Friday, December 17, 2004

A Pearl of a Place--Don't Miss It

'Reading is thinking with text.'
--- Dorothy Strickland, professor of reading at Rutgers University and past president of the International Reading Association

We've grown so used to high-quality chain bookstores--some of which are better than others at feigning reverence for reading and all things intellectual--that even the most serious readers among us may have grown a little rusty in our ability to distinguish the real thing from the pseudo, the bookstores which cater to class rather than mass. And those that are fixtures of their own communities instead of small dots on a larger canvas. If you do nothing else in this pre-holiday season, PLEASE visit what may just be the best remaining locally owned and controlled shrine to real bookloving in Cleveland, Loganberry Books (here), just off Shaker Square on Larchmere Boulevard. And while you're at it, don't just visit, but try to patronize it as well, supporting a wonderful place now celebrating its tenth anniversary. You can even order online. Why not use their Pay Pal-enabled online capabilities to order a gift book or two, rather than giving the business to far away Amazon just this once?

On a visit yesterday, I was reminded of what a special, even hallowed, place this is. I had an extra 13 minutes in my schedule, running early for an appointment (as I tend to do about maybe twice a decade). And despite the time crunch, I left feeling inspired and renewed. The space, newly enlarged and renovated last year, is inviting enough to the senses. The combination of acres of wood bookcases crammed with books, plenty of lush oriental rugs, tasteful track lighting and a generous helping of plants bespeaks much thought put into making the interior inviting. But the smaller touches that Harriett the owner has included are even more telling. In a cramped passageway between two rooms, you'll find a billboard to your left and an old-style lecturn to the right. On the lecturn, browsers are invited to add their signatures to a petition the American Booksellers Association has organized against certain privacy features in the Patriot Act pertaining to reading, I'd never seen this anywhere else, including at no other bookstore. Meanwhile, on the bulletin board, I learned that Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights is having a high school Writers' Festival in March. That was new information to me as well, despite the fact that I know the school well, since my wife has worked there for the better part of the last 15 years. Click here to learn more about that program, which I plan on telling the world about.

In short, Loganberry Books is what a serious bookstore should be--a cozy community for the mind, a clearing house for all things reading, writing and books. And, I should add, a place not to be missed during your busy holiday season. Let's patronize our grand and important places, lest they shrivel up and go away.


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