Notes From a Public Typewriter

By Michael Gustafson

Design by Oliver Uberti

ISBN:  9781538729113


Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro


When Michael Gustafson and his wife Hilary opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page? Yes, no, and did they ever.

Everyday, people of all ages sit down at the public typewriter. Children perch atop grandparents’ knees, both sets of hands hovering above the metal keys: I LOVE YOU. Others walk in alone on Friday nights and confess their hopes: I will find someone someday. And some leave funny asides for the next person who sits down: I dislike people, misanthropes, irony, and ellipses … and lists too.

In NOTES FROM A PUBLIC TYPEWRITER Michael and designer Oliver Uberti have combined their favorite notes with essays and photos to create an ode to community and the written word that will surprise, delight, and inspire.


When I chose Notes from a Public Typewriter from the OBS review list, I expected to like it. I like all the books I read, whether they have a bad ending or a happy one, they are always a good read, but this book I just loved. And not just me. I took this book to college to read between breaks and friends that picked it up and read through its pages out of curiosity, loved it as well. Notes from a Public Typewriter is a book they could relate to. The notes left by ordinary people like me, like them felt as if they new that someone would find these notes, read them, and say I know what you’re going through. I understand you.

Notes from a Public Typewriter is written by people that walked into Literati Bookstore, edited by Michael Gustafson, and designed by Oliver Uberti, together they put a wonderful book with notes of joy, laughter, sadness, and every form of emotion they could convey. The book narrates how the typewriter and bookstore came to be, followed by the first note typed, the events born because of the typewriter, such as wedding proposals and friendship of mythical creatures, and a beautiful ending note from the editor.

Some of the notes made me laugh, like: “My mom used to be a mime…” some made me teary eyed: “Please know you were loved…” and other notes that became something more, I will remember: “PS I want to be you for Halloween”.

The book has a good reading pace. You can probably read it in a sitting or a day and then feel very refreshed. There’s photographs of the bookstore, notes, and typewriters to go along with the notes in which you can see the people that have left messages behind for others to read throughout the years since the bookstore opened.

If there is something that I learned from Notes from a Public Typewriter is that can sometimes be shy at expressing themselves to others, but give them a white piece of paper and something to write with and wonderful thoughts will be written. If you haven’t yet, I recommend you read Notes from a Public Typewriter and visit your local indie bookstore, maybe they have a typewriter waiting for you.


*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*