Tag Archives: bookstores


Remember Book Beat––the store stuffed with books and more books!
Come on in. Books Books Books!


Chris Van Allsburg arrives at Book Beat. Welcome Mr. Van Allsburg.


Chris Van Allsburg, a Michigan native writes and illustrates children’s books. He has won two Caldecott Medals. Adults and children love his books. Some of the best known are Two Bad Ants, The Polar Express, and Jumanji. Here’s a quote from his website: “The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what fascinates me.”

The author patiently signs books.


The crowd patiently waits to have books signed.


Owners and staff are always ready to help book searchers.


Remember Two Bad Ants.
His newest book is Sweetie Pie.

Here’s one of my favorites: Just A Dream.

I had to buy a copy of The Polar Express.

I’m glad he visited. Filled with joy to be back at Book Beat and meeting Mr. Van Allsburg again.



Appalach Bookstore 2

Downtown Books and Purl: Great Books and Fine Yarn
67 Commerce Street
Apalachicola, Florida

Tucked into a spot on a side street in the small historic town of Apalachicola on the bay of the same name, this bookshop is a rare treat, and a favorite of mine for a good number of years. When I enter and make my way across the smooth, worn floorboards with tables and racks of books on every side, I feel like I’m coming home.


It’s a cozy place. Every way I turn are more books, always displayed in a way that makes them seem presented to me personally. The sections are varied. There are books of local interest, books by southern writers, books on history and geography, and always, favorite fiction and the latest novels. The lively selection of children’s books is not to be missed. Two shelves of cookbooks keeping me browsing even though family and friends are waiting. I find it hard to leave the enchanting spell of the books and the place.




There are baskets, magazines, artwork and more. All is to be enjoyed. And, all is for sale. Some time ago the owner took up knitting and soon the shop was sporting a charming back alcove filled with yarn. If you can take your eyes off the colorful yarns and other knitting accoutrements, you’ll notice the screen door leads out to a lovely garden. The weather has been brisk but the garden is preparing for spring flowers.


Most years I’m able to have a spring visit to this inviting shop. Dale Julian welcomes me, and when asked, she gives me some well-appreciated recommendations. We enjoy talking books. Almost always, I buy poetry here, but this year, it was not to be. I saw Janisse Ray’s latest book (I already own it and her book of poems, too) and Wendell Berry’s new Collected Poems, and more volumes of poetry by Mary Oliver, but opted for other genres this time.



And the new books on my reading pile are:

Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt by Marlena Spieler with photographs by Sheri Giblin. This tantalizing book has lots of information on cheeses, grilling, sources and many other things, along with gorgeous pictures and mouthwatering recipes. They look tasty and out-of-the-ordinary, and I can’t wait to try some of the surprising pairings.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. Her novel Bel Canto blew me away. Now she has written a memoir about the art and craft of writing, personal experiences and life stories.

The Expats by Chris Pavone. This book is an Edgar Award Winner and a mystery set in Luxembourg with a heroine who uncovers many secrets.

And I also purchased
Remembering Blue by Connie Mae Fowler. This novel is a gift for my hostess. It’s my favorite novel by this author. Fowler writes life in North Florida in a special way. Shrimp boats, Dog Island and more are part of this story. But it is the central characters that tugged at my heart strings. I hope she likes it half as much as I did.

In my eight or ten visits, I’ve always felt like Dale was very glad to see me. I love the books I find here (I saw about ten more books I’d like to own), and the peace I feel among the shelves and the books they hold. Please don’t miss this place if you visit this unique town on the Apalachicola River. Find out more about this one-of-a-kind bookstore and see some notable pictures by visiting the website. The Downtown Books and Purl fuzzy feeling will warm your heart and mind.






For many years my favorite independent bookstore has been Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa. I have enjoyed many visits and bought many books there. Iowa is my native state but not where I live these days, so visits to Iowa City are infrequent. But this week I was lucky enough to be there.

The bookstore is located downtown near the campus of the University of Iowa. It is a cozy, well-used space. There are three floors with a coffee shop on the top floor. Staff is always ready to help.

One of the things I have always appreciated about Prairie Lights is how well books are organized, how easy different types of books are to find. Sections are well marked. There are books about Iowa and writing in Iowa as well as large sections on history, literature and poetry. There are cookbooks, books on the environment, a nice selection of literary journals and much more. You get the idea: variety. Books for readers with different interests.

I enjoyed a large display of Staff Picks with informative notes on each one. One of their picks is a book I am currently reading, The Cradle by Patrick Somerville. It is a spare, well-written novel about a family search. This is an example of how this bookstore and I never fail to connect.

There was also a display entitled Indie Bound. Here I took a second look at a newly published best seller Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt. This title was included in a recent post on the Reading page of this blog in a list of ten books by authors I have not yet read. This time I reluctantly put it off for later. IndieBound has an informative website. www.indiebound.org.

I purchased two books. A Thousand Mornings is a recent volume of poetry by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. She takes us to the marshlands and coastline of her home in Massachusetts. I know I will enjoy the trip. The second book is by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, titled A House In the Sky. This is a memoir by a young woman held hostage in Somalia. Recently published, this book is receiving quite a bit of attention.

It seemed to me that the store was not as tightly filled with books as in the past. But books were still easy to view. There were plenty of bargains to be had. You can order books and find other useful information about books at www.prairielights.com and at www.prairielightsbooks.com. The difference is that the latter is an online bookstore while the first site tells about events, staff picks and more. In store readings can be listened to from your home through the internet at writinguniversity.uiowa.edu. Discover Prairie Lights and its resources for yourself. You will be glad you did.

Even if this favorite did not wrap its arms around me quite as tightly as it has on other visits, it is still the favorite I’ve known the longest when it comes to independent book stores. I very much look forward to my next time there, whether I can be in Iowa City or travel via the internet.