the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘bookstores

believe it or not, the best gift you can give to a book lover is not more books.

the best gift you can give to a book lover is introducing them to a new bookstore! Seriously, September should be “share your favorite bookstore with a friend who has never been there” month.

On Saturday I went with a good friend to John King Books in Detroit. He’d never been there before, and I keep talking about the place.  I’ve written about this store a few times before, it’s famous in the area for being the largest used bookstore in Michigan.  It’s even got a cameo in Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines! Mr. King got his start once upon a time as a collector and appraiser of rare books. As the collection grew he needed more and more space. Finally, he bought a four story warehouse and filled it (and I do mean filled!) to the ceiling with books and related paraphernalia. Being down the road from Wayne State University, there is plenty of scholarly material, plus cases and cases of vinyl records, vintage children’s books, postcards, lithographs, and we even saw an antique typewriter.  Did I mention the miles and miles of books? The bookstore is just for regular retail books, his rare book room is by appointment only.

Visiting John King is an adventure, let me tell you! It’s not unlike being in the Cave of Wonders from the Disney version of Aladdin crossed with a Choose your Own Adventure story, you just want to explore, and explore and explore, because who knows what will be around the next corner? We had a blast going through the different floors and enjoying the hand drawn maps and signs. There are milk crates at the end of many aisles filled with more books. There are milk crates in the aisles to use as step stools.  The shelving is basic, the lighting is terrible, the building has no heat or AC. I finally found the bathroom.

I visit John King Books every few months, and unfortunately, their science fiction section was very picked over on this visit.  I was also on a strict budget this time, so stayed away from the new-ish stuff shelves and played the “how much can I get for $20?” game.  I got a few gems, a few weird ones, and other random stuff that jumped out at me!

not a bad haul:

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A quick break in Hugo nom’d reviews for this short commercial break. Warning: this post includes way too many pictures. it might take a while to load, but there’s good stuff at the bottom for you.

Not sure if I mentioned it, but I’m in California for work for most of July.  For those of you keeping score, I’m an hour south of Sacramento. low humidity? it never rains? This mid-west girl is in heaven!  We’re setting up new locations and training new associates, and i have never worked so hard in my entire life.

What did I do my first free weekend? Go to San Francisco, of course! A very good friend from high school lives here now, so he gave me the tour.  First stop, lunch at a Ramen shop in San Mateo, where residential rents are easily more than I make in a month. I am obsessed with Ramen, and this was the most amazing bowl of Ramen I’ve ever had in my entire life.

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Can’t you just smell that divine porky broth? Miso Ramen is heaven in a bowl.

Next stop, THE BEACH!  I’d never been in the Pacific Ocean before. . .

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About 10 minutes after this photo was taken, fog began rolling in. . . .

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Hubby and I spent the weekend away and had a delightfully nerdy and book-wonderful weekend.

Saturday was a board gaming party, where much Vegas Casino building, nun chasing, alien blasting and monster slashing fun was had by all. Also pies. I never realized there was such a thing as too much pie.

Sunday we found ourselves on the outskirts of Michigan State University. Had someone told me the MSU campus was that lovely, I’d have ended up there instead of my alma mater. so many brick buildings! We went to Curious Books, where I picked up a Steven Brust, some Cordwainer Smith, some Neal Asher, a Peter Watts, and a few other goodies. Great bookstore. if you are in Lansing, hit up Curious Books. Nicely organized store, friendly and helpful staff, and half the basement was old scifi magazines and anthologies, how sweet is that?  North edge of campus, down the street from the super awesome bubble tea place and the very strange looking art museum, you can’t miss it.

After Curious, we hit up Schuler’s books and music. not much of a scifi section, and very much with the vibe of a chain bookstore, this isn’t my usual hangout.  Ahhh, but this afternoon at Schuler’s was so very different.  they bring in plenty of authors, but the woman they brought in this past Sunday, is someone very special and dear to my heart. Her books have held my heart in their pages, have caressed my face with their imagery, and they usually make me cry at the end. tears of agony, tears of happiness, tears of beauty, sometimes all at the same time. She’s an amazing author, and a friendly, funny, snarky, darkly brilliant person.

here’s a hint:

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I love going to bookstores I’ve never been to before.  With just an address and a not-to-scale badly hand-drawn map, I might get a little lost on the way. I might drive around the shopping plaza a few times until I find the place. I might park a smidgen illegally. I might show up 20 minutes before they are going to close. I might spend $5, I might spend $50.

