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, February 25, 2016

Crazy in the Name of Love

Books and More
of Albion
119 N. Superior Street
Albion, MI

"If you've ever done something crazy in the name of love, R. J. Fox's adventures in Ukraine will strike a chord." So says author Davy Rothbart of the new book Love & Vodka. Well, earlier this month I did something a little crazy for love--the love of bookstores, books, and reading that is. On the coldest day of the season (8 degrees for a high), I set out on snowy roads for a two-hour drive to Albion, Michigan, to revisit Books and More of Albion, a store I blogged about a few years back, and to hear author R. J. Fox talk about Love & Vodka.

Albion holds a special place in my heart as it is home to Albion College. Some of my fondest memories are of visiting my son and attending college events together while he was a student there. Not only did he get a great education, but he also met a wonderful girl, now his wife. Rediscovering Books and More, meeting an author, and a chance to visit Albion College again? There were plenty of reasons prompting me to make the frigid drive.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This Is Not A Book Review

For the record let me clarify something. I don't write reviews. When I visit a new bookstore, it's for the sheer pleasure of discovery and love of books and all things related. I would consider what I do more along the lines of observing and reporting. And if you want to know the whole truth, I don't generally look forward to the writing itself. It's the bookstore experience that is the fun part. The writing is simply a necessary component.

I don't generally review books either. I read books. I recommend books to friends. I discuss books. But review books? Nah! Writing book reviews is not a skill I claim to possess. That said, every once in a while a book comes along that touches me in such a way that I feel compelled to share some feelings about it. One such book is A Man Called Ove, a first novel for Swedish author, Fredrik Backman.

Ove is a curmudgeon. Overly obsessed with rules, Overly annoying to his neighbors, Overly preoccupied with strict routines, Ove is one of the most engaging characters I have encountered. He mostly keeps to himself, and those around him like it that way. But things are about to change, and since I detest spoilers, that is all the plot you will get from me--except to say that there is a cat.

Ove is also a philosopher of sorts. Some very poignant thoughts come from his bitter, cranky brain. Like this one: ". . . all people at root are time optimists. We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like 'if'."

This book had me laughing out loud and crying within the space of a page. It had me reflecting on life, and it gave me a new appreciation for my husband's endearing quirks. This is not a review of A Man Called Ove so much as it is an enthusiastic recommendation. If you found Walt Kowalski inspirational and enjoyed the movie Gran Torino, you will love this book. Five Stars from this non-reviewer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Books By The Bag, Books By The Box

Unless you are at least as old as I am, chances are good that you are not familiar with the wit and wisdom of Sam Levenson. More's the pity. One of my prized possessions is his book, Everything But Money, in which he recalls with endearing humor and philosophy his upbringing by poor Jewish immigrants in the tenements of New York in the early 1900's:
"In those days people did not live as long as they do today, but things lived longer. In our house old things were not discarded but retired to a drawer in the kitchen which we called 'Mama's shame-to-throw-out drawer' . . . appropriately lined with old newspaper of which there was always a great abundance, since news, too, did not have to be new to be good. Mama saw no reason for buying new news when she had not yet used up the old." p. 26

This approach to print material can, of course, also be applied to books. Some of the most successful bookstores I have visited are purveyors of previously loved volumes. According to the handwriting on the inside cover, my copy of the Levenson book was given as a Christmas gift in 1966 from "Arlean" to "Brie." Thanks to my friend Gabe at Bay Leaf Books in Newaygo, it found its way to me. Since Levenson's books are now all out of print, finding used or library copies is the only way to read them.