MICHIGAN MONDAYS | JOHN K. KING USED & RARE BOOKSTORE – A DETROIT GEM

detroit bookstore, john king books
Kathleen Kelly ruined me. The second she opened the doors to her wondrously cozy book shop in You’ve Got Mail I knew I was done for. Shop Around the Corner was, for me, the Platonic ideal of a bookstore. It embodied warmth and imagination with its checkered floor, its kid-height shelves stuffed with cheery picture books and plush stuffed animals. As an unreformed bookworm, I wanted to live there forever. It seemed tailor made for dreaming and reading. 
you've got mail bookstore, shop around the corner
Image from Hooked on Houses
Whenever I walk into a new bookstore I wonder if it will sweep me away as thoroughly as Kathleen Kelly’s fictional paradise did. I can’t say that it has happened yet but I am still hoping. Still, going into any bookstore or library has a way of making me feel like a kid in a candy store. And going into a used bookstore is infinitely more exciting. There is just so much possibility. 
john kings books detroit
Michigan’s oldest and largest used bookstore is located in the heart of Detroit. John K. King Used & Rare Books is housed in an old glove factory and is stuffed from head to toe with books.  Rows and rows of stacks. Shelves bowed under the weight of books. Miles upon miles of books. It is amazing and a little overwhelming.
detroit bookstore, john kings books
The store is so massive–four stories plus a basement for your perusing pleasure–that you could get lost in there for hours. Some of the floors are dimly lit and dusty, a little bit like being in an old fashioned library. There are step stools to reach the highest shelves and charming hand drawn maps that point to this section or that. 
detroit bookstore, john k king books
My favorite section, obviously, is just for tweens. It is a Tween Studies dream come true. 
john king books, detroit bookstore
All the books of my youth are here. Those classic hardcover Nancy Drews. The whole gang from Little House on the Prairie. The Bobbsey Twins cavort up and down the aisles. Books glorying Boy Scouts,  Motor Girls, and general youthful adventures abound.
detroit bookstore, john king books

I just adore these vintage hardcovers. The simple line drawings and letterpressed bindings are fantastic. I could fill entire walls in my home with these gems. 
detroit bookstore, john king books

While John K. King Used & Rare Books is certainly not the cozy, intimate Shop Around the Corner, it is one of my favorite places in Detroit. Because when you find your own little spot by a window and open up an old favorite, it feels a little bit like how I imagine Kathleen Kelly’s glorious shop must. The whole place has that lovely old book feel. Worn in and comfortable. A little frayed around the edges. A place worth knowing. 
detroit bookstore, john king books

Doesn’t all this talk about bookshops make you want to cozy up with a really good book? I’m thinking about cracking open an old favorite like The History of Love or Anne of Green Gables. 
For more Detroit gems, check out our adventures in Corktown or the Heidelberg Project


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