Friday, January 13, 2017

Mystery To Me - Madison, WI

Mystery To Me, Madison, WI
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It's only fitting that the first bookstore I visited in the new year is a new bookstore.  Mystery To Me has only been open for 3 1/2 years and its opening and successful start only reinforces everything I hear and read that independent bookstores are returning and business is growing.  That's certainly the case here.  As Joanne B., the owner of Mystery To Me told me, business has grown steadily each year and things are going very well.  Another great sign for indies everywhere.

As the name of the store implies, this indie has a strong inventory of mystery titles and authors.  I enjoy seeing specialty stores like these but I also like it if they offer other genres.  Mystery To Me also offers a variety of fiction, non-fiction, regional interests, sci-fi, and recent releases and best-sellers.  They also have a children's section, thanks to a grant from author James Patterson, a huge supporter of independent bookstores.  All the books are new and arranged quite neatly in a one-level, medium-sized space.  It is a very comfortable store to browse in, which I like.  On the day of my visit, Joanne had the Pandora app set to the baroque channel, the best music to browse or read books for me.

For those of you who are in education and ready for a change, take heart.  Joanne was in higher education with a prestigious position at the University of Wisconsin and said, enough, I'm done with this (sound familiar, teacher friends?).  Her next chapter was to open an independent bookstore and although it's a lot of work, she told me she absolutely loves it.  This is a recurring theme with almost everyone I meet on this journey.  The store has a few sidelines, more so during the holiday season, but a huge part of the store's success has been their events.  In their first year alone they hosted over 100 events.  Most of these are held in the store but for larger events they're able to use conference space at the nearby Hotel Red.  These are all free of charge and are a great way to get customers into the store.  Joan has also established ties with many of the local libraries, a great thing for any indie owner.

If you drive here, metered parking is available on the street.  The store has a primo location that's highly visible for cars and foot traffic.  If you've never been to Mystery To Me, you're going to have a wonderful experience meeting Joanne and visiting a gem of a bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The View From Penthouse B, Elinor Lipman.  This is kind of a chick lit book for middle-agers.  Two middle-aged but youngish sisters, one divorced and one widowed, decide to share an apartment in NYC to save money.  The widow embarks on internet dating and the divorcee decides whether to take back her immoral husband.  Numerous subplots.  This was a good book but not my cup of tea.  This will resonate for many women readers.  

CURRENTLY READING:  A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Magdalen Girls, V. S. Alexander.  

When you visit a Wisconsin bookstore, in January, enduring wind chills, and take a picture outside with your gloves off, you get a blurry picture.  At least that's what I'm blaming this on.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Diligent readers may recognize the celebrity on the left.  Yes, that's my mom.  

A nice view looking to the left from the front entrance.  

A few of the greeting cards available.

One very comfy chair to enjoy while you sample a book.  

A great display of the NY Times paperback bestsellers.  

A portion of the regional interests and authors.  

Some of the store's favorites.  

A portion of the children's section, funded partly by author James Patterson.  I really like the wall display.  
Another portion of the children's section.  

If mystery's aren't your thing, never fear.  You can find other great reads in this store.  

It's not too late to get that new calendar.  

Joanne has a large flat-screen in the store which allows her to Skype with authors around the country.  

If sci-fi is your thing, look for this table display.  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance.  Since this picture doesn't do it justice, you'll have to visit and see for yourself.  

Another one of those quirky sidelines you can only find at an independent bookstore.  

With Joanne on the left, the fine owner at Mystery To Me.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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