Tag Archives: Bookstore

Book Gem in Seattle, Washington For the Traveling Bibliophile

3 Aug

I described this vacation as ‘Books, beer, and hiking.’ I think I delivered on all three! I want to spend a post talking about the shops I visited, one in each city. My first stop was Seattle and I visited Elliot Bay Book Company. This amazing store was located only three blocks from my host’s house. He’d never heard of it! Gosh, darn Computer Engineers not reading! If you work for Amazon, you should know about the stores you’re eradicating, haha. I had him meet us there after work and it was hard not to be blown away by this place.

The front door was beautiful and things only got better as I went further inside. I quickly found the store’s “Summer Booknotes 2017” which had a ton of books I’ve seen positively reviewed on other blogs, notable authors with new releases, and recommendations from their employees, all sorted by genre. I also found the July calendar of events including book clubs, story time for children, and author appearances. I just missed Jonathan Safran Foer! The groups and recommendations reminded me of my local indy bookstore, Literati, and I was so excited to continue exploring.

The shelves and display in this place were beautiful! The store was well-lit, well-organized, and had a lot of personal touches in terms of staff recommendations. I always love recommendations and they’ve directed me toward some amazing reads! The store had a coffee shop in the back (where my husband escaped to trying to chase off jet lag while I explored) and an upstairs section with travel and bargain non-fiction titles. But that fiction section, though! I was blown away.

I’ve added a few more pictures below and I want to call attention to one in particular. One of the featured books was Chemistry by Weike Wang. As I said, I’m always attracted to a recommendation. I saw this book facing outward with a staff recommendation below it. (I later realized it was featured in the Booknotes I’d already picked up.) I said to my husband, “Oh, wow! I knew a girl named Weike Want in high school. We were on the swim team together. She got a perfect score on her ACT and went on to Harvard to study some science or something.” I thought that there was no way the Weike I knew was the same person. There was no way she wrote a book that I then held in a bookstore across the country. Well, guess what? I opened to the back flap and was greeted with a picture that looked a lot like the girl I knew from my swim team and a blurb that mentioned the author had gone to Harvard to study (shock) Chemistry. I confirmed it later by contacting her on Facebook, but the author of this book swam with me in high school! She’s agreed to do an author Q&A with me and I plan to read her book right away so I can get it reviewed and get you all some more info about Weike and her book. I’m so excited!


The other two images featured here are the stained glass over the entry door and the book my husband decided to buy. He loves Shakespeare parodies.

I highly recommend this store to anyone visiting Seattle! It was a gem to be sure.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Gems in Phoenix, Arizona For the Traveling Bibliophile

27 Dec

No vacation for me is complete without a visit to a bookstore. I was in Phoenix a few weeks ago and was able to check out two of them. Woop!

img_3479The first was Book Gallery. I’ve never seen a used bookstore with so many categories and so well-organized! For the first time (I think I can say ‘ever’ here), I found a section on writing AND one on collecting rare books. It was defined down to books about alligators and books about birds and birds in Arizona. I spent an hour looking around and did settle on a book I wanted (an old John Irving that’s out of print). I could have spent even more time looking around, but I wanted to get back to the apartment we were staying in. However, the checkout counter was a glass case filled with old books and the owner was at the register when I walked up and balked at some early editions of Hemingway and Fitzgerald in the case. They were from the early 30s! We had a great conversation and he seemed to know I was a huge book nerd when he mentioned The Great Gatsby wasn’t the best selling of Fitzgerald’s novels during his lifetime and I said, “No, This Side of Paradise was.” (I’m 90% sure of this but can’t find it anywhere.) We then had a long talk about his favorite book, The Kill a Mockingbird and the controversial companion novel, Go Set a Watchman. In the end, I stayed about a half hour after the store closed, his other employee had to close the register out before I made my purchase, and I had a great time. He even showed me his autographed version of To Kill a Mockingbird!!!! It was awesome.


img_3518The other store I went to was much smaller and shared a building with (of all things) a head shop. (In the picture, you can see the ‘BOOKS’ sign above the ‘GLASS JOINT’ sign. There’s also a sign to the right. I almost walked by it three times.) Lawn Gnome Publishing is a zine publisher operating in Roosevelt Row, the artist district of Phoenix. There were a number of used books, a surprising amount of them children’s and YA. In the back, there were some zines that were published in-house. I ended up buying an anniversary card that was handmade (I think) locally and trying to convince the bookseller to go to Ann Arbor for a bookish-vacation.

