EVERYbody Reads and more

Everybody reads- What about you?”

There is not a more perfect welcome to a bookstore. This writing sits above a beautiful mural just outside the rear entrance to EVERYbody ReadsTriple Goddess Bookstore, and Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way. As I pulled into the parking lot of this three-in-one land of books, I knew I’d come to the right place. Not just the right location of the bookstores I was visiting, but the right place for someone passionate about books and community.“Community” is the uniting concept of these bookstores. Each one strives to fill a niche in the Lansing community that others have overlooked, and each one brings something entirely unique to the book culture of the area. If there’s a topic you need that you haven’t been able to locate anywhere else, you will be able to find it here. And while all these stores have come to one location due to economic factors beyond their control, they have all joined to become one group of people dedicated to their community.

EVERYbody Reads was started by Scott Harris when, after the death of his wife, he could not find books on grief to help him and his children through the process. He opened the kind of bookstore that caters to those topics that big box stores tend to overlook– grief, social justice, criminal justice, and more, with special attention given to children’s books that cover all of the above and so much more. There are more typical sections as well, but when looking around, you know immediately how much Scott and his partners and employees care about their immediate community.

But EVERYbody Reads isn’t the only store to inhabit this single space. Stepping just around a set of shelves led me into Triple Goddess, a metaphysical bookstore with its own unique feel. Dawn Botke-Coe and Alan Coe are the owners and operators of this little shop, and Alan was more than happy to regale me about the history of the store. They began initially as a little one-room Tarot-reading shop, owned and run by Dawn, back in 1993. And after being asked over and over why they didn’t carry any books or items on the subject or ones like it, they started Triple Goddess. There’s still a little table and chairs for Tarot readings, and plenty of herbs and other spiritual accouterments to go along with the books. Dawn and Alan have done a wonderful job making Triple Goddess really feel like a separate store. While the entire space has a very relaxed air about it, Triple Goddess truly feels peaceful.

But wait! There’s more! When you walk in through the back entrance from the parking lot, you enter into what looks like a small comic book section that leads into the larger bookstores beyond. What you’re actually walking into is Creating Heroes Stephen’s Way, a comic shop and nonprofit directed by Monica Jahner, the lovely woman behind the desk who was more than happy to tell me all about the stores I had walked into. Similar to Scott’s reason for opening EVERYbody Reads, Monica began Stephen’s Way in honor of her brother, Stephen, who passed away. She started the nonprofit to better serve her community, and help those that have fallen through the cracks of the school and criminal justice systems. By donating all profits from the comics she sells to offering community service to youth within the store itself, Monica is using books to change the lives of the young people of Lansing.

In fact, I would say all three of these stores are doing what they can to change the lives of the people in their community. There’s a lot more to a bookstore than just the next read. When I go to a new bookstore, I’m not just looking for a place to find interesting books, I’m looking for the personalities of the people who stand behind the counter. I’m looking for the passion for reading and compassion for the people that enter the store everyday. I can say for sure that I have never found a bookstore (or group of them) quite like this one. Of course, I exited with books in my arms, but I also left the store with an uplifting sense of hope and encouragement. These are people that care. Really care. And are doing something very tangible to show it. It’s not often I come home from a bookstore with anything more than new pages to read. I’m so very encouraged by Scott, Dawn, Alan, and Monica in a way that no business, small or large, has ever been able to encourage me before. Be sure to check these bookstores out. Talk to the people behind the counter. I just know they’ll inspire you, too.

Visit this great community of bookstores at 2019 E. Michigan Ave., in Lansing.

–Kim Gray

Featured in June 2019 newsletter