The first bookstore in our series is called Shellattés, and if you were to visit it, it might look like just a coffee shop. But do not fret! Just take a few steps past the coffee shop section (where you can place your order, chat with the baristas and sit down, if you like) and you will be in another, slightly quieter room, with a couple more tables for customers. Here you might notice a few books laying around, and you will almost surely spot a sign pointing you into a third room just to your left. Turning the corner, you will find yourself entering the used bookstore, and by some magical combination of the fluffy furniture in the room and its distance from the coffee shop, it sits in an easy silence.
I know this series is focusing on bookstores, but since the store in question also sells food and drink, I would be journalistically remiss not to mention the delicious Door County cherry baked oatmeal and iced Spicy Ginger Chai that I tasted (for the sake of giving a complete and accurate report, of course). Itʼs easy to tell that Shelly Baeten, the owner of Shellattés, has a love for books that is rivaled only by a love for good food.
“I love books, yeah, and I love cookbooks, especially,” she says, when I ask her how the bookstore came about. Gesturing around the room we sat in (a fourth room, right next to the main bookstore room), she adds, “Now my husband can never complain about me buying a cookbook, because I can find a recipe or two and move it on and share it with someone else.”
Shelly has other reasons for enjoying cookbooks, though. “If I start a book, I have to finish it,” she says. “But I can pick up a cookbook, because if I fall asleep in the middle of a chapter, in the middle of the recipe, I can easily skim back through the recipe….I still get my joy of reading in, just by short novels, short stories, and newspapers and cookbooks.”
The struggle to find time to sit down and read–or even to sit down at all–is a common one, but Shelly hopes her store helps address that problem. “I just want the world to slow down,” she says. “If you ask someone, ʻHow are you?ʼ ʻBusy.ʼ ʻHowʼs life?ʼ ʻOh, crazy.ʼ And Iʼll say the same.”
I nod, very familiar with this sort of exchange.
“I think we need to just slow down and enjoy some of the simple [things],” she continues. “You know, the socializing, a meal together, coffee together, reading a book.”
Here, you can do all of the above–and many do. Some visitors, says Shelly, “after theyʼre done visiting, [will] shop for books.” Or, if youʼre hoping for some time away for yourself, you can pick up a book, “have a coffee, read a little bit and go, ʻOkay, first chapter didnʼt interest me.ʼ Put it back on the shelf, and try another one; you can take it along home, or you can just leave it behind.” It wonʼt break the bank to take her advice, either; of the mystery, romance, historical fiction, nonfiction and cook books that I saw, almost all were less than the price of my chai.
By now, that chai was almost gone, and so were my questions. I ask her my last one, about the purpose of reading. “It broadens your horizons, and thatʼs–” Shelly pauses thoughtfully. “I like that. It just broadens your horizons, whether itʼs in a cooking field [or] if itʼs in a romantic novel….youʼre in your own world, or youʼre in the authorʼs world.” And, to put it in an even simpler way, “Itʼs just having time; itʼs more for yourself.” And if that sounds like what you need right now, Shellattés is the place to be.
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?” —Anthony Trollope, The Warden
—By Katie Nelson