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, December 19, 2019

Get Real


The Groove Record Shop
8747 Ferry Street
Montague, MI 49437
231-893-5058

What do Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, Elton John, and Elvis have in common? They can all be found at The Groove Record Shop—on vinyl that is. I recently had the pleasure of visiting this treasure trove of music in Montague, Michigan. Now I know what you are probably thinking. What in the world does a record shop have to do with bookstores? There is a connection. I promise. I will get to that in good time. But first, let me tell you a little bit about this fun shop.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Coming Soon!

What's almost as great as a new bookstore? A new library, of course. Lucky me, a brand new library is currently under construction in the small town of Ada, Michigan, just a few miles from my home and right across the street from where my husband works.

The Van Andel Library and Community Center will house a full-service library as well as a variety of multi-purpose spaces such as small study rooms, conference rooms, and meeting rooms. The space is scheduled to be completed in late 2020 and should provide a hub for community activity for the Ada Village area. I will certainly visit and write about it once it is open.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Boat


A while back I wrote about my Little Free Beach Library. It's gratifying to see my lake neighbors stop by to find a book during a walk around our small lake. However, this year, as with many lakes in Michigan, a high water level left us with very little beach, making walks along the shore problematic for any but my closest neighbors. Every now and then, though, an undaunted reader could be seen traveling by kayak to get a book. What could be better than paddling across the water to secure a great read? How about a floating library that brings the books to you! In Sweden a library boat, or Bokbåten, does just that, bringing thousands of books via waterway to dozens of islands. For the full story, check out this article from Mother Nature Network: Bokbåten.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Old and New


Bound For Books
7570 E. 34 Road, Suite A
Cadillac, MI 49601
231-444-6462

Thought by many to be near extinction not too long ago, bookstores have proven to be quite the opposite. In the current online shopping era when malls are struggling to stay afloat, and brick-and-mortar businesses are dropping like flies, new bookstores are springing up with frequency. Since beginning this blog, I have had the pleasure of visiting several brand new stores. I have equally enjoyed discovering an abundant variety of long-established stores. But discovering an old store and a new one on the same day! That's twice the fun. Yes, last month when I was visiting an oldie, but goodie, in Cadillac, one of my favorite northern Michigan towns, I fell into conversation with a couple of patrons who told me they had heard about a new store nearby. Of course I had to make the short drive to check out Bound For Books.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Books, Books, Books


The Book Nook
120 E. Pine Street
Cadillac, MI
231-775-8171


Book people are the greatest! When I wear a bookstore shirt, I seem to attract them. They know I'm a compatriot from the nation of readers; I'm wearing a team shirt of sorts. Not long ago, while grocery shopping at a small supermarket near our cottage, I encountered a fellow bibliomaniac in the parking lot of all places. I was wearing an old shirt from Curious Books, and this gentleman recognized it. “Hey, I know that bookstore,” he said as I was about to load my groceries into the car. “It's in East Lansing, right?” Thus began a fruitful conversation about bookstores. “If you like huge used bookstores, there's a great one in Cadillac,” he suggested. Wow, I've been to that town many times. How did I not know about this? Of course, I made it my business to find out more, and a week or so later took an opportunity to visit The Book Nook.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Bookstore In the Clouds

Duoyun Bookstore
Shanghai Tower
Shanghai, China

My husband is just back from two weeks in Asia on a business trip. Other than me, two of the things he misses most while he is away are the Sunday Comics in the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. He does come across some interesting tidbits in the Asian papers, however, and this time he brought home a bookstore article from China Daily that he thought I would like.

Wow! Talk about a store to add to my bucket list! Just opened in Shanghai is a bookstore on the 52nd floor of Shanghai Tower featuring 2,200 square meters of floor space and 60,000 books, 3,500 in languages other than Chinese. The highest bookstore in the world complete with a viewing platform overlooking the Lujiazui and Huangpu Rivers, it is a tourist attraction as well as a heavenly place for booklovers.

