A Visit from the Literati Squad

by K.M. Zahrt

This past Saturday, the wife, the boy, and I were set to make a trip to the Ann Arbor. We had yet another first birthday party on the family schedule. These days, two out of every three Facebook pictures on our feeds feature kids of our friends and family members. Likewise, two out of every three weekends now feature kid functions. It’s that season in our lives.

A few years back, we lived in the A2 area. It’d been a while since we’d visited, and it’d been too long since we’d seen the parents of the birthday girl, so we were ready to make the most of the trip. We arrived early to do some shopping downtown. There was one stop in particular I wanted to make: to the new (new since we lived there, not new for about year now) Literati Bookstore.

Whoa, Literati Bookstore? I know what you’re thinking. That sounds highfalutin. Well, friends, do we have time for the scenic view around by way of the Etymology Road? I should think so! A quick search of “literati” at ye ole reliable, Online Etymology Dictionary, yielded the following result:

literati (n.) ‘men and women of letters; the learned class as a whole,’ 1620s, from Latin literati/litterati, plural of literatus/litteratus ‘lettered’ (see literate). The proper singular would be literatus, though Italian literato (1704) sometimes is used.”

For you of the learned class, don’t feel too glamorous yet. And, for you others, don’t worry; I found an entry here for you too:

glitterati (n.) 1956, from glitter, with a play on literati.”

Now, as our litera-historical detour comes to an end (and, yes, I’ll expect to be cited as originator of such a term), I believe we can all be satisfied that we’ve learnt something useful. Yes?

Literati 1

Literati Bookstore bags double as bookmarks.

Back to the matter at hand: What the Dickens is the Literati Bookstore? According to the About Us page on their website, “We are a new independent bookstore opening in downtown Ann Arbor. We moved here in the hopes of adding and enhancing the vibrant downtown culture and arts scene. We aim to be a place where book lovers can go, talk, and interact with each other.”

As a self-identified book lover myself, and a self-doubting literatus, I resolved to find out firsthand whether or not this place served my interests, and I’m proud to report, friends, their name is appropriate and their mission has been accomplished. The Literati Bookstore is an elite independent operation with all of the bells and whistles, which certainly enhances the downtown experience. It has a thorough, well-researched selection with a nice mix of classic, mainstream, local, and independently published titles. It has a clean, bookish atmosphere. It is a true service to men and women of letters of all ages and interests.

Their 100% recyclable paper bags even come with bookmark cutouts with the message: “For those who can’t read just one book at a time.” They got me pegged. I have four books going as I write this post, including the two I purchased at Literati from my 2014 Summer Reading List:

One final note, the title of my post today comes from Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad — a reading selection you’ll no doubt find on many literati bookshelves.


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