. Now as the farm stands are bursting with apples, potted mums,
and other trappings of fall, now when there is frost in the forecast
and the suggestion of autumn color, now when corn mazes rather than
beaches provide weekend entertainment and thoughts of Halloween are
not too far distant, now is the appropriate time to tell you about
The Haunted Bookshop.
If you've read many of my posts about
books, you probably have a pretty good idea that I enjoy historical
fiction. That genre encompasses not just several titles that I have
loved, but some of my very favorites. That said, I also
relish a good historical nonfiction title from time to time. Just a
few hours before this writing, I finished reading Unbroken by Laura
Hillenbrand. More than simply a good book, this one will stick with
me for a long, long time. This story of WWII hardship, survival, and
courage is an inspiration. Difficult to read at times because of the
detailed descriptions of the suffering and tribulation these men
endured, it has only made my respect and admiration for the soldiers
of WWII more profound.
I anxiously await the movie adaptation
of Unbroken, scheduled to be released this Christmas. I hope it does
the book justice. If this trailer is any indication, I don't think I
will be disappointed.
Forgive me, Sparty, for I have found
another. No. No. Don't get me wrong. You will always be my number
one, but I have developed a new admiration for another B1G
university. Okay, so it's mainly just another university town, but
still, I feel a tiny bit guilty. Allow me to explain. Recently while
on our annual trek to the Pyrotechnics Guild International
convention, this year held in Mason City, IA, my husband and I had
occasion to spend a night in Iowa City, home of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
It's not East Lansing, but it's a wonderful place. Almost
immediately, I fell in love with the city. Friendly people, great
restaurants, live Friday-night music in the charming town square, and
of course bookstores--what's not to love? Our stopover in Iowa City
was actually prompted by a bookstore that has been on my bucket list
for several months now. (See Bucket List.) I was excited to have
this opportunity to visit well-known book lovers' bookstore, Prairie
Lights, and happy to have my husband Jim along on this visit.
Recently while on safari in search of
the sometimes elusive independent bookstore, I encountered a rare
breed of the species, one that I had never before seen or even knew
existed--the consignment bookstore. Deep in the heart of the western
Michigan tourist oasis of Pentwater, I encountered this intriguing
shop called Booked for the Season, so named as it is open only during
the summer. Through wide-open double doors, I entered the smallish
space with rustic floor boards and thatch-covered walls accentuated
here and there with brightly colored, stylized lizards.
This poster, reportedly in the window of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford, is enough to compel me to add this store to my bookstore bucket list. The title of the shop is another good reason. Photo from imgur.
"Don't judge a book by its cover."
We've all heard that expression. It's not what's on the cover, but
what's between the covers that's important. Last summer I had the
pleasure of finding what's between the covers in the charming town of
Harbor Springs, Michigan. Of course I'm talking about a bookstore
called Between the Covers. (See Delightful Book Cellar.) At the time of my visit, the shop occupied
a small basement space, and the owner was hopeful of eventually
moving up to street level. Well, it looks like she got her wish. The
store has moved to new digs, so I naturally had to take a drive up
north to have a look.
After 3 years during which thousands of book givers distributed over a million and a half specially published paperbacks across America, sadly World Book Night is suspending operations due to lack of funding. I was fortunate to have participated in the event for the past two years.
I have done several posts about this program. If you aren't familiar with it, you can type World Book Night in the search box in the side bar of my blog to get a list of all those posts.
Yes, Michigan, there is a summer.
Finally! So on a glorious Sunday in June, I decided to take a drive.
Now before your mind conjures up a stereotypical picture of a little
old lady librarian out for a pokey, rubbernecking Sunday drive, let
me just say that this was no ordinary Sunday drive. This was a drive
on a gorgeous, sunny Michigan day. This was a drive unmatched for
scenic beauty. This was a drive along the picturesque Michigan
Highway 22. This famed stretch of roadway meanders along the northern
Lake Michigan coastline through the Sleeping Bear Dunes area,
recently voted the Most Beautiful Place in America. If you're new to
my blog, you may want to read my earlier posts about this spectacular
part of the country and some of its bookstores.
