Manistee County residents love their books


“We giggle a lot when we hear people say, ‘Nobody reads anymore,’ and we’re like, ‘Oh really, so we’re selling all these books to imaginary people?'”

This quote came from Marian Jarvinen, a member of the Manistee County Friends of the Library, as she shared details with me about the group’s upcoming annual used book sale during the Manistee National Forest Festival. As an avid reader myself and a yearly visitor to her auction, I can only agree with Marian.

If you doubt my and Marian’s perspective on this subject, I officially invite you to stop by her book sale, which will be held July 1st and 2nd under the tents in the parking lot behind the Manistee County Library‘s main office at 95 Maple St .in Manistee and join the hundreds of others who will be there to prove the point. The two-day sale runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

You’ll also find something many of us have known personally for years: that Manistee County is full of book lovers. In this age where technology is crammed down our throats at every turn, the vast majority of people still like to kick back and relax with a good book.

What makes many of us book lovers smile is to see how children, young adults, middle-aged people and seniors still read books regularly and enjoy every minute of it.

But let’s face the facts and return to the opening line of this column, which refers to the strong love of book reading that exists in Manistee County.

Need proof? Well how about the fact that this area actively supports two wonderful bookstores in the Downton area: Happy Owl Bookstore and Anne’s Book Store. Add to this the fact that in this county we have branch libraries in Onekama, Bear Lake (Keddie-Norconk), Arcadia, Kaleva, and Wellston, all of which are widely used by the public.

If that doesn’t say all about the county’s love of book reading, then I don’t know what does.

However, it doesn’t matter what type of activity you are talking about, the need to sustain it over time is to get younger people interested in reading books. What helps in this area is that Manistee County schools do a great job promoting reading throughout the school year, including a big celebration of Reading Month in March.

One of the reasons they do this is that children without strong reading skills will struggle in all subjects in school. But it also offers these kids an activity to enjoy throughout their lives, and to me that’s pretty nice.

Learning doesn’t end when you get a diploma, and one of the best ways to succeed in this world, gain knowledge, and have pure joy is by reading a book. So never stop reading, and if you’re not, why not?

The Friends Group helps in these areas as well, as funds from their annual sales go directly back into library programs. They help buy new books, program materials, and support library programs to keep reading relevant in people’s lives.

That, my friends, is a good use of fundraiser money. Last year, the Friends Group donated $7,000 to the Summer Children’s Reading Program, which is being rolled out at all stores this year.

It’s also literally about putting their money into promoting reading. Well done Manistee County Friends of the Library.

These youngsters are like a sponge that soaks up everything during a school year, but any teacher will tell you that some of these young minds tend to “dry out” during the summer holidays. Summer reading programs of this nature will help keep these sponges receptive all summer long, and that will only help them get better when they return to school in the fall.

This year, the Friends Group also donated funds to purchase books for the Winter Storytime program, and books were distributed to the children at this storytime. When kids get their own books, it always inspires them to read more.

Their selection is so good this year that Jarvinen said if anyone would like to help with moving boxes to get things ready on the days of the sale, the group would welcome a few more volunteers. Contact Jarvinen at 231-723-5063.

But don’t limit your book purchases to just friend sales, it’s important to keep giving great support to our amazing bookstores and the businesses that sell them all year round. They need our support to keep their business strong and reading in public 12 months a year.

If you look around you will see more people than ever reading with either an e-reader or a regular book. There are many warm summer nights when I personally sit on my porch reading a book and I see several of my neighbors doing the same. So switch off your computer or television and let your imagination run wild with a good book.

As a lifelong resident, I’ve witnessed over the years people attempting to call Manistee something of a nickname like “the ‘Stee,” or names from the past like “Salt City,” “Victorian Port City,” and even “Coho Capital.” “

Who knows, if all our passions for reading stay strong, maybe we’ll be next known as The Book Lovers City? Even if that never happens, never stop reading and keep going long after I see you again on Thursday.

Ken Grabowski is the retired Associate Editor of the Manistee News Advocate, having been in the newspaper business for 36 years.


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