After the 2011 Michigan Notable Books were announced in December, I posted on this blog a Michigan Notable Books Reading Challenge. It was something I’d meant to do the last couple of years, as a small show of support for the great books that come from Michigan authors; but I didn’t quite get organized enough to run the challenge those previous years. This time around, however, I managed to actually post about the challenge (rather than just thinking about posting about the challenge…) and I’m very glad I did! A large number of you – some of you living here in Michigan, some of you living in other states; some of you who’d heard of the Notable Awards before; many of you who had not -- took me up on my challenge of committing to read, at some point this year, two of the Notable Books. Thank you! I hope you are all enjoying your reading selections.
All of you who signed up were entered in a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to a Michigan independent bookstore. I recently drew the prize winner’s name; and, due to a kindly anonymous donation, I was also able to award a few second prizes. All of the winners have been notified and have picked their bookstores. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be profiling those bookstores, along with a few other Michigan bookstores you might like to know more about.
One of our second prize winners was Mary Jane Zako. For the reading challenge, she chose to read The Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon; The Detroit Electric Scheme by D. E. Johnson; and Freshwater Boys by Adam Schuitema. Mary Jane has been an avid reader since she was a child and she is amazed at the number of excellent authors from Michigan. She is often pleasantly surprised to learn that a favorite author has Michigan connections. For her gift certificate, Mary Jane selected the bookstore McLean & Eakin.
McLean & Eakin is an independent bookstore located in Petoskey, Michigan. For those of you not from Michigan, Petoskey is a small town on the “north coast” of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Petoskey has a year-round population of about 6,000, though the quantity of people goes up seasonally. Located on Little Traverse Bay, picturesque Petoskey has a high concentration of Lake Michigan’s Petoskey stones and a well-deserved reputation as a summer vacation hotspot.
McLean & Eakin was founded by Julie Norcross in 1992 and is now owned by Julie’s son Matt and his wife Jessilynn. It’s a 5,000 square-foot, two-story general bookstore well-stocked with wonderful books in all genres. The store has an excellent children’s selection, many regional titles, a Hemingway section, and Staff Recommendations made by a well-read staff. The store hosts events and discussion groups throughout the year. Located in the walkable and scenic downtown Historic Gaslight District, the bookstore has strong and active ties to the community. Through their 10% for Schools program, McLean & Eakin has given more than $100,000 to local schools and nonprofits.
In 2000, McLean & Eakin received the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award. This honor recognizes bookstores that excel at creatively bringing books and children together. And in 2004, Julie Norcross was honored with the Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling, an award given to a bookseller who exemplifies the highest standards of excellence in the profession. Current co-owner Matt Norcross serves as Vice President of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association board, and he will also serve on the American Booksellers Association board beginning in May 2011.
I had the great pleasure of visiting McLean & Eakin last fall for a bookstore story time and some area school visits. During my time there, I was thoroughly impressed by the bookstore, the store’s staff, and the entire community. And I’m not the only visiting author to feel this way: novelist Ann Patchett wrote an essay for the New York Times about her love of Petoskey and of McLean & Eakin. Read the essay, and then visit McLean & Eakin. If you can’t go in person, go by mouse! You’ll be very glad you did.