When the semester gets to a point where I find myself unable to face my books any longer, I shut down my laptop (along with the 20 or so unread tabs on my browser) and stroll over to one of my favourite places in Ann Arbor–the Dawn Treader Book Shop.
Housed between a restaurant and a club, you don’t know what to expect as you walk in through the tiny doorway. Stepping in immediately drives in the realisation that there are a lot of books in this world, and right after follows the desire to devour them all. The store houses a remarkable variety of books, and the subjects range from Asian Art to Evolution to Gardening (my eternal favourite ‘Fiction’ having an entire aisle to itself). There is no superfluous music just a quiet air about the place that adds to the atmosphere of sanctity. You are in the land of Books (new and used), mortal, must you need distraction (and unlike other quiet places around downtown, laptop screens aren’t an ubiquitous sight)?
I think of this store as the perfect antithesis to online shopping. Every time I enter, I let myself wander through its shelves, authors I’ve never heard of peeping out at me (I yelp in delight every time I notice an Indian author I love, whose books are never found in bigger bookstores in the US). Each of these times, I have been rewarded. A collector’s edition of Flaubert, the 150th Anniversary edition of The Origin of Species, and a bunch of P.G. Wodehouse’s best works have been my prize finds so far, and who knows how many more exist!
I like that the books aren’t arrayed by popularity (besides at a single shelf by the front desk). A couple of copies of 50 Shades of Grey lie innocuously in the ‘J’ section, perhaps mourning their luck at having ended up in such a democratic bookstore.
My favourite part about this store is that it feels like such a refuge. As someone without a car, it is difficult to forget that I live in a boisterous, loud college town. Dawn Treader transports you elsewhere, if you let yourself be guided along. And when you step out into the traffic at Liberty, you take a few moments to remember where you are.
Take a little time out of your day once, and enter the portal into a place that reminds you that you love books. What’s your favourite Ann Arbor refuge?