Mike is currently our bookseller at large—while he's seldom in the store (except as a customer himself!) he's still providing his wisdom from afar when it comes to recommending poetry, quirky literature in translation, and more!
Tell us a bit about yourself
I've always been into books and stories starting when my mom, sis, and I would visit the library when it was on 6th Street to ordering from the Scholastic book catalogue to Battle of the Books at East Bay Elementary (City Champs 1986!) to getting an English degree. As a writer I'm committed to poetry, flexing that muscle almost everyday, although I am pecking away at YA fiction story about bugs. When I'm not in Book World at home, Brilliant, or the TC Library, I can be found riding my bike out in Old Mission and Leelanau, running in the woods, learning Spanish, wrenching on bikes, and trying to convince my Siamese cat that he actually does have food in his bowl.
What are the five books you’ll never part with?
Just five?! That's impossible:
Tell us about meeting a favorite author
During a literature festival in Denver I and a few other midnight owls got to drink wine and schmooze with the poet Ada Limon on the porch of a beautiful victorian mansion. She was delightful and engaging! (And her poetry is both grounded and moving).
Top five most interesting things about you
1) Worked 6 months at a Dude Ranch in southern Arizona. Best. Winter. Ever.
2) In 2019, I biked from Traverse City to Maine through Canada on a 1987 steel framed frankenbike. Only 3 hrs of rain the whole two weeks and no flats!
3) I'm a snowshoe racing All American though for some odd reason there's been no financial windfall because of it.
4) Although I can juggle, I can't ride a unicycle, so I'll never be a clown.
5) I once completed the NaNoWrMo challenge (writing 50k words in 30 days) and it made me slightly crackers during the process.
What makes for a good bookstore, in your opinion?
Really good bookstores commit themselves to fulfilling a specific need, accommodating all readers, carrying what’s in demand, but, more importantly, defining who they are by what else they offer. Does it have used literary fiction and comics + zines? Is it the heart and soul of a city? Was it a gathering spot for a counter culture revolution? Does it provide a highly curated selection of books picked by a knowledgeable staff with the intention of developing customers' literary lives? An engaged staff and owner who build intention within their work can make for an amazing bookstore experience.
If you weren’t a bookseller, what would you be doing instead?
If given complete freedom, I’d bike tour Northern California to Vancouver Island, taking my time, camping, reading, exploring, and being a general bike vagabond.
Reading A Sand Book is a vivid experience, like watching a poet run down a staircase of knives while holding a full glass of water and not spilling a drop: this controlled chaos leaves bloody footprints on your mind/heart/soul. Ariana’s style is both intimate and free flowing, drawing you into her landscape, whispering all of her secrets into your ear, and revealing a poet overflowing with intensity:
“Bring me my gold
My serpent my rod
Pour hot gold into my teeth
Bind my silver tongue
Soak it in soft white gold
And unbind my tongue Jupiter
And loose it on the world” [excerpt from A Sand Book]