For the past 14 months or so, since Cherokee's only general bookstore closed its doors, It's been a veritable wasteland out there for our area's power perusers, rabid readers and other miscellaneous bibliophiles.
Luckily, on Nov. 5, the needs of those avid readers will once again be tended to as a new purveyor of the written word opened for business at its location on Main Street.
It is The Book Vine, a literary endeavor launched by Mollie and Jay Loughlin, guaranteed to assuage the withdrawal pangs of those waiting the next offerings of Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, John Grisham and other penmen of note.
For quite some time, Mollie Loughlin, a familiar face to those fans of the Cherokee Community Theater, had wanted to start a business of her own.
"I've always loved books," Mollie said. "I've been missing the Bookseller since it had closed and I felt the community really needed a new book store."
After coming into possession of the building, which was previously the location of Joyce's Shop, Mollie and Jay spent the next several months putting in some intensive remodeling labors, a project that even included restoring the front of the structure to its original look.
"We did some research at the library to discover what the building looked like years ago," Mollie said. "We also received some help on that tangent from Jim Adamson and Jim Davis."
The remodeling labors quickly became a family project that kept Mollie, Jay and their sons Nicholas, John, James and Patrick busy swinging those hammers and wielding paint brushes.
When necessary, expert craftsmen like plumbers, master carpenters and electricians were called in for the more intricate tasks.
Mike Williams of Denver, for example, came in to help Jay with the masonry on the front of the building.
As their project neared completion, Mollie began to search for a name for her new enterprise.
"I was really having a hard time coming up with a name for the book store," Mollie said. "So I picked up a dictionary and just began scanning through the pages."
"When I came to "vine," I thought it was perfect," Mollie recalled. "After all, reading books helps your thoughts and imagination grow and intertwine...just like a vine."
On Monday, the Book Vine opened for business and the latest Harry Potter adventure, Stephen King thriller and other irresistible best sellers were once again available for purchase in Cherokee.
"I opened with very little fanfare on purpose," Mollie said. "I just wanted to ease into the whole thing to feel my way along and find out just what my customers would be looking for in the way of books and other related items."
Fanfare or not, the Book Vine promises early on to be a real jewel.
Stepping across the Vine's threshold, the first thing that strikes you is the ambiance of the business.
The sunny quiet atmosphere, high ceilings and many bookshelves are reminiscent of the type of bookstore one might discover during a stroll through Greenwich Village.
At the same time, it exudes a rustic small town aura that warmly proclaims "Books Spoken Here!"
Besides the inevitable best sellers and familiar classics, the Book Vine pretty much has every other genre of literature covered, an offering that ranges from Young Adult, Music and Travel to Sports, Sci-Fi, Mystery and many, many others.
Tome tranquility is the name of the game at the Book Vine.
If you happen upon a book you think you might want to read, you can kick back and chill out in a quiet corner of the business' mezzanine as you crack the covers and decide if it's the tale you want to take home.
The mezzanine itself adds greatly to the charm of Mollie's new business. Besides supplying a great place to check out that book, the loft offers a fantastic bird's eye view of the Vine and its environs.
Besides offering a bevy of books, Mollie's new store goes even further.
With a bit of word play on Vine, (as in Fruit of the...,) Cherokee's newest book store is the location of a variety of moderately priced bottled wines which are kept in a glass-enclosed, temperature-controlled vault.
In addition, the Book Vine has plenty of other related items for sale, an inventory that includes coffee mugs, bookmarks, calendars, magazines, wooden children's games and book bags.
Launching the new business has been one big adventure for Mollie.
"It's been a whole lot like Christmas," Mollie said. "As we opened the boxes of books to stock the shelves, you just couldn't help saying 'Boy, I'd sure like to read this one!'"
"It's a wonder that I ever did get the books put away in their places."
Even now, Mollie is making plans for some special programs and activities at the Book Vine.
"In the near future," Mollie notes. "We will be having a lot of fun with a series of events, a schedule that will include children's programs, book signings and wine tasting seminars."
Which brings us around to the question: What type of books makes it to the top of the bookstore owner's preferred reading list?
Although variety is the spice of life as far as reading material is concerned, Mollie does confess to never passing up an opportunity to read a tale in the historical fiction genre of books.
She also has a particular affection for the classics, especially those written by Dickens, Hugo and the Bronte sisters, her favorite authors.
So, if the need to read happens to strike you, don't waste your time rereading the Bridges of Madison County for the third time. Instead, head on down to the Book Vine.
It's an adventure just waiting to happen.
The hours of the Book Vine are from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, on Thursdays from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m.
The Book Vine will also be open on Sundays from 1 p.m. till 5 p.m.