I took the opportunity to stop at one
of the scenic overlooks along the route to oooh and ahhh and take a
few pictures. In addition to the unparalleled beauty to be seen along M-22,
Sunday drivers will also encounter several charming, small tourist
towns. One such town is Frankfort, just south of Sleeping Bear. This
lovely town is practically surrounded by lakes, situated on the
shores of Lake Michigan to the west, Betsie Lake to the south, and
just a few miles away from the Caribbean blue waters of Crystal Lake
to the north and east. You may have guessed by now that on this day,
there was more to my Sunday drive than just scenery, and you would be
right. Frankfort is home to an endearing little bookstore called
simply the Bookstore.
Last fall I enjoyed a visit to this wonderfully creative bookstore/imagination place. If you didn't see my post about it, you owe it to yourself to check it out, (click here) especially if you are ever near the town of Pentwater. Storybook Village is back in full operation for the summer, and according to Barbara Sims, there are even more activities than ever. Since my visit, she says that people have been discovering the special activities in Starlight Theatre: classroom visits, birthday parties, baby showers, and even a tea party for the Council on the Aging in Oceana County! The store has even partnered with Michigan Great Start to be the host for Family Play Groups every Thursday morning throughout the school year, for children birth to five, so these families can enjoy some special time with their children and learn some great ways to engage them in story and creative play.
Here are some ongoing daily activities and upcoming special events:
Ongoing Activities this Summer:
-Open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
-Special Puppet/Story Time and Clay Craft activities for children three times a day. Children become the stars of the puppet shows, and they make a clay craft afterward which can be baked at home for more storytelling adventures! The shows are: Monday through Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
-Older children, 7 and up, will enjoy the “Imagination & Improv” Workshop Theatre with Lori Cargill, on Tuesday and Friday from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., June 24 through August 29. In this wonderful workshop, children will utilize props to develop new theatre and perform their masterpiece for friends and family in Starlight Theatre!
-Pilates Class – every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Upcoming Special Artist and Author Visits:
-June 27, 3-5 p.m.: A Visit/Book signing from Kevin Kammeraad and the Cooperfly Puppet Troupe
-July 3, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: A Visit/Book signing from Carl Sams and Jean Stoick, authors of Stranger in the Woods. They will be presenting their newest book: I am Africa and will be talking about their exciting journey to Africa where they took over 40,000 photos for the book.
-July 11, 3 p.m.-6 p.m.: Gisbert von Frankenheusen and Robbyn Smith, authors of the Michigan Legend Books, will be on hand to sign books and give children drawing lessons.
438 E. Edgewood Blvd.
Lansing, MI 48911
Thursday, June 5, 2014, the night
before the theatrical release of The Fault In Our Stars. As you know
by now, I have been eagerly anticipating this event. (See previous post.) I was on my way to my son's place in Lansing. As a birthday
gift for me, we were driving to one of the select theaters in the
country hosting "The Night Before Our Stars," a pre-release
of the film followed by a live-stream event featuring author, John
Green, as well as the movie's director, producer, and three of its
stars. An early viewing of the movie adaptation of a book I love plus
a live feed of key people from the movie and an evening with my
wonderful son--it doesn't get any better than that. Oh wait! It did
actually get better than that. What could make it even better? If you
guessed something to do with a bookstore, you would be correct. Allow
me to explain.
You now have less than two weeks to read John Green's The Fault In Our Stars before the movie comes out. I know. I know. I have already posted more than once about this book and its talented author. But believe me when I tell you that this is a thing. A movement. A phenomenon. You should not miss this. But you don't have to just take my word for it. Last week the Wall Street Journal devoted two full pages to John Green. Two full pages! There's even a TFIOS (pronounced tif-ee-ohs) t-shirt for crying out loud.
