Tag Archives: bookstore

used and unusual.


and who could possibly resist

looking deeper into

most anything deemed

‘used and unusual’?

both rich qualities

rife with stories and possibility

many of us could be described this very same way

after having lived a while

and comfortably settling into

what makes us who we really are. 


“it’s also not unusual for writers to look backward. because that’s your pool of resources.”

-paul mcCartney

why not do it?


Children at San Rufo elementary school in Salerno, southern Italy, are swapping plastic for books. A bookseller/cafe owner in southern Italy is offering free books to schoolchildren who bring him one plastic bottle and one aluminum can to recycle. Michele Gentile, who founded the Ex Libris Cafe bookshop in Polla, a small town near Salerno, said he wants to encourage kids to read while doing something for the environment.

“My goal is to spread the passion and love for books among those people in Italy who do not usually read, while at the time helping the environment,” he said. “I hope the initiative becomes so viral that it affects the whole country. It will be revolutionary, not only for the planet but also for the education of children and their job prospects,” he said.

The books being donated for the initiative are the so-called “pending” or “suspended” books (“libri sospesi” in Italian), a concept introduced by Gentile a few years ago that earned him headlines in national media. The term derives from the “suspended coffee” Neapolitan tradition, born during World War II, of purchasing two coffees: one for yourself and the second one as an anonymous gift for the next customer in need who walks into the bar. Similarly, Ex Libris customers can buy one book and leave the second one “suspended” for whomever needs it.

The idea for the “plastic/metal for books” recycling initiative came to Gentile while he was looking at a huge pile of metallic waste left abandoned on a field. “It was worth at least 300-400 euros ($338-$451), enough to pay for a middle school kid’s book allowance for a year,” he said. “So, I talked to a local school, and they organized an aluminum collection. Results were extraordinary, about 2 quintals ($564) in two days.” With the money he got from the recycling center, Gentile bought books for a whole class. “So, I thought: Why not (give) away books to kids who bring me plastic bottles and cans?” he said.

His initiative, which involves individuals and schools, has already reached northern Italy, with children from Bordighera, in the Liguria region, sending him 23 bottles and 23 cans to recycle. “Yesterday alone, I donated 60 suspended books,” Gentile said. “Imagine if this becomes a small game: Every child in the world swaps a plastic bottle and a can for books. I know it’s just a dream, but why not do it?

“it takes generosity to discover the whole through others.

If you realize you are only a violin,

you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.”

-jacques yves cousteau



credits: cnn world news, gianluca mezzofiore

john k. king.

john wanders through the stacks. 

by far, the most interesting bookstore i’ve ever spent time in

john k. king used & rare books

is a bookstore out of its time

located in detroit on 4 floors

of what used to be the advance glove company building

filled with over 1 million volumes

 completely uncomputerized collections

 organized into more than 900 categories

by a team of energetic and helpful staff members

each floor has a manager who is responsible

for knowledge and maintenance of the categories held there

upon entering you are handed a map and directory

 you are free to wander you way through the floors

until closing time.

john began collecting and selling books as a teenager

selling them out of the trunk of his car

and he continues to this day

on my recent visit to the store

staff members said he was in his car

headed to cincinnati to acquire a new collection

every time they sell a few books, he takes on more

he’s now purchased the old otis elevator building

behind the store to use as

 an annex for his art and rare book collections

this is a store and experience not to be missed.


“i thought i’d go to a bookstore and see what moved me.”

-erik larson





credits: john r. king books




The Historic Parisian Bookshop Where Aspiring Writers Can Spend the Night for Free

Shakespeare and Company opened its doors back in 1951, and ever since then, it’s hosted aspiring writers for free. And it’s not always just for a night, sometimes, guests stay for months, and they don’t have to pay a penny. The Parisian literary hub may be the only bookshop in the world of its kind.

More than 30,000 guests have stayed at the bookshop since American expat George Whitman opened it over six decades ago, and many of them have even gone on to become international best sellers.

Molly Dektar, who lived at Shakespeare and Company in January and June 2013, wrote about the experience: “I aimed to read a book a day but it wasn’t entirely possible. Still, the goal is spiritually important and should be taken seriously. One minute I was a visitor just like any other,” she added, “and the next minute I was welcomed in to this huge, historic community of writers and expatriates.”


Now, 65 years after the bookshop opened, the owner, Whitman’s daughter Sylvia, has released a memoir documenting its long history. Whitman was inspired by American expat Sylvia Beach, who owned a bookshop by the same name at another location, which existed between 1919 and 1941.

Beach’s bookshop had been a popular and frequent gathering place for legendary writers like Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and T S Eliot. She had also been the first to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922.

Whitman had called his version of the bookshop a “spiritual successor” and it quick became the center of expat life in Paris for the book writing crowd. As he’d been the recipient of the generosity of strangers while traveling the world, he decided that he wanted to do the same for other travelers. Since the start, his store has hosted overnight guests he refers to as “Tumbleweeds.” Instead of paying for their stay, the “Tumbleweeds” are just required to help out in the shop for a few hours, write a one-page autobiography for the archives and “read a book a day.” Quite the deal!

