Monday, April 1, 2013

The Joy of Unexpected Bookstores

by Julia Buckley

In the little waterfront town of Saugatuck, Michigan, down Butler Street, there is a doorway, tucked between two stores, that you might miss if you're not looking.  Beyond this is a long, narrow staircase, and if you ascend it you will find yourself in Singapore Bank Bookstore, which looks, at first glance, more like an intimate little apartment than like a place of business; yet here you will find books in every genre, new and used, scattered across shelves in an artistic way.
 The proprietor, Judy Nye Hallissey, is also an artisan, and her blown glass is arranged throughout the store as a colorful accompaniment to the beautiful book covers.  This is the sort of store where one can browse and browse and find little delights--some from this era, some from another--that might tempt a booklover.
The joy of places like this is that while it was once easy to find a whimsical bookstore that offered books and  knickknacks, it is now a rarity.  When we looked online for bookstores in the area, we found only two, and one of them was closed until summer. Even when we asked in town, people seemed unsure where to send us; their furrowed brows seemed to suggest that they did not frequent bookstores.

I chatted with Ms. Hallissey about books and found her well-versed in the mystery genre. She recommended quite a few titles to me, and also referenced some mystery blogs that I could read.  The books themselves seemed particularly lovely in this setting--artistic, colorful covers on which my hands lingered.  So many choices!  Since I was selecting titles for my sons and my husband, who all lean toward the hard-boiled, we ended up choosing Ed McBain, Carl Hiaason, Lee Child, and Jason Pinter.  There were many other titles I would have purchased for myself, but I have a pile of reading waiting for me that will last quite a while (a good thing)!

This store was an unexpected delight in a short but lovely vacation. 

Do you know of any whimsical or unexpected bookstores?  Be sure to visit this one if you ever go to Saugatuck.


Sandra Parshall said...

What a great place! Looks like a fun shop to poke around. The only small bookstore in my neighborhood is a used book store that's heavy on recent-vintage bestsellers.

Julia Buckley said...

I miss used bookstores. We used to have about five in my town, but they're all gone. That's why this place was fun, because she had brand new merchandise, but also some oldies for a few bucks.

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