Don't be put off by the fact that it is designated as a young adult read. I'm an old adult, and I absolutely loved it.
About a year ago, I posted a story about the Book House in the St. Louis area. Inhabiting a charming old Victorian house, this popular bookstore was in danger of being torn down to make way for an industrial storage facility, of all things. (See earlier post.) Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that even with a petition drive to save the store, it was indeed torn down. The good news is that the store has found a new space and reopened this past winter. Judging by all the activity on the store website (www.bookhousestl.com), the Book House is alive and well.
The new Book House location
Yes, the original Victorian house from which the store took its name is no more, but happily the store itself survives. That's saying something.
The Book House is still on my list of stores to one day visit. It's resilience alone makes it appealing.
Bulletin board in children's area, Reed City Public Library
After the winter we endured in Michigan
this year, 50 degrees felt positively balmy. Not so warm as last
year, but then again not so wet either. Looking out the window from
indoors, the sunny blue skies this 23rd of April suggested that
spring might actually have arrived in Michigan. It was a perfect day
to give away books.
My World Book Night adventure this year
took me to the small, rural Michigan town of Reed City. Why Reed City
you might ask? Well, this charming town just happens to be the site
of Chris's Country Dollar, a variety store owned by my brother Dave
who agreed to let me use his establishment as a base of operations
for my book giving. My brother is a gregarious sort with a
sympathetic ear and the uncanny ability to carry on a conversation on
almost any topic, so it is not unusual for patrons to stop and chew
the fat as well as shop. What better place to seek out light and
reluctant readers on which to bestow free reading material.
"What do you do when you're an architect whose father owns 16,000 books? You build him a house-library and move in permanently."
I just had to share this quote from a Flavorwire article and photo gallery featuring homes designed for book lovers. If you're like me, you'll be drooling over these pictures of bookshelves embedded into the floor, built into a staircase, filling walls, and more.
Am I jealous? Well, much of my book storage is made up of piles on tabletops, on the floor, on the window ledge, on my nightstand--so, yes, of course I am envious seeing these beautiful spaces. At the same time I am also happy to know that there exist others who are perhaps as book nerdy as I am or more so. Hmmm, I'm getting some ideas!
Take a look at the rest of these unique and beautiful homes on the Flavorwire website here:
I have mentioned on more than one
occasion that I have nothing against big chain bookstores. I shop at
Barnes and Noble from time to time. I even have a Barnes and Noble
membership card. Come on. A bookstore is a bookstore after all. But I
have a special place in my heart for independent bookstores. With
something of a hurried imperative, I began this blog nearly three
years ago, thinking that my time might be limited. As electronic
media became more and more popular, surely the independent bookstore
would be an endangered species. Happily, I was wrong. As with any
business, there are some that flounder and fade away. But I was
pleased to find a reality of numerous bookstores, small and large,
adapting and thriving. As a matter of fact I recently paid a visit to
a successful independent bookstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, not
more than a mile from a sizable Barnes and Noble store. Apparently
they can coexist, and in close proximity no less.
The World Book Night organizers have chosen an honorary chairperson for this year's event. And the choice is--drum roll, please--comedian and actress Amy Poehler. Read the story here.
I am excitedly looking forward to April 23, when I will be giving away 20 copies of CodeName Verity by Elizabeth Wein up north in the small town of Reed City, Michigan. Thanks to my brother Dave for the use of his store, Chris's Country Dollar, as a home base. Dave also put me in touch with the local public library in Reed City, and they have agreed to help publicize the event. Can't wait.
Okay library lovers, I thought I would share an old favorite with you. This is one of the best library promotional videos I have ever seen. It came out a while back and is a parody of an Old Spice commercial. Here's the commercial in case you haven't seen it or need to refresh your memory:
One of the most gratifying side effects
of writing this blog is that readers, friends, and former colleagues
will from time to time suggest bookstores that may be of interest to
me. It is an inspiration to know how many people think of me when
they learn of interesting bookstores. While in Paris, Donna, a
friend and former colleague, snapped a picture of a French bookstore
for me. And recently Diane, another friend, thought of me when she
saw a fabulous sign outside a bookstore in South Carolina.