While Whitman passed away five years ago, his daughter Sylvia is continuing to carry on the tradition and runs the bookshop with her partner, David Delannet.

Today, as many as six Tumbleweeds can sleep in the bookshop each night, but it now also hosts an adjoining cafe, a literary festival and a publishing arm of Shakespeare and Company, which just released a book on the history of the company.

Of the book, Delannet said, “This history offers readers a unique perspective on Paris, as well as an insight into the life of the literary traveler in the second half of the 20th century and a feel for a bookshop whose motto is ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.'”

credits: earthables, molly dektar, buzzfeed


“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” ― Stephen King



literati – my favorite local independent book store.

their first book club night ever. 

that’s me, 3rd person on the left in a white sweater. so happy to be there.

so happy to support them.

they’ve made it. one full year.

and this is what they wrote about how happy they are.

One Year Anniversary Party!

March 28, 29, and 30th!
The end of March marks our One Year Anniversary! To celebrate, we’re throwing a party.
All. Weekend. Long.

All weekend will be treats, raffles, and fun. On Sunday, we’re donating 50% of proceeds to BINC, a locally-focused non-profit that supports booksellers across the country.

We are thrilled to be part of this community. It’s been a dream come true. We are proud to be Ann Arbor residents, to return to the area we were raised, and bring an independent bookstore that sells new books to the downtown area. One year down, and with your help, hopefully many more to come… 

This year. It’s really hard to articulate how much gratitude and thanks we have to this community. We recently read the dialogue in the NYTimes about how bookstores can survive. It was more a question — “Can they survive?” Certainly, opening a small independent bookstore is not the safest way to ensure a long, viable career. There are concerns and fears about rising downtown rents, online booksellers, e-readers… to name a few.

But this first year proves to me one thing: People want books. People want an event space. People want a downtown location to browse books, share ideas, attend author events, book clubs, story times, and a safe, welcoming place to surprise themselves. We’ve seen so many surprises this year: A marriage proposal on our typewriter. A Halloween literary-themed costume contest. A violin monster and a 7-year-old beginning a pen pal relationship. Friends who hadn’t seen each other in 20 years bumping into each other, wildly enthusiastic, hugging. World War II veterans talking to 20-somethings about their experiences. 
One year down. We are still here. We are still surviving. And it’s all because of you.

Sincerely, thank you. 
-Mike and Hilary and the rest of the Literati staff

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese Proverb


i have found my favorite bookstore, ‘literati,’ and feel happy each and every time i walk in there. it is independent, local, walkable, friendly,  and welcoming. when i open the door and step in, i feel like cliff in the old show ‘cheers,’ but without the bar or the beer or boston.  



winter comes to literati

 one of my favorite pastimes is to spend time with books, reading, browsing, picking them up to see the cover, the text, reading the notes, and just hanging out among them. after the demise of borders, (created by the local borders brothers), which was based here and included the original store, a local couple decided to open ‘literati.’ a giant had fallen. and in it’s place, three lovely bookshops have come to the forefront here. one has held on throughout the mega-giant bookstore era, and been around for years, with the others, more recently arriving on the scene. each is wonderful, but something about the feeling of ‘literati’ has immediately grabbed me. the owners of the three have embraced and welcomed each other, and rather than be rivals, they’ve become friends and partners in the community.


downstairs at literati

 in this, its first year, the store has supported and invited local authors to share their work, created nooks for reading, and spaces for browsing, provided a small staff that is well-read and friendly, a children’s story hour, a book club, a newsletter, took part in community charity events, and the place simply oozes with an amazing good feeling.

have an set up an old typewriter for people to leave notes and messages. here are a couple of them:

“To be in love gives you the ability to raise up the sky and see the whole world.” 

-Note left on our typewriter

“I am 7 months sober today. I’m finally learning how to forgive. Not only those who hurt me, but myself. I’m forgiving myself…”

-Note left on our typewriter

 a recent note from owners, mike and hillary, written in their newsletter to the community, shows a bit of who they are:

Happy New Year, everyone!

This past week, we’ve been feeling nostalgic. Since we signed the lease one year ago we’ve zoomed along with build-out, construction, opening, logistics, accounting, and the chaos of the holidays… Finally, we’ve had a chance to catch our breaths, pause, and reflect.

Thank you everyone who has bought a book from the store. You didn’t have to. You could have gone to Amazon, but you didn’t. You came to us.

A huge thank you to Jeremiah Chamberlin and this profile of our opening in the latest issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. Jeremiah witnessed the store long before anyone else did. He was there when we painted the floors, for our shipment of boxes, for all those anxiety-producing pre-opening weeks… and then he wrote about it. We thank Jeremiah for taking an interest in telling our story and doing such a wonderful job. 

Thank you all, again, for making our 2013 successful. It’s a scary time to open a bookstore. But everyone here made it much, much less scary. We have a lot of work to do. We are inspired by this year’s success, but there is a long road ahead.

Thank you again. -Mike, Hilary, and the rest of the Literati Book Ninjas. 

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.  ~Oscar Wilde


image credits and links:  http://literatibookstore.com