My Bookstore edited by Ronald Rice has become my personal version of 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. Some people travel for sporting events (Cubs, anyone?), I prefer to meet authors.  Years ago, I stumbled across the book after discovering Ann Patchett contributed an essay about her favorite bookstore, McLean and Eakin.  Not only is McLean and Eakin in my home state, but throughout the essay she professed her love for all things Northern Michigan.  Anyone who appreciates how beautiful Michigan is holds an extra special place in my heart.

Since reading the essay, I longed to go to McLean and Eakin.  It’s seven hours from my apartment, but only three hours from my parents’ house and could easily be a day trip taken during a time I was already visiting Michigan.  Months ago I learned that Ann was speaking there in October- on a day I was off work anyway (clearly, I work for the best school district in the WORLD who understands my passions)!  I quickly bought a ticket and booked a hotel room (complete with jetted bathtub and king size bed) for a fall weekend away to meet my favorite author, a woman I love as much for her writing as for her excellent book recommendations!

After a season of not so patient waiting, October came.  Those of you who read will understand the complete bliss I experienced to not only be in the same room as my favorite author while eating fancy hors d’Oeuvres and sipping wine, but in the front row and in the first seat!  Previously I had only met her dog, Sparky so this was a big step!  A picture with very bad lighting follows:

I arrived alone, but found plenty of other women to talk with and made friends with many classy “old ladies”, a skill I seem to have a knack for.  I was brave enough to ask a question, the generous glass of wine on a previously empty stomach may have helped, and as a result learned which books I’ll receive signed copies of from the First Edition Club between now and February.  The club is one of my greatest joys and I’m most looking forward to my signed copy of Lincoln in the Bardo this February!  Ann talked about the book she has in her head right now and even shared the title.  She answered many questions that she has discussed countless times previously, I could have answered them for her and many times I did under my breath.  I would like to publicly apologize to the woman next to me.

The event left me in an epic state of bliss the remainder of the weekend.  I found an incredible yoga studio, leisurely swam alone in my hotel pool, got excellent book recommendations from Alex Ness at McLean and Eakin, took advantage of Restaurant Week with my cousin who joined me Saturday, purchased sour cherry preserves at American Spoon, traveled the Tunnel of Trees, and visited more wineries than I am used to visiting on a single day.  To summarize, I had the most incredible weekend and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity!

Many people have a place they go to each year and never tire of, I have found my place.  Petoskey is  my love.  McLean and Eakin is my booktore.