Exploring a bookstore is an adventure unto itself.  do they have a store cat? do they have a decent science fiction section? do they have fair prices for used books? do they have any chairs to sit on while reading the first few pages of a book? is the staff knowledgeable? Is the staff friendly?  and most importantly, would I go back?

First up, was The Remarkable Book Shop, in Merrillville Indiana.  The on-hand stock is all used, but they will order you anything you want. A rather small, narrow space, this seemed to be the busiest shop in a rather unremarkable shopping plaza. At no time was there less than 3-4 customers in the store, and as it was quite small, that was a lot of people.  I had a very nice chat with the owner about independent bookstores on the Lake Michigan lakeshore, and although he knew every single one and all their owners, I was impressed with myself that I knew the stores that were in some of the touristy towns I’d visited.   I picked up a paperback copy of The Paths of the Dead, by Steven Brust.  Would I go back?  Tough to say. The owner was very friendly and nice to talk to, but his selection in the genres I read was just so-so more due to lack of space than anything else. I think next time I’m in the area I’ll call ahead to see what titles he has of authors I’m interested in.

Next up was Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor Michigan.  Located in an affluent area, and with an uptick in business since the closing of Ann Arbor’s landmark Borders Books, Nicola’s is a large, beautiful, family friendly bookstore.   I’d gone there to see Sarah Zettel talk about her new book, Dust Girl (which I did buy), and ended up spending another half hour or so chatting some bookstore staff and some college aged customers.  Nicola’s sells only new books, and they have a stationary and gift section as well. There was a small social area in front for book clubs, and a larger area in back with a microphone and podium for speakers and authors and such. Nicola’s seemed to have a section for nearly every genre, which means they didn’t have that many titles in each genre. Their scifi/fantasy section was depressingly small, and the employee that I spoke with said they’d gotten more demand for scifi and fantasy since Borders had closed, so they were looking to expand that area. Nicola’s is a perfect suburban high-end bookstore. You walk in, and someone greets you and asks if they can help you find anything, the entire store is decorated with bookish things, they have a newsletter, a frequent buyer card, events for all different age groups, all sorts of modern conveniences. But alas, no used books that be purchased on the cheap and not much Scifi.  Will I go back? Yes, if only to nag them about expanding their scifi/fantasy section, and they seem to get a lot of midwestern authors in to do booksignings.

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I haven’t done a Friday Fun post in what feels  like ages, so I know, let’s do one!

I’ve got a “to be read” pile that’s nearly reaching the ceiling, I finished Lavie Tidhar’s Osama last night and haven’t even started a review yet, am torn between three books I want to start and I’ve got two other books on hold at the library.  Yup, definitely time for a Friday Fun / random stuff / link soup post.

speaking of reading piles, what are you reading right now, and what have you got on deck?

Are you looking forward to the Prometheus Alien movie? Think it will rock? Worried you’ll be walking out of the theatre saying “Way to wreck the franchise, Bakula”?  see the trailer here.

Wanna win some sweet military history stuff from Osprey Publishing? Military history caption contests are the best!!

If you ask me, this is what heaven looks like. (yes, yes, I know, I stole this link from Dark Cargo, but she always posts all the cool stuff first)

Seems like everyone who is anyone is reading Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon. I’m getting my copy tomorrow. I’m usually turned off by anything that gets hyped or over-hyped, but not this time. Maybe it’s because I’ve met Ahmed and he’s one of the nicest, most modest guys around (not to mention insanely well read, intelligent and a fellow Michigander). But anyways, what are your thoughts on titles that are hyped / overhyped? First titles that come to my mind are Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Are books that are superhyped bound to be disappointing to us book snobs? or am I just an epic book snob?

I’m a cavewoman and just discovered pod casting.  what reasonably priced ipod/mp3 player should I buy for use on long work commutes? I’m also thinking 40 minute yoga sessions will be much less boring if I’m listening to some sweet audio.

and randomly speaking of fun Michigan stuff, I’ll be at the Marmalade Dog gaming con next weekend.  Hoping to run at least one game of Ticket to Ride:Europe on Saturday morning, possibly Game of Thrones as well, while secretly hoping to get in on a game or two of Small World or Railways.  are you a board gamer geek? what are your faves?


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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