Bookends Lasting Impression

picture provided by Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/pile-of-books-159866/

Though I grew up on books, loved them even, the hobby sort of fell off as I grew older. I found I had less time to read, to the point where it seemed like it wasn’t even worth picking up a book anymore. That all changed when I first visited Bookends on Main. 

At first glance, the shop seemed small. However, upon closer look, one can find hundreds of worlds filled with imagination, knowledge, and creativity. The store itself felt comfortably cozy, and the lack of music allowed for me to concentrate on searching through the different types of genres Bookends provided. From nonfiction to fantasy, the store seemed to have something for everyone. It was true that I had initially visited the shop because a school project required me to, but curiosity had me stay behind for a lot longer than I had intended. I searched and searched, and finally landed on a book that interested me. It was a fiction novel set in a dystopian future, entitled 1984. I purchased the novel, and finished it within the week. I felt refreshed, as I hadn’t actually read a novel on my own in quite some time. I visited the shop once more, and looked through more books, exploring what else could possibly quench my hunger for entertainment and knowledge. A shop that once seemed so small and simple, turned into a relaxing escape where I could let my mind run loose. The pages of the books never hurt my eyes like a computer screen would, and there’s always a restful place to sit in the store. I felt almost at home.

My point here is quite simple. While, if you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably familiar with Bookends already, I challenge those who aren’t familiar with the store to give it an honest chance. Sparring even ten minutes to just look around and experience the wonders of this shop for yourself can change your perspective on it forever. I’m thankful I visited this shop, and I plan for it to be a part of my life here at college for the coming years. There’s something that differentiates this store from other places that sell books. Maybe it’s the relaxed look it gives off, maybe it’s the helpful staff, maybe it’s the low lighting. Whatever the case, Bookends on Main is magical. And magic can be hard to find.

Advertisements

A Fish Gift by Dave Carlson

A Fish Gift by Dave Carlson is a methodical piece of literature that guides a reader into every aspect of the character’s life. The Character Donley McCurdy, an avid fisherman and outdoors man finds himself caught under a spool of wire during a typical day of fishing the creek behind his house near Chippewa Falls Wisconsin. Faced with a situation that could be the end of McCurdy, his life trickles like a stream through his head. Readers understand the elderly man all over again after numerous stories and memories are explained through McCurdy’s point of view. Stories such as the first time he went fishing with his Grandpa, the lives of his grandchildren, and he beloved friend who died from cancer fuel his will to survive. The stories told in this short book are something all readers can follow and feel at the same time.

Heartfelt is the word that comes to mind when the character tells about his many adventures. One’s heart can rise with the comical adventure of McCurdy and his best buddy Boyd Parson shooting ducks and cleaning them in the dorm bathroom. At the same time a reader’s heart can rise reading this story, their heart can drop when they read the events that transpire the end of the inseparable relationship the two buddies had.

Although the stories were full of emotion they are not drawn out. Carlson gives readers just enough to spark a thought without explaining every step or series of events. This concision is appreciated because readers will stay tuned in reading four to five page chapters instead of the normal 10 to 20.

Although the book, A Fish Gift, is colorful in words the cover art and drawings lack coloration. Because the book tells so much about great Big Rock Campsite, the setting of McCurdy’s near demise, the big Brook Trout, and other fantastic scenes, a little bit of hue would be helpful for readers to really understand the beauty of Wisconsin and the neighboring regions.

Local Book Review – Broken Blade

BB

About two months ago, a very enthusiastic Daniel Ruefman, teaching the creative writing class at University of Wisconsin – Stout, handed me, and the rest of the class, a copy of this book- Broken Blade, by Kelly McCullough. Myself, a middling college student, bored between classes and searching for fast, creative entertainment separate from the normal day-to-day minutia of video games and internet browsing, decided to read it for a change.

Boy, am I glad I did.

Broken Blade occupies a strange, but not unwelcome place in terms of genre. It resides in the distant crevasse separating fantasy and noir, but McCullough makes it work, somehow. There’s a eloquence to McCullough’s writing that might be found in some older fantasy works, much like the older fantasy novels, such as David Eddings’ Belgeriad. Combining sword-and-sorcery and dames-in-red-dresses (quite literally, in the case of this book), Broken Blade gives a distinct air. Sharp and unique, yet refined with a bloodthirsty edge- Much like the hero of our story.

Aral is -or was- an assassin. Part of the now dead Blades of Namara, he has found himself since out of work and apart from the cutthroat world he once inhabited. But when a woman comes to him for hired help, a journey begins that finds Aral sauntering back into a lifestyle he had since thought he left behind. As he steps into familiar bloodsoaked waters, he finds that he’s rapidly descending back into his element, in the red-stained shadows he was born to inhabit.

You can check out Broken Blade, among many other titles by local authors, at Bookends on Main.

Selling Bookends on Main

Surprising enough there is something brewing in the air and to some it may be a shock to hear. Susan the wonderful owner of Bookends on Main is thinking about selling the store. She is split between whether she should do it or keep the store. She is all for keeping the store if her mind and body is up for the challenge. As the years go by no matter how old you get you still need something to occupy your time she says and the bookstore was just that for her. As much as she loves the store if someone of interest comes along that is younger and wants to keep the bookstore up and running she would have no problems with selling.

