Saturday, July 21st, 2018

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Education, entertainment, enlightenment all found at your local bookstore

Shop owner Harriett Logan and Otis take a break at Loganberry Books on Larchmere. (Photograph by Sali McSherry)

Shop owner Harriett Logan and Otis take a break at Loganberry Books on Larchmere. (Photograph by Sali McSherry)



I could spend endless days at local book stores in Greater Cleveland. I love the creaky floors, the striking personalities of each shop, the embracing of the community, the spot-on staff picks, the special events that are too numerous to list and the beauty of the profound profusion of the written word stacked on shelves for us to discover.

The Learned Owl Book Shop Hudson


Located in a historical building constructed in the 1800s, the Learned Owl has its own charm, and a storied past.

“In the early 1990s, a number of big box stores were looking to open in the newly developed area of Hudson, and the entire town rallied to ensure that the livelihood of the locally owned Main Street businesses would not be jeopardized,” said owner Kate Schlademan.

“More recently, I ran a successful fundraising campaign in order to purchase the business of the Learned Owl. The community rallied in order to ensure that I was able to raise the down payment and carry on where the previous owner, Liz Murphy, left off.”

That represents the power of community, the embracing of neighbors, and the sheer love of books.

“Locally owned bookstores act as the hub of the community. They serve as a meeting place for groups and organizations to share ideas and opinions. In a place where an infinite number of ideas are displayed you can not help but feel relaxed and at home,” Ms. Schlademan noted.

The Learned Owl is one of the few shops in the area that carries only new product. Three floors of thousands of books, from “New York Times” bestsellers and classics, to picture books in a charming children’s room, and books covering a wide spectrum of subjects as well as cards and notes.

The shop hosts a wide variety of local and national authors monthly; events for children, such as story time on Saturday mornings; book clubs, and a new summer and fall writing series.

Loganberry Books Shaker Heights 216.795.9800

What makes Loganberry Books on Larchmere so welcoming? Well, it’s not just Otis, the cat who greets customers, it’s also the inviting sink-into sofa, the Oriental rugs, the skylights as well as several comfortable reading nooks and exciting literary events. But, what keeps us coming back is the evolving collection of books.

Featuring new, used and collectible books side-by-side, customers may encounter a new hardback of Scott O’Dell’s “Island of the Blue Dolphins” for $16.99, a used paperback for $3.50, and a vintage signed edition of the same title for, say, $45,” noted owner Harriet Logan.

“We love books here. We love the physical object, the artistry of hand-bound volumes, but also the contents of good writing, fine illustration and excellent scholarship. Beauty is important, and it’s part of the package, both in the shopping experience, and in the act of reading.”

She continued, “Community support goes both ways: people love to browse in a beautiful, diverse and curated bookstore, and they need to support it with their purchasing power.”

She said, “I’ll also argue that books transcend time and grant us access to historical perspectives, from modern reprints of ancient Roman texts to vintage Big Little comics that are cultural artifacts of a generation that grew up before television was ubiquitous. We need these reminders in life, and we need to learn from the past while carving our own existence in the present, and looking towards the future.”

The store houses “LitArts,” a room large enough to hold concerts, open mic nights, book signings and other special events and hosts book clubs, live music and fresh art in the Annex Gallery.

Mac’s Backs — Books on Coventry Cleveland Heights 216.321.BOOK (2665)

If you’re interested in magazines, you have to check out Mac’s Backs’ spectacular collection of magazines; about 200 titles, including “Juxtapos,” “Lucky Peach,” “Orion,” “Philosophy Now,” “Adbusters,” “the Sun,” among other fascinating finds.

Do you love science fiction? The balcony holds more than 5,000 new and used sci-fi books.

“Independent neighborhood and main street book stores are surviving if not thriving around the country. The ‘buy local’ movement has educated our customers about how important locally owned enterprises are for the community,” said Mac’s Backs’ bright light Suzanne DeGaetano, who owns the store with book lover and attorney Jim McSherry. In 1978 he founded the shop, which has moved several times since then and has been on Coventry since 1982.

“A bookstore is a unique type of retail establishment because it also has a cultural role in the community. Neighborhood bookstores are so diverse and different from each other because of the dynamic synergy between the store, staff and customers.”

Ms. DeGaetano said, “I remember reading once that honey from beehives just a few blocks away from each other will be entirely different. Bookstores reflect not only the tastes and attitudes of the owners but also the taste and attitudes of the neighborhood. Our conversations with customers about books are the lifeblood of our store. We love when customers browse the stacks, which sometimes overflow onto stacks on the floor and we love to recommend good reads.”

Mac’s Backs has three floors of new and used books and magazines. “We trade customers for used books and therefore the books in the store will reflect the taste and reading habits of the community. We also sell new books — neighborhood bestsellers, books from local authors, classic reads and books that are part of the current and ongoing cultural conversation.

“We believe that bookstores are cultural outposts, a place for people to be stimulated, educated and entertained,” Ms. DeGaetano said.

Also, it’s nice to note that the shop is connected by an open door to Tommy’s restaurant, which specializes in vegetarian fare and the best milkshakes in town.

Mac’s hosts poetry readings at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month, an ongoing event for nearly 30 years; book clubs for adults as well as middle-school girls; a nature writers workshop and many author and special events.


Fireside Book Store Chagrin Falls  440.247.4050

One of the favorite areas for children of all ages is the kids’ room that is full of colorful books and toys at Fireside Book Shop in Chagrin Falls.

In town for the past 50 years, the shop has a vintage book-store vibe; the floors still creak and the nooks and crannies are filled with prized books, cards, calendars and other gift items. A strong supporter of Chagrin Valley and Northeast Ohio authors, Fireside is dedicated to providing opportunities for book signings and other author events.

It prides itself on its ability to provide out-of-print book searches, stocks most current books and can special order quickly from more than 500,000 in-print titles. The shop also has a large staff-pick section and a very knowledgeable children’s department by former teachers, said Phil Barress, who manages the store.

“In the current climate of big box stores and online sales, a small bookstore is a more intimate shopping experience and provides the customer with the opportunity to ask questions and chat with a knowledgeable staff member in order to choose the right book for their needs. It’s the one-on-one interaction that makes a small bookstore experience so worthwhile,” he explained.

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