A Paris Bookshop
So many great bookstores, so little
time. What is left to do but create a bookstore bucket list. There
are a few establishments that I have had my eye on for a while now.
One such store is Ann Patchett's Parnassus in Nashville, brand new in
2011. Loving her books as I do, I am sure I would equally love her
bookstore. And Nashville is a drivable distance from Michigan, right? There are many other great stores in the US, all within relatively
easy reach, or at least not pie in the sky. My cousin Jane's suggestion, Changing Hands, in Tempe, AZ; Denver's Tattered Cover, recommended by my friend Susan; San Francisco's City Lights; and The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gapin Virginia each suggest a potential vacation highlight. And TypeBooks in Toronto is definitely doable.
Then there are some compelling
bookstores in foreign lands that I dream of visiting one day. El Ateneo in Buenos Aires has been on my list for over a year now.
Housed in a creatively repurposed classic opera house, it is
beautiful and intriguing. (See video below.) I am also called to visit Britain's Hay On Wye, an entire town of books, which my dear friend Rena brought to my
attention. And recently my friend Paula shared a Business Insider
article detailing 18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit At Least Once. Number 11 on this list is Shakespeare And Company, a Paris shop
that has been on my radar for a while, along with Number 8, the aforementioned
El Ateneo. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had already
visited two of the stores mentioned in this article. Number 11, Politics andProse, brings back delightful memories of a trip to Washington DC (see
earlier post), and thanks to the Ganem family, I enjoyed a visit to Number 2 on the list, the remarkable John K. King books right here in Michigan (see post).
Number 16 on the Business Insider list
is Prairie Lights in Iowa, of special interest to me as my husband
and I will be visiting Iowa in August for the annual Pyrotechnics
Guild International convention. You can be sure that I will make an
effort to visit Prairie Lights this summer.
Bucket list or impossible dream--who
can say. But I will continue to add to my list as I learn of
interesting and unique bookstores wherever they are. Thanks to all my
friends for the suggestions.
About the only positive thing that this
Michigan resident can find about the winter of 2014, the year of the
"Polar Vortex," is that the misery this year has been
shared by those in states with traditionally more temperate winter
climates. Schadenfreude? Okay, maybe just a little. There is
something comforting in shared pain, I confess. At any rate, I was
blessed to gain a respite from the cold this year, if only for four
days. Since my husband and I had spent a fair amount of our honeymoon
at Disney World, we felt it only fitting that we make a return visit
to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We were blessed with sun and warm
weather the entire time. What a treat it was to get a hint of sunburn
on our faces and even at one point to hear my husband complain that
he was hot. Leaving coats, boots, and single digit temperatures for
shorts and flip flops, I did indeed feel like I was visiting the
Happiest Place On Earth.
For a bibliomaniac like me, meeting a
fellow book lover is always a pleasure. But when that book lover is
also the owner of a bookstore chock full of book bargains, so much
the better. Recently on my way to visit my son in Lansing, I took a
brief detour to the adjacent small community of Holt, Michigan, where
I met Laura Spanburg, owner of The Bookshelf, and lover of bargains
as well as books. It was not hard for me to understand why Laura is
such a happy purveyor of great deals once I learned that she spent
seven years as a manager of Bargain Books in Holt. When that store
closed two years ago, Laura simply would not let the community be
without great deals on good books. She found an available building
that had formerly housed an art gallery and opened The Bookshelf.
This year promises to be a good one for seeing good books brought to life on the big screen. Fresh off last year's release of one of my favorites, The Book Thief, I am looking forward to what 2014 has in store. One title that's getting a lot of buzz is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I'm a fan of Reese Witherspoon, and with her as the main character, I have high hopes for the movie.