It was a great trip for me and it was SO NICE to enjoy the warm weather! I hope to do it again soon.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Gem in Chatham, MA (Cape Cod) For the Traveling Bibliophile

22 Aug

img_3291My husband and I traveled to Cape Cod, Massachusetts for a family vacation a few weeks ago. We all split up after lunch to explore the town of Chatham on our own and you can bet I headed straight for the bookstore! I’d walked past Yellow Umbrella Books on our way to lunch and I couldn’t wait to head back and check it out.

Chatham is a small town and almost all the shops catered to tourists like us who were there for the summer to enjoy the beach and the warm weather. This bookstore fit that perfectly. The outside had a shelf of used books for sale and it invited us in to take a look around. There were a lot of new books and those that were used tended to be popular titles. Some were rare and out of print and the store had a good collection of bookish accessories. I bought a bookmark with a painted turtle on it myself. It was quite cute! The journals made a good display. A lot of the books prominently displayed were (of course) more of the ‘beach read’ variety. The store knows its audience well!

What really captured my attention was the decorations they still had up for their Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release. They were spectacular and this is just the type of place I would want to find if I was on vacation for the release. It looks like a great party!

I’ll be sure to report out on my next adventure! Planning is still in process to be prepared for anything!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Gem in South Haven (MI) for the Traveling Bibliophile

7 Jun


Yet another traveling bibliophile moment for me! Over Memorial Day weekend, I was in South Haven, MI for a wedding. This small town is a popular summer travel destination for Chicago residents looking to get out of the big city for the weekend. The ceremony was late on Sunday so after church, my husband and I headed into town for lunch and some book shopping. Our target was Black River Books, a beautiful store.


img_3021As I told the owners while I was in there, it was one of the cleanest and best organized used book stores I’ve ever seen! This place was crazy organized as far as subject matter and the fiction books, and there were TONS of those, were all alphabetized. I was happy to find the biography and business sections alphabetized by author instead of subject which made things infinitely easier for me to find. The great isle headers were super great, too. In addition to telling you what was in the isle, there were labels on each shelf so you knew exactly where to look. I was in nerdy heaven!

I was able to find one book for myself, In The Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches. This has been on my TBR for what feels like years (and in actuality is coming up on 4 years). I could have gotten it from the library, but it popped out to me and I felt like it was a sign! My husband found a comic book about reading comic books. (Trippy, right?) While he was exploring the store, he found this awesome first edition shelf that I had to nerd out over.

How cool is that?! The owners were super nice and the place was really clean. Their two dogs roam the store and I was worried my bad pet allergies would kick in but I had no issues. I would go back again in a heartbeat!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Gem in Grand Rapids (MI) for the Traveling Bibliophile

14 Apr

I’ve decided to use my travels to explore as many indy and used bookstores as I can. Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a long weekend vacation over to Grand Rapids, MI to explore the local breweries. Of course, I squeezed in a bookstore visit. This time around, I chose Argo Books for my exploration.

Yes, it was snowing in April.

Yes, it was snowing in April.

This is one of several bookstores in Grand Rapids, but the only one open while my husband was OK with me striking out alone. It’s situated a bit off Wealthy Street west of the city in a very cool ‘hipster’ area. Needless to say, there are a few breweries within walking distance (one with excellent Vegan pizza, I can report).

Walking in, the store had a limited general fiction and a large assortment of comic books. Many of them were collectors pieces stored in plastic bags. I’ve never seen such a large collection in a large bookstore, it’s something I’m more used to when I go to comic book stores or hobby shops with my husband.

img_2915-1There was a second room separate from the fiction/comic room that held primarily sci-fi books but other odds and ends. I looked through biographies (separated by general, political, sports, and pop culture) and a small foreign language section (mostly French and German, unfortunately for me). Another section that I was really surprised about was a large collection of LIFE magazines dating back to the 50s. My quick inspection left me impressed. It looked like they had most issues sequentially. It was a fun place to look through. There were a few other people in the shop, two looking at fashion books for a friend and another couple looking for vampire literature.

img_2916I went back to the front before I left and overheard the employees talking about a kazoo symphony while I looked through children’s and YA. I did find one book I wanted to purchase, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham. Durham is the only listed ‘novelist’ on my university’s notable alumni page. I hope to be the second. I felt I should read her book and see what company I might be among.

I’m likely heading about a few times this summer. I’ll be sure to report back with some great bookstore findings!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!