Running a bookstore is not an easy task. You have all sorts of challenges you have to face and especially competing with other big name bookstores and online selling and digital books as well its a handful of work. But there are people out there of like paper copy books and enjoy the content in them even more. Yes, it is more fancy on a laptop or e-reader but those run out of batteries eventually and need to be charged. With paper copies you can take them with you and have no hassle.

Some fun facts about the store that are interesting is that it was once a grocery store in its early days. It was also a restaurant in the 1940’s where former chancellor Robert Swanson was a waiter there at the time he was student at Stout. The building it self has a profound history going back to the 1880’s. It housed lawyers and doctors offices and was once a sandwich shop and a Hallmark card shop. This is a iconic location in the Downtown area of Menomonie and Bookends on Main is apart of that. It would be a sad day to see it go as it means so much to Susan herself and the people that enjoy its wonderful readings.

Embrace Banned Books!

With the number of books being banned rising throughout the country, the diversity of titles for kids to read through their middle and high school career seems to be becoming gradually limited. However, there is one person trying to make a difference by promoting and offering these books at an affordable price. That would be Bookends on Main‘s own, Susan Thurin!

On my first stop to Bookends, what immediately caught my eye was the large display of banned books behind the glass. It was interesting to me because I was ignorant of the fact that some books could even be banned by states. I’d done a little research and ended up learning a lot due to this. Books beloved by many were being put behind creative restrictions because they were violating rules, but that doesn’t mean they should be prevented from being sold and read. Banning books is the product of narrow thinking in my opinion. 

Susan understands this..and uses her power as owner of Bookends to make a creative, positive difference! When asked in an interview what she thought about banned books, she had this to say: “Most people want to broaden their horizons, learn about other cultures, ideas, people, countries, behavior, and so on. The idea behind banning book sis to prevent that broadening of information and vicarious experience, in effect to promote ignorance. Of course, I and most people have read and enjoyed banned books from Huck Finn to Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, and so on.”

I myself have picked up some of these banned books from Bookends since learning of them, such as 1984 and Catcher in the Rye. I’ve had a pleasant time reading them, as I’m sure any reader would.

All of the books listed above are available now at Bookends, and the store hopes to continue it’s support of these books as much as it can. Additionally, if interested, below are a list of books that have been banned at one point. Creative content doesn’t deserve to be restricted, all books should have the same rights to be read and enjoyed.

Picture provided by American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech/artistic-expression/banned-books-0

Bigger is Not Always Better

David and Goliath is a story I think of when I walk into the local indie bookstore, Bookends on Main. Although Bookends on Main is a small town store she fairs well when put up against big chain stores, such as Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million.

Bookends on Main, located right downtown Menomonie, WI, has that comforting small-town feel that chain stores simply can not match. With helpful employees and an inviting layout, customers will feel at home when searching through the shelves. Some might say that indie stores are too small and that there is not enough variety. However, this indie store provides six thousand plus books for customers to choose from and many genres, anything from children’s books to science fiction. Also, if a person can not find the copy they are looking for, an employee will gladly order any text a customer needs. Bookends on Main, unlike big bookstores, offers a certain attention to detail that many other businesses lack. One aspect that this local store considers is the fact that books can be quite expensive. With price as a factor, Bookends on Main understands that paperback books are a friendlier, cost-effective way to reach more customers.

Local books are another way that Bookends on Main competes with its larger foes. Authors around the Chippewa Valley area appreciate this local business for recognizing their pieces of literature alongside the big names such as Patterson and Roberts. Bookends is a treasure to local authors because it is a step in the door to create sales and reach an audience.

Bookends on Main is not only a convenient location for citizens of  Menomonie, but it is handy for UW – Stout students as well. Located right next to campus, Bookends on Main is able to cater to students. Instead of spending much-needed study time driving thirty miles to the nearest big bookstore, Bookends on Main offers students an easily accessible location to find their literature fix.

The Local Pen

Menominie

With Menominie’s rather blissful lakeside attitude and reflective, quiet-ish atmosphere, it’s easy to find the reason why local writers seem to crop up in the surrounding area. The ancient trees are full of stories to share, and there’s no small amount of people ready to write them down and share what they wrote. When asked, Susan of Bookends on Main states, “you might like to [look at] books by UW-Stout student graduates and local authors, especially Kelly McCullough.”

Kelly McCullough’s book Broken Blade, along with his other works such as Web Mage and Magic, Madness and Mischief, are just a few examples of books shared and released by local authors, not to mention he himself came and volunteered to discuss the act of creative writing as both a hobby and as a full-time career. “I’d like to describe myself as sort of a word mercenary,” he says.

Another local author, a poet and a professor at UW-Stout, Daniel Ruefman, is also present, teaching a creative writing class, among many other things. Author of the collection of poems Breathe Automatic, and his newest collection of works, Sleep Bringer, is expected to come sometime next year.

However, one of the most renowned local authors is a veritable titan of literature. Niel Gaiman, author of works such as Norse Mythology, American Gods, Anansi Boys, and The Graveyard Book has taken up residence outside the town, even going so far as to base the fictional town of Lakeside, from American Gods, on Menominee itself.

You can check out all of these books, and more, within Bookends on Main.