Summer in South Bend: Books

Reading a book is one of the great forms of leisure. Reading for enjoyment is an activity that has little tangible utility. It adds nothing to your resume nor does it impress admissions committees, and, unless you are very fortunate, no one will pay you to read a book for the delight of it. But of course, that’s not what leisure is about anyway. Reading feeds the soul and the mind. Good stories tell the truth about human beings and the world in which they live. They hold up a mirror in which we glimpse our own selves.

Now, if there’s one thing that is sure to attract a swarm of graduate students, it’s good prices on good books. Nowadays, most of us purchase our books online. But for the literary at heart, there is still no place like a comfortable, creaky local bookshop for whiling away those summer hours. Check out the impressive array of titles, new and used, available at these shops in South Bend.

Griffon Bookstore
121 W. Colfax Ave
South Bend, IN 46601

Located in downtown South Bend, Griffon’s is a bookstore like no other. They sell books, of course: new books on the ground floor, ranging from paperbacks to leather-bound and illustrated classics, and used books in the basement. Their selections include literature, philosophy, history, and poetry, not to mention a discounted paperback section. But their specialty, broadly speaking, is leisure. Along with books, Griffon’s sells a wide selection of card and board games, especially of the strategy, fantasy, and history varieties. On their shelves, you’ll find such popular titles as Settlers of Catan and Seven Wonders, as well as full lines from small game manufacturers like Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder. Many of their games are less commonly available in larger retail stores, and a number have received game of the year awards from around the world. The establishment also maintains several gaming rooms available for reservation over the weekends, free of charge, and for those who are interested, they host regular gaming events throughout the year.

Not a gamer? Not a problem. They also sell used vinyl records, paper dolls, and all sorts of plastic models. Ask the proprietor to show you around.

Idle Hours Bookstore
212 S. Michigan St.
South Bend, IN 46601

This little bookstore is also located downtown, two blocks south of Griffon’s, and it is worthy of a place on a cobbled street in Europe. Idle Hours carries an excellent collection of used literature, including classics and children’s, as well as theology, history, poetry, and biography. For those who are curious, they even have a section on local history. The store may be small, but the books they keep in stock are well worth perusing. If you are searching for one title in particular, you may not find it here, but ask the owners what sort of book you are looking for, and they will be sure to show you something worth your time.

Erasmus Books
1027 E. Wayne St.
South Bend, IN 46617

On the other side of the river, you’ll find Erasmus Books, located in an old house and established by an emeritus professor of theology at Notre Dame. Once again, you will find used books of nearly any sort here, though the selections in theology, philosophy, and literature are especially extensive. The house is quiet and charming, and, although it is packed full of books, it’s not difficult to find your way around. If you are a bookworm, then this is the bookshop you’ve been looking for. Note that the store is only open Thursday through Sunday in the afternoons.

 

Finally, don’t forget about South Bend’s St. Joseph County Public Library! Check their website for family events and drop in to get your free library card and peruse their collection.

Summer in South Bend: The Movies

Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good summer film? The smell of fresh popcorn and the cool, dark theater; the mindless action flick or the compelling, heartfelt drama: what better way to spend a few hours on a lazy summer day? As we all know, however, there is something a little gut-wrenching about forking over $40 for a pair of tickets and concessions to boot. Suddenly, being a member of the cinema cognoscenti seems much less appealing.

But, fortunately for you, going out to the movies in South Bend need not be so pricey. Here are some options to consider:

Cinemark Movies 14
910 W. Edison Rd.
Mishawaka, IN 46545

If you prefer to watch your movies in a milieu of opulence, then look no further than Cinemark 14. Here, every seat is a first-class luxury recliner, and with plenty of leg room in every row, this theater sets the standard for comfort among Michiana film-goers. But added amenity need not entail added cost! Here, a regular, full-price movie ticket will cost you $8.25. Attend a matinee for a dollar less, or, if you’re an early bird, see the first show of the day for a mere $5.40. Buy any ticket at the theater and show the cashier your student ID, and you’ll pay $6.80 (unless, of course, you splurge for 3-D). The best news? Tuesday is discount day: all day long, regular tickets are $5.25. Not bad for the most comfortable cinematic experience in the South Bend area. Check their website for special screenings of classic films and live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Wonderland Cinema
402 N. Front St.
Niles, MI 49120

If you don’t hesitate to sacrifice a little convenience for the sake of saving a lot of cash (and at graduate school, you’re in good company!), then Wonderland Cinema, just across the Michigan border, is the theater for you. Located in charming downtown Niles, about 20 minutes north of Notre Dame, this theater may not win points for architectural beauty or interior design, but it does sell tickets at rock-bottom prices. Evening tickets are only $5.00 apiece, and between noon and 5 pm, that price drops to $4.00. But come to a show before noon, and you will pay a mere $2.50 for your seat (though 3-D, as always, will be slightly more expensive). Most concessions, moreover, including corn dogs, pretzels, and candy, sell for less than $3.00. Better still, the theater sells large, refillable popcorn buckets. You’ll pay $3.00 for the bucket and the initial fill; then, Monday through Wednesday, you can refill it for only $0.50, while on Thursday, refills are free (no buckets allowed on Friday through Sunday). With the exception of Redbox, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper cinematic experience anywhere else in the country.

DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

Not to be forgotten is Notre Dame’s own Performing Arts Center, complete with a comfortable THX-certified cinema. Be on the lookout for regular showings of classic, recent, and independent films, live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre in London, documentaries, and other fare. Log in with your NetID to access student ticket prices as low as $4.00 for most movie screenings (note that non-movie screenings may be more costly). Don’t forget that the DPAC also hosts various musical events and dramatic productions, including the annual Shakespeare Festival in August. Check their events calendar at the beginning of each month for an updated list of shows, starting in July.

Summer in South Bend: Relaxation and Leisure

Many graduate students find themselves in South Bend for all or part of the summer. Campus is relatively quiet and sparsely populated, providing the opportunity for hours of undisturbed research and writing in the library or in the office, as well as time to tackle that to-do list that piled up over the course of the school year.

Yet the calm of summer allows space for more than uninterrupted academic work. It is also an ideal time to relax from the tensions of the school-year, to unwind and prepare oneself for the next cycle of classes, research, and teaching. One of the great thinkers of the late Roman Empire, Augustine of Hippo, wrote, “I pray thee, spare thyself at times; for it becomes a wise person to relax the high pressure of attention to work.” (De musica ii, 15) Few better exemplars of scholarly productivity and acumen exist in history: Augustine’s surviving body of work, which remains profoundly influential, consists of more than 100 books, over 200 letters, and nearly 400 sermons, many of which he composed while serving as a bishop, a position that involved numerous religious and civil responsibilities. Yet he also believed in the need for leisure.

Indeed, leisure is one of the most human of activities. A requisite for flourishing as a person, leisure affirms that human life has worth apart from productivity. In other words, we need not always be “accomplishing,” whatever the social or professional pressures we experience, nor feel guilty about using time to do what has no clear utility. To work without ceasing saps the vitality of joy, which is the heart of the good life. As another ancient teacher once wrote, “Of the making of many books there is no end, and in much study there is weariness for the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 NABRE)

This being so, Ask the Salmon will feature various activities and opportunities for fun throughout the months of June and July with graduate students in mind. Check back regularly for new posts and, as always, feel free to Ask the Salmon questions about Notre Dame or graduate student life by e-mailing gradlife@nd.edu.