Delightful Discoveries

May 21, 2010

I recently came across an article and was delighted by it for so many reasons.  Firstly, it is beautifully written, by a favourite writer,  Ann Patchett, of Bel Canto fame.  (Bel Canto is a must-read if you have yet to have the pleasure.)  Secondly, it is about the discovery of a charming little town with charming folk and (deep breath) a charming book store. Sighhhh. Should I mention the cherry pie now? Yup. Charming cherry pie!  As it’s a long weekend, many of you are busy packing your duffle bags and setting off up the coastline, to islands, or through the valleys inland. Whether your journey involves ferries or winding roads or you expect to journey no farther than your own back deck, here’s a little trip for you. A few paragraphs to give you a taste – you can read the full article in the New York Times Style magazine here.

“There I was in Petoskey. The houses were wide of porch and steep of gable, many of them painted in the colors favored by seventh-grade girls. Petunias dangled from window boxes. Below the town the sun spread its diamond light over Lake Michigan, over the boats and the swimmers and the shore. The small downtown was a throwback to some simpler idea of American vacations, a couple of ice cream stores that sold taffy and fudge, a gift shop with T-shirts in the window that said lake. Imagine the cast of “Mad Men” driving out to Michigan in wood-paneled station wagons for the summer. Frank Sinatra playing in the hotel bar. Sophisticated restaurants commingling with pie shops. The world was leafy and dappled, quiet and cool. Within 10 minutes I started to wonder how I could spend the rest of my life in Petoskey.  …

When I walked into the bookstore of this dreamy little town, at that moment, all the other bookstores I’ve known in my life fell away. Julie Norcross founded McLean & Eakin Booksellers in 1992, naming it for her two grandmothers. Like the town she comes from, she must have a long history of people falling in love with her at first sight. She’s one of those supremely competent individuals who would have made an excellent pioneer. One imagines she could build a sod house in a pinch, but she can also tell a joke, drink a martini, run a business. The books at McLean & Eakin are arranged to beckon, and there are plenty of big chairs to fall into once you heed their call. It is the kind of store where I could happily spend a summer.  …

It is just so thrilling to be around people who read, people who will pull a book off the shelf and say, “This is the one you want.” People who want to know what I’m reading and will tell me what they’re reading so that while we talk, stacks of books begin to form around us. It’s my own personal idea of heaven. It is also, in this age of the overnighted electronic hand-held, a bit of Americana you aren’t going to see everywhere. Like the town of Petoskey itself, a very good bookstore feels a little nostalgic, a place out of time.”

 Learn more about McLean & Eakin Booksellers here.  Visit Petoskey, Michigan here.

May you have delightful discoveries yourself on this long weekend!

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