From Underground Wonders to True Crime, Detroit’s Source Booksellers Highlights Summer Reads

A few good reads for your summer wind down.

Reading makes us stop and pay attention to what’s happening in life. That’s the message expressed when talking to Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers, and Alyson Turner, event planner for the non-fiction bookstore located on Cass Avenue. 

“We read because it makes us smart,” Webster Jones says. “We read because we can slow down and take our time.”

“Someone told me once, read out loud to your partner; it’s very sexy.” – Janet Webster Jones, Source Booksellers

LaToya Cross
LaToya Cross

Webster Jones has serviced the reading community for 30 years, exposing fiction aficionados to the wonders of non-fiction through a vast selection of unique reads, store events and in-depth author talks, organized by Turner. 

“Our rule at the store is [read] three pages every day. But in the summertime, you find yourself with a little bit more time, you can read five pages a day,” Webster Jones says. “Reading is so valuable and it’s a relational experience as well. Someone told me once, read out loud to your partner; it’s very sexy.”

Celebrating 30 years of being a reader’s playground, we invited Source to share their summer reading list with CultureShift. 

Click the player above to hear Source Booksellers summer read recommendations, or see them below.

1. “Underland” by Robert MacFarlane

Non-fiction, 496 pages. 

Good for: Traveling on your summer vacation

Why Janet recommends: “This is a travel book like you would never expect. This book talks about things that are underneath our feet. There’s three major chapters, ‘Seeing,’ ‘Hiding,’ and ‘Haunting.’ She’s in a space where underground there’s burial, dark matter, the under story of what’s going on. He talks about the catacombs, old pictographs in caves, the subways. I would say its imaginative nonfiction, because some of these places you’re not going to find.

The deep journey in time is what’s so fascinating about the idea of travel. When we think about time, we want to think about things we have to do in a hurry. But this deep time composes a life that we don’t know anything about.” 


2. “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead 

Historical Fiction, 224 pages.

Good for: History buffs who appreciate lyrical prose from an award-winning author.

Why Janet recommends: “This is a novel. Even though we are a non-fiction book store, we have a great respect for the novelist that really takes to the interior minds of people. In this book, he talks about these children who were taken to a reform school in Tallahassee, Fla. He makes it into a novel because the raw facts and material is very hard to take. This was a reform school for boys and for orphans. These little black children were really treated so poorly, they found remnants of their bodies. In 2011, it was just closed. He brings us right up to now.”


3. “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Non-fiction, 304 pages

Good for: Fans of the podcast “My Favorite Murder” or true crime

Why Alyson recommends: “This book is a little different. It’s where true crime and self-help come together to create their dual memoir. It’s funny, because they’re funny, and candid, so you learn a lot about them as people if you are a fan of the podcast. Or even if you’re not, if you’re just interested in true crime then there’s a lot to take from this.”