Sunday, November 26, 2017

Horizon Books - Traverse City, MI

Horizon Books, Traverse City, MI
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I consider every bookstore I visit to be extraordinary, unique, and even sacred.  They are all gifts to those of us who enjoy books and enjoy visiting amazing bookstores and naturally, I love them all.  But there are those I visit that can defy description.  Horizon Books in Traverse City is one of these.  This store should be in the national conversation of best bookstores for many reasons.  Probably a top ten in longest family-owned independent, since 1961.  Maybe a top ten or twenty in terms of size.  With approximately 900 events/year, another top ten category.  As I told Amy R., the co-owner, visiting this store was overwhelming but in a very good way.  When you visit here, buckle-up for the bookstore ride of your life.

Traverse City may be the cherry capital of the world and the home of a recognized film festival but let's face it, this is a bookstore town.  There are several independent bookstores here and after talking to others, it is simply a reading town for locals and tourists alike.  No wonder Horizon Books has had a successful run since 1961 and continues today, located in a former JC Penny building since 1993.  What a space!  Three levels of books and sidelines, two cafes, one inside the front entrance and one downstairs, two fireplaces, and a great view upstairs looking out at Lake Michigan.  The store has one of the largest children's sections I've seen, taking up about 1/4 of the main level right inside the front door and to the left.  The store is the official bookstore of the National Writers Series featuring authors like Doug Stanton (the founder), Sebastian Junger, and Philip Caputo to name a few.  Horizon also puts out a great newsletter so if you're in the Traverse City area and not on the mailing list, get on it.  And while you're at it, you might as well join their Discount Club for some great savings.  Regular customers are crazy not to take advantage of things like this.  But if you can't make it to Traverse City, go on over to Cadillac, MI and visit the Horizon Books in that town.

This is such a big store that I had low expectations for meeting any owners or store managers.  So it was a wonderful surprise to meet Amy, whose husband Vic founded the business in 1961, and Jill B., the store manager.  These ladies were wonderful to take so much of their time to tell me about the store and its history.  I was happy to hear from Amy that the store's business is going well but not surprising in a town that can support several bookstores.

Readers, this town and this bookstore are a destination.  Do not pass GO, do not collect $200, but go directly to Horizon Books.  You will have a great time and I can guarantee you will want to return.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly.  Believe the hype on this one.  Outstanding.  Based on a true story and two of the characters are real and their real names are used.  The story of three different women from three different backgrounds in WWII and how their stories eventually merge.  All three have something in common, the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women.  We read stories like this one to remember and never forget.  Highly recommended.

CURRENLY READING:  Freddy And The Bean Home News, Walter Brooks.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Odyssey Of Echo Company, Doug Stanton.  Behind Closed Doors, B.A. Paris.

Store front window looking into the cafe area on the main level.  There is another cafe downstairs.  

One of the places you can find events posted is outside before entering the store.  

Enjoy your coffee here under the sheltered overhang.  

Looking into the store from the main entrance.  It is impossible to get the entire view from this picture.  Notice the upper level in the back.  

Looking to the right from the main entrance.  Again, notice the upper level.  

Immediately to the right of the entrance is the cafe.  

And to the right of the cafe is an ample seating area.  

A partial view of the children's section on the left side of the store.  

On the left side of the store and above the children's section, you'll see this great painting.  

A timely and relevant display dedicated to Jim Harrison.  

Newspapers, books, and coffee, what more do you need?  Traverse City people should be here daily!

Lots of side rooms like this on the main level.  

Need a game?  Find this section on the main level.  

Towards the back of the store on the main level you'll find some great places to sit and one of the store's fireplaces.  

Proceed downstairs for any of these genres.  There are especially a lot of bargain books downstairs.  

An overview of the lower level.  

In addition to the cafe on the main level, there is this very roomy cafe space downstairs.  

Take a break from book browsing and play some chess...

...or tinkle the ivories.  This store has it all!