Here are a few more book titles to watch for in theaters this year:
Serena by Ron Rash stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn stars Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Reese Witherspoon is a producer on this one. The Giver by Lois Lowry stars Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. This is on my must-read list, so I guess I'd better get going on it. Unbroken by Laura Hillanbrand has been on my want-to-read list for some time now. I really enjoyed her book, Seabiscuit, and I was pleased with the movie adaptation. This one is directed by Angelina Jolie.
By far my most eagerly anticipated title to be released in movie form this year is John Green's The Fault In Our Stars. One of my favorite authors, Green has been very involved in the cinematic adaptation, so this should be wonderful. See trailer below, but remember,
READ THE BOOK FIRST. The book is always better than the movie.
What does a bookstore have in common
with a Radio Shack? Well, for most bookstores, practically nothing.
Now I have encountered many bookstores with cafés or coffee bars, I
frequent a bookstore featuring a wine bar, and I have even visited a bookstore with a puppet theater. But not until I stepped into Robbins
Book List in Greenville, Michigan, had I ever seen a bookstore paired
with a Radio Shack. That's right, this small-town bookstore has a
door connecting it to a Radio Shack, an interesting combination to
say the least. During the winter months it is often difficult for me
to travel far in my search for independent bookstores, so as you can
imagine, I was pleased to discover a promising shop not far from my
home in Lowell. Though it is not a Lake Michigan coastal tourist town
like so many I visit, Greenville happily boasts a bookstore. So on a
cold, but not so snowy day, I set out on the brief 20-minute drive to
check it out.
Let me just say right off the bat that
I love Blogger. As a person who gags at the thought of programming, I
appreciate the service that Blogger affords me. I can have a
relatively feature rich, professional looking blog without having to
become an html expert. And it's free. So thanks, Blogger! That said,
free things are not necessarily problem free things. For several
weeks last fall, my ability to edit the text boxes in the sidebar
simply disappeared. You may have noticed that I appeared to be
"currently reading" the same books endlessly. Now, unlike
those of you who can fly through a new title in a day or two, I'm the
first to admit that I am a painfully slow reader. I am not, however,
as slow as this editing snafu would seem to indicate. I simply was
unable to update the information on my blog until recently when
Blogger fixed the bug.
So I thought that now, while the
media-hyped "polar vortex" is upon us and wind chills are
intent on confining me to the indoors with a cup of hot coffee, a
cozy blanket, and my laptop--yes, now would be the ideal time to
mention a couple of memorable books that I enjoyed while the Blogger
editor was out of commission. Both were set during WWII, both had
pivotal, strong female characters, and both held me in suspense until
First, five stars go to Villa Triste by
Lucretia Grindle. A modern-day mystery is inextricably tied to the
daring exploits of members of the Italian resistance during WWII when
honored resistance fighters begin turning up murdered 60 years later.
The past and present are skillfully woven in an emotional roller
coaster with plenty of twists and turns. Who even knew there was an
Italian resistance? The French get all the usual attention in books
and films. I was riveted by the daring exploits of these brave
individuals who were surrounded by terror and death during the Nazi
occupation, unable to trust even their neighbors and friends.
Speaking of the French resistance, 5
stars also go to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I came across
this gem in the World Book Night list and loved it so much that I
selected it as my first choice for the title I would most like to
give away. The many twists, turns, and surprises in this book prevent
me from giving too much of the plot and spoiling it. In a nutshell,
two young British women from disparate backgrounds become best
friends when they are thrust together in service (secret service)
involving missions behind enemy lines in occupied France, circa 1943.
One is captured and held by the Germans, tortured, and
forced to write her story for her captors. Things are not always what
they seem, and I will simply say that the Nazis get more than they
bargained for. Plenty of surprises and plot twists in this one as
well. Yet underneath the spy thriller is also the touching story of
an unlikely friendship, one which paradoxically would not have
happened without the War.
If you are looking for an absorbing
read to curl up with during this cold and icy season, I highly
recommend both of these books.