Josi and Patrick Doyle have been offering customers fine, out-of-print, old and rare books at Idle Hours Bookshop in South Bend for the past 14 years. Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Reading away the Idle Hours

Published 4:24pm Monday, March 26, 2012

SOUTH BEND — When Patrick Doyle was 10 years old he read the novel “The Day the Red Baron Died” by author Dale Titler.

Doyle was so captivated by the book that he began writing letters to Titler. Doyle would ask Titler questions like, “what color was the Red Baron’s plane?”

To Doyle’s surprise, Titler would write him back.

Doyle thought it was the coolest thing ever.

“He (Titler) was very generous with his time, considering I was just a pesky little kid interested in what he was writing about,” Doyle said. “I still have all of the letters he wrote back.”

Doyle’s love of reading followed him to adulthood. For the past 14 years, Doyle and his wife, Josi, have owned and operated Idle Hours Bookshop in South Bend.

The cozy downtown shop is lined with hundreds of used and rare books difficult to find anywhere else. They offer a wide selection, including general fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, art, history, religion and children’s books.

“An advantage of the Idle Hours Book Shop versus a large box store is the selection,” Patrick said. “While the current bestseller is readily available at a big box retailer, something out-of-print or obscure isn’t. However, something out-of-print or obscure is exactly what the Idle Hours Bookshop has to offer.”

Patrick comes from a family of readers and writers and was raised in an environment of books.

His mother wrote children’s books and his father studied journalism in college. Patrick’s brother is a published author (“Sherlock Holmes for Dummies”) and owns a book publishing company, Wessex Press.

Patrick believed it was important to bring his family’s love of reading to South Bend.

“I love cities. I love South Bend and to me the benchmark of a good city is its bookstores,” he said. “I wanted to contribute toward that. I thought I could add to the fabric of the city.”

Idle Hours is family owned and operated. Patrick’s dad, Tom Doyle, runs the store during the day, while Patrick and Josi can be found there most evenings.

Idle Hours is a labor of love for the Doyles.

“I love the customers and being surround by people who enjoy being stimulated intellectually,” Josie said. “I love their comments and I like to hear them come in and say ‘this place is great’ because I know how hard Patrick has worked to develop it.”

Patrick said they have a lot of regular customers keeping a close eye on the new books that come in. They also get a lot of traffic from people coming into town for Notre Dame games.

“Big city people tend to appreciate us the most,” Patrick said. “Oddly enough, we get a lot of people that have lived in New York City and they make point of letting us know that.”

Idle Hours hosts book signings by Indiana authors throughout the summer and fall and hosts literary clubs in the evenings.

It is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Idle Hours is located at 212. S. Michigan St.

Idle Hours can be reached by email at idhours@aol.com, by phone at (574) 234-3860 or online at idlehoursbookshop.com.

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