Here's a link to the article: World's Highest Bookstore.
And try this link for more photos: Duoyun Pics.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Off the Beaten Path


Luther Area
Public Library
115 State Street
Luther, MI 49656
231-797-8006

Remote, out of the way, in the middle of nowhere, off the beaten path—these expressions often invoke a negative, even derogatory connotation. But there's something to be said for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. I've enjoyed some memorable experiences that I would have missed if I were reluctant to detour from well-traveled roads. My trip to Deep Wood Press in northern Michigan springs to mind (Link to that post here). So this past summer when I received a tip that would require a minor diversion from the highway, it was a no-brainer. I had to stray off the main road just slightly for a visit to the Luther Area Public Library.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Book Nook Too


Book Nook Too
307 #E W Western Ave.
Muskegon, Michigan
231-736-5545

Do you love strolling from booth to booth at a craft fair? Do you enjoy the sights and scents of fresh produce stalls at a great farmers market? How about perusing the varied works at an outdoor art festival? Combine those concepts into a single location, add a beach, and you have the Western Market in Muskegon, Michigan. Throw in a bookstore, and you're talking my language. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably already know that one of my favorite bookstores is The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague. And now that store has a satellite shop located in the Western Market. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Book Nook Too.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Food For Thought


Blue Vase
Book Exchange
2048 M-137
Interlochen, MI 49643
231-276-3338

“Food for thought!” How many times have you heard that old saying? To my mind nothing provides more food for thought than a good book. It naturally follows, then, that books are food for the mind. Some are snacks, some are appetizers, and some are complete banquets. When it comes to this food, I never want to go on a diet. I have piles and shelves of this brain food waiting for consumption. So I guess an old grocery store is a particularly appropriate place for a bookstore. That's right, an old supermarket has been turned into a bookstore, and I recently had the pleasure of visiting Blue Vase Book Exchange.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Historic Landmark


Landmark Books
800 Cottageview Drive
Suite 45
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-922-7225


It just doesn't get much better than a trip to a charming library in a beautiful northern Michigan town; that is, of course, unless you discover an interesting bookstore in a very unique location—on the same day. In my last post, I wrote about the lovely Elk Rapids district library, and as luck would have it, I left that quaint library with enough time in the day for a stop in nearby Traverse City. I have blogged about bookstores in this town in the past (see Brilliant and Horizon), but I had recently learned of yet another shop in a fascinating historic setting, the former Traverse City State Hospital. Of course I had to visit Landmark Books.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Break In the Weather


Elk Rapids
District Library
300 Isle of Pines
Elk Rapids, MI 49629
231-264-9979

Cloudy, cool, and wet!!! That pretty much sums up May in Michigan this year, and until just this week, it looked like June was going to continue the trend. The lake level at the cottage has risen so much in the past few weeks that part of our dock is now under water, and as far as the temperature goes, May seemed to think it was April, and June was following the trend. At a time when I should have been breaking out the shorts and sandals, I was still turning on the heat in the cottage and wearing my flannel jammies to bed. Don't get me wrong. I love being at the cottage no matter what the weather, but with a steady string of bleak days, my mood was in danger of turning bleak as well. I needed a pick-me-up, and I had the ideal thing in mind. About six months ago, I learned about a great library in northern Michigan and had promised myself that I'd visit it once the cottage season began. Early June turned out to be the perfect time for a trip to the Elk Rapids District Library.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Final Chapter?


Epilogue Books
10 East Bridge Street
Rockford, MI 49341

As you know, I am a retired high school librarian. But I didn't start that career until I was almost 50 years old. I had a variety of careers before that: I worked in office automation support when word processing was in its infancy. I taught English and Interpersonal Communications at a small business college. Later I worked for a major data processing company. It wasn't until 2001 that I began the best career I ever had in a small high school library, a wonderful epilogue to a varied work life. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a couple embarking on an epilogue career of their own. Last July Pat and Valerie Burkholder opened a bookstore in Rockford, Michigan, less than half an hour from my house. The name of their new shop? Epilogue Books, of course.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bigger And Better


Glen Lake Community Library
10115 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630

If you've been following my blog for very long, you may have already reached the obvious conclusion that I am having a love affair, yes, a love affair with the Great Lakes State, the Water Wonderland, the Mitten State—my Michigan, the beautiful state I call home. One of the things I love most about Michigan is the abundance of magnificent coastline. And one of the things I make a point to do each summer is take a drive north along scenic M-22 on the Lake Michigan shoreline. This year I didn't have to wait until summer. On the first Saturday in May, an opportunity to take that spectacular drive presented itself when the small community of Empire celebrated a ground breaking for the Glen Lake Community Library expansion.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Celebrating Indy Bookstores


Celebrate books, bookstores, and the joy of reading? I do that pretty much every day. I am so thankful that brick-and-mortar bookstores have not become obsolete as many predicted they would. To the contrary, I have found that bookstores are often the heart and soul of a community. They are about more than just books. They are about the people, fellow avid readers who can discuss books and also offer suggestions for that one book that may be your next great read.

Sometimes bookstores provide quiet, comfortable places to sit with a cup of coffee and peruse a new potential favorite title. Sometimes bookstores provide performance spaces where visitors can listen to a poetry reading, hear an author speak, or enjoy some music. And sometimes bookstores are about celebration. Once a year on the last Saturday in April, bookstores across the country celebrate books, bookstores, and the joy of reading on Independent Bookstore Day. This year I was not about to be left out of the celebration.

Monday, April 22, 2019

On the Road With Books


Imagine life before the Internet. If you're as old as I am, that's easy because, like me, you grew up without it. Sometimes it's hard for me to think of how I ever got along without IMDB. But we managed. We also lived without social media, cable television, and cell phones. When I wanted to make a phone call, I walked out to the kitchen to a shoebox-sized device hanging on the wall and dialed the number, assuming, of course, that there was nobody else using the party line at the time.

Yes, I grew up in a simpler time. As a youngster in the late Fifties, I had the unique experience of attending first and second grade in a one-room school house. If you're thinking “Little House on the Prairie,” you're not far off. We even had one of those little hand bells that the teacher would ring to signal time for school to start. This school was probably a rare breed back then. It closed a couple of years after I had completed second grade and moved on to a larger school. But I have many fond memories of that educational experience. One special memory is of the bookmobile, the traveling library that made regular visits to our little schoolhouse. Yes, it was a simpler time. We didn't have ebooks, and we couldn't often make it to the library, but the library came to us.

Today bookmobiles are alive and well. There is actually a designated National Bookmobile Day on the Wednesday of National Library Week. Hundreds of these mobile libraries serve communities all over the country. And bookmobiles aren't just for rural areas. New York City recently announced that it will operate three new bookmobiles in the metropolitan area.

These traveling book repositories are as various as the brick and mortar libraries from which they originate. Some are sleek and colorful like the one pictured above from Marshall County in Kentucky. Others are quirky and charming like the one Antonio LaCava created in Italy.

 


Some mobile libraries don't even have wheels. Luis Soriano Bohorquez in Colombia created Biblioburro—The Donkey Library. He loads over 100 books onto the back of a donkey and spends hours traveling to meet with his young patrons.


Hats off to all the wonderful mobile librarians and bookmobiles of all types!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

National Library Week


Grand Rapids
Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
616-988-5400

It's National Library Week! I love and admire libraries all year long, but it's wonderful that a full week has been designated to give special appreciation to these storehouses of knowledge and imagination. Libraries are an integral part of our society. I have several special libraries on my want-to-see bucket list. And I have seen some pretty spectacular ones already. I visited a stunning library born from a vintage school. I discovered a remarkable library inhabiting an old train station. I was awed by a spectacular library in Hong Kong. And I enjoyed a memorable trip to the librarians' library, the Library of Congress. This is but a small sample of the institutions I have visited and appreciated.

Thankfully I am not alone in my admiration for these institutions of information. Here are just a few inspirational quotes from other library lovers:

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”
Albert Einstein
“A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life.”
Norman Cousins
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”
Andrew Carnegie
“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination.”
Sidney Sheldon
A library “. . . is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you—and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”
Isaac Asimov

No better time than this week to write about a recent visit I paid to a great library not far from my home, the Grand Rapids Public Library.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

March Is Reading Month!

My Reading Bucket List

So many books . . . Yes, indeed. About 130 million unique titles according to a simple query of Wolfram Alpha. That means that even if I could conceivably read a book a day, it would take me over 350 years to read them all, and that wouldn't include the new ones written during that interminable time span of reading. Needless to say, the phrase “so many books, so little time” is not hyperbole. For this lover of books, “so many” is not a frustration so much as it is a justification for the many to-read lists, shelves, and piles of books I claim.

Since March is “Reading Month,” what better time to reflect on my reading habits and goals. Organizing my books is always a goal, but providing some sense of organization to my reading is important as well. I have been aided in that regard by a lovely Christmas gift I received from my son and daughter-in-law, the “100 Books Scratch-Off Bucket List.” Seeing this as a challenge, I have posted the List on the back of the door to the spare room I use as an office. I set about scratching off all the titles that I have already completed and was more than a little disheartened at my total of only 27. I am motivated, nonetheless, to scratch off significantly more.

If you're the sort who likes this type of challenge, there are numerous reading lists out there: 50 Books To Read Before You Die printed on a popular bookmark and the BBC's Top 100 Books You Need To Read Before You Die are just a couple great lists. Do your own Google search on “books to read before I die” to turn up an array of such lists. If you're on Goodreads, look for their Popular 100 Books to Read Before You Die shelf. (If you're not on Goodreads, I highly endorse it.) With so many books out there, it helps to have some recommendations.

This March Reading Month, my suggestion is that you organize your “so little time” in whatever way helps you best enjoy reading. That is the point, after all. And now, I think I'll get started on a title I've always wanted to read, A Tale of Two Cities. Happy reading!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Leaving Snow Behind


The Book Exchange
2029 McCulloch Blvd.
Lake Havasu City, AZ
928-453-4043

In January I mentioned that the state of Michigan was closed. Well, who would have thought that it could get worse? But it did! After surviving the Polar Vortex, we were hit with ice. Ice on the roads, ice on the driveway, ice on the sidewalks, and most problematic—ice on the trees. This led to broken tree limbs and in some cases entire trees down. Of course that meant power outages. We were more fortunate than some. Ours was only out for 3 days. In the span of a few weeks, we experienced everything winter has to offer in the way of consequential weather.

Needless to say, my husband and I were eagerly anticipating a trip to the warm desert of Arizona, a trip that we had planned months ago. But once we had power back, then came more snow and along with it the possibility that we might not be able to get out of Michigan. Nevertheless, on our scheduled date, with high hopes we headed to the airport early in the morning for our flight from Grand Rapids. To make a long, painful story short, after 22 hours and a series of plane de-icings, flight delays, missed connections, and flight changes, we finally arrived at our Arizona destination about 2 a.m. (That's 4 a.m. Michigan time.) And what should greet us on our first day in the desert? Rain!! That's right, rain in the desert. Go figure. In that case, what's a book lover to do but look for a bookstore. Luckily, I found one relatively close to our hotel, so when the rain lessened, off I went to visit The Book Exchange in Lake Havasu City.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Yet Another One for the Bucket List


Gladstone's Library
Church Lane
Hawarden
Flintshire

A few years ago I wrote about a bookstore in Scotland where patrons could actually stay and run the place for a week. Well, here's another one for my bucket list, a residential library. Yes, a library that is part hotel. Imagine relaxing, reading, studying, conversing and then spending the night in a great library. And not just any run-of-the-mill library. This is the historic Gladstone's Library, founded by none other than the Victorian British statesman, William Ewart Gladsone, beginning with 32,000 of his personal books. Not just a library, but a meeting place as well, Gladstone's is dedicated to dialogue, debate, and the pursuit of study and research.

Rooms are available for very reasonable rates and include a continental breakfast. A bistro called Food for Thought is open in the evenings. Sounds wonderful. I think I'm going to need a bigger bucket.

Here's a short video with an aerial view of the library.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

From the Frozen North


Books on Bay
224 West Bay Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
912-236-7115

The State of Michigan is closed! That's right. Schools are closed; roads are closed; businesses are closed; restaurants are closed; even the mall is closed. And the post office is not delivering the mail. The governor has declared a state of emergency, and the police have even cancelled crime. Adding insult to injury, last night our power company declared a gas supply emergency requesting that everyone set thermostats no higher than 65 degrees lest we run out of that commodity before the weather changes and the state can reopen.

On the plus side, we still have power. That makes this a perfect time to sit in my sweats with a warm blanket, a hot cup of coffee, and a computer on my lap, to reflect a little more about my time last fall in the warmth of Savannah, Georgia. In my last post I wrote about the city's oldest independent bookstore, E. Shaver. As luck would have it, after that delightful visit and a tasty lunch in the historic district, my husband and I still had a bit of time to look for another shop I had heard about, so off we went in search of Books on Bay.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Love At First Sight


E. Shaver, bookseller
326 Bull Street
Savannah, GA 31401
912-234-7257

This past November I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the lovely, historic city of Savannah, Georgia. I was there for a weekend with my husband and several other family members to attend a wedding. We celebrated young love, and I fell in love with Savannah. The town, planned by General James Oglethorpe, is laid out in a grid pattern consisting of 23 squares, each providing a tranquil, garden-like setting populated with stately trees, inviting benches, and historic statues. Today the city still enjoys 22 of Oglethorpe's original squares. A stone's throw from Madison Square resides the oldest independent bookstore in the city, E. Shaver, and since we were in town for the entire weekend, I had plenty of time to take it in.