The Bookman’s Holiday
The first leg of my winter odyssey south and west takes me only as far as Kalamazoo, where many family members and friends make their homes. One friend brought supper for me my first night in the ‘zoo, and in the morning when I picked my son up for breakfast, we went instead to – surprise! – a bookstore. “Do you mind?” I asked him. He looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would I mind going to a bookstore with my mother?” Okay, it was a stupid question.
This is a bookstore is the name of the bookstore where we found ourselves. That really is its name. It’s partnered up with the next door Book Bug, specializing in children’s books, and they share café space.
When I visit any bookshop for the first time, I pretty much know right away if it’s going to be a memorable experience or just another ho-hum Hallmark moment. And the minute I got inside this is a bookstore I was excited. Who wouldn’t be? I should say, what booklover and bookstore lover wouldn’t be excited by such a place?
1) I love their counter!
|Is this cool, or what?|
“What if someone wants to buy one of those books?” I wicked-innocently asked a clerk behind the counter, pointing to the real books holding it up. He said those books were not for sale but that a “reasonable facsimile” could be provided.
Here are some of other aspects of the shop I found to love:
2) The books are attractively displayed, categories easily identifiable, and there is an unspoken, silent invitation to venture quickly into the far reaches of the store.
3) A few used books, clearly marked as such, are mixed in among the new, and once I realized that I started seeking out the yellow tape on their spines, treasure-hunting.
4) The café invites lingering, in much the way that the bookshelves invite browsing. If I still lived in the ‘zoo, I would be a regular. I can’t give the bagels high marks (my advice is to skip the bagel and go straight for a brownie), but the coffee was excellent.
|Nectar of the gods!|
5) I overheard a couple of conversations, and the talk was interesting. That to me is another mark of a high-quality bookstore. And of course, at our table, my son and I were having interesting conversation.(Can you doubt it?) Our talk was of writing, as it often is when we get together.
6) Even the restroom was cool!
|Doesn't everybody read in the bathroom?|
Whenever I find myself in a really good bookstore for the first time, it takes a while for my initial giddiness to subside. Quickly I found a used book and bought it -- right away! -- but only after latte and conversation with my son could I could remember the name of a new book I wanted. Yes, they had it. Good! I bought that, too.
And okay, I’ll confess, with nary an apology to Jeff Deutsch, author of In Praise of Good Bookstores, that I also bought a couple pair of socks, because far be it from me to criticize a bookstore looking to enhance its slim profit margin by selling puzzles, socks, and other sidelines, as long as they are also stocking excellent books! If socks keep bookstores in business, I’m all for socks (particularly cute ones). And I am definitely not one of those people who loudly proclaims "love" of bookstores and leaves empty-handed!
|My haul --|
Holiday for Dogs
Sunny, having no choice in the matter, waited patiently in the car while her bookseller dog mom indulged a human love of literature. I told her that her turn would come in the afternoon. Did she believe me? Did she have any idea at all what I was saying?
|I think she had doubts.|
Our grandson and his wife have a 20-acre piece of property north of Kalamazoo, and grandson’s wife, her mother, and I, each bringing a dog, met there to walk trails in the woods. Motivated by a deep and abiding tick phobia, I wore a stupid-looking hat with a big, floppy brim and tucked the legs of my jeans into my socks. (You wouldn't want to see that image.) The dogs had no such worries. A malamute, an Aussie, and a Boston terrier walked into a bar – I mean, ran into the woods. Sunny’s leaps across the creek, a charming little creek with a sandy bottom, delightful turns, here and there a miniature waterfall, were stunning! If dogs ran steeplechase, she could!
|The lovely little creek!|
There is always so much to see in the woods, and every woods is different. This one had beautiful beech trees, one of the trees I love back in Leelanau County, but also different species, such as shagbark hickory, and I was told the mushrooms, both spring and fall, are plentiful and various. The fungi I saw may not have been edible (I don't know), but they were eye-catching.
The dogs’ holiday in the woods, honestly, was as much a holiday for me as was the bookstore visit. The sun was shining! And tomorrow, at last, Election Day will be behind us, as is (finally) Halloween! I will be happy to see the landscape naked again, its human dressing of skeletons and political signs gone for another season.
How are you spending these fabulous, sunny, still unseasonably warm fall days? They are like windfall apples, aren’t they? Or merchants’ lagniappe. Unexpected, extra, delightful, unearned and perhaps undeserved gifts….
|Dogs having fun!|