Lots of magazines and periodicals, lower level.  

The lower level fireplace.  

One more reason to visit Horizon Books!

Pass back upstairs and above the main level to the mezzanine and these genres and sidelines.  

Maybe you'll see something you want on your way up to the mezzanine.  

An overview of the mezzanine level.  

The store has lots of greeting cards.  

An overview of the main level and looking toward the front entrance from the mezzanine level.  

With Jill on the left and Amy on the right, two of the fine people at Horizon Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Brilliant Books - Traverse City, MI

Brilliant Books, Traverse City, MI
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This is my third tour through Michigan and after my 1st tour of Michigan was already behind me, I received a message from a follower asking if I had made it to Brilliant Books in Traverse City, because it is a great bookstore.  Drat it all.  I had to tell her that I didn't make it there but I would try to get back.  And now finally, I can say, mission accomplished and the reader was right.  What a wonderful bookstore located in the heart of downtown Traverse City.  In fact, the follower undersold it.  This indie isn't merely great, it's (say it with me) BRILLIANT.

This is an example of another bookstore that could've easily been included in Ron Rice's, My Bookstore.  An expansive one-level space offering all new books, everything neatly arranged and displayed.  I thought the children's section was especially outstanding as well as the offerings by local authors and interests.  The local interest books, in my opinion, are probably big sellers in the summers when this town is hit with hundreds of thousands of tourists.  These tourists make up an important part of the customer base since many continue to purchase books from the store on-line.  This is a great service for those folks who return home to a town with no independent bookstore.  In fact, this is just a huge part of the business and the store bills itself as "Your Long Distance Local Bookstore."  There are some good perks with the store for doing this and they offer a unique subscription service that I haven't noticed elsewhere (Brilliant Books).

Brilliant Books offers events, held right in the store.  They also have a variety of sidelines including lots of greeting cards, reading glasses, t-shirts, onesies for the baby, socks, and a few other items that will make you smile.  The store has an incentive program and by becoming a member you can earn some good discounts and perks.  I wish more indies would do this.

The highlight of my day though was meeting five of the wonderful people who work here.  Peter, the co-owner with his wife who started the business here 10 years ago, along with Andrew, Rachel, Jack, and Caitlin, the social media person, were the best.  What an all-star staff they have here.  My only disappointment was not meeting the rest of their team!

Since Traverse City is such a tourist destination, I'm counting on all my tourist followers to check this store out.  I had to pull myself out of the store or I would've been there all day.  You won't have to worry about that on your vacation.  Enjoy a wonderful experience at Brilliant Books.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly.

RECENTYLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased but gifted, a souvenir Brilliant Books coffee mug.  Thanks Peter!

Another exterior view of a beautiful store front.  

The store has lots of window display space.  

View looking straight into the store from the front entrance.  Enterprising readers may recognize the celebrity scanning the book display.  Yes, that's my mom.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

View looking to the right from the front entrance and a great wall display, all books displayed with covers facing out.  

All of the table displays were outstanding.  

Need a t-shirt for your next literary party?  Here you go.  

Just a portion of the books offered by local authors.  

Just a few of the greeting cards available.  

The store has a long wall of fiction and I love the big sign to help find it.  

A nice display of Shinola journals.  

Check this out.  A map of the many places where Brilliant Books ships books, from their store in Traverse City all over the country.  My guess is that they ship to more than what the map can show.  

Thankfully they offer reading glasses for shoppers like me who break and lose them often.  

When bookstores have the space, I think this is a great way to display t-shirts.  

This is part of the very comfortable seating area, right in the middle of the store.  

Socks and bookbags.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Kids are going to love coming here.  

View from the back of the store looking toward the front entrance.  

This long wall of books will keep you busy.  

Only at an independent bookstore.  

A few of the all-stars you're going to enjoy meeting at Brilliant Books.  L-R: Rachel, Jack Andrew, Peter (the owner), and Caitlin.  Thanks for a great visit.