Bookman’s Corner

Bookman’s Corner (Used Books)
2959 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
East Lakeview Neighborhood
Mon-Sat: 1pm-7pm
Sunday: 1pm-6pm 

Location+Feel

Bookman’s Corner is located in the fast-paced East Lakeview Neighborhood. It is approximately 3 blocks away from the Wellington Brown Line Stop. Situated on a quiet corner across the street from a Binny’s and a card shop, Bookman’s Corner can almost go unnoticed if passed too quickly. There is no sign that denotes it as “Bookman’s,” rather there lays a simple but clever motto painted on the window front, “Books Rare, Medium, and Well Done.” Immediately when you walk in it’s quite overwhelming. Book stacks as high the ceiling, leather books lining the floor, and the unrelenting smell of musty literature is the first thing I noticed as I walked through the door. Behind the first stack of books that range from Doris Day to D-Day sat a man on stool with his glasses drooped to the book in front of him. The man directed me to section I am looking for (Urban Fantasy Novels). And what do you know? There was a section for that! As I perused the store, I took in the full feel of the sacred bookstore. The ground was donned with porcelain tiles with small flowers blooming out of each tile. The room was warm. It felt smaller than it actually was, as I found myself finding secret ways to get to the next shelf across the room. The customer next to me was perched on a ladder trying to reach a copy of a famous Whitman novel. I almost fell over several times trying to traverse the piles of books that litter the ground. I was lost. But the good thing was the man at the front was always a shout away to find anything I was looking for. This bookstore, in no fancy way to say, was awesome.

Book Display

In all the chaos of the scattered books, towering displays, and rackety ladders, there is order. In the modest nature of this bookstore I expected no less than to see white masking tape stuck to each shelf denoting what section I was in. Written in black sharpie, each piece of tape represented the books that surrounded it. “Medical” “Nature” “Russia” “Chicago” “Romance” “Urban Fantasy” “Mysticism.” The list of genres was endless. There was no directory at the front so as I said before don’t be afraid to ask the book worm in the front! While it not as pretty and organized as newer bookstores, it makes it enjoyable to just to look for a book.

Parting Thoughts

This bookstore is not for people who enjoy the comforts and amenities of the neighborhood Barnes and Noble. It is not good-looking on the surface but what it contains on the inside is magical. It is for readers who like to get down in the dirt (not literally) and search for what they want to read. With a wide set of genres, it is good for anybody who is looking for that obscure read. While overwhelming at first, the feel of this bookstore is inviting. I urge everyone to make their way down to Clark Street and lose themselves in the stacks of Bookman’s Corner.

Unabridged Bookstore

Unabridged Bookstore (New and Sale Books)

3251 N. Broadway Chicago, IL. 60657
Lakeview Neighborhood
Mon. – Fri. 10am – 9pm
Sat. – Sun. 10am – 7pm
unabridged@nullunabridgedbookstore.com

Location + Feel:
Unabridged Books is lovely jewel located on a vibrant street in the Lakeview neighborhood. One of the most impressive facets of the store is the expansive and wonderful children’s nook, which is so colorful and delightful. Picture books are strewn from place to place and the drawings on the wall exude undeniable warmth. Simply put, my inner child came out upon seeing this place!
Since I visited the store in February, there was a smart section devoted to Black History Month. I am sure as the months progress, that particular section will fluctuate in theme. Unabridged Books is predominantly a sale books and new books establishment and one of the only bookstores that has current and updated magazines. I was particularly surprised by the extremely large gay/erotica section as it does not seem to hide in an inconspicuous corner. Rather, it is settled in one of the major middle sections, perhaps an omen to what the store is all about: diversity! There is a Classics corner, a vast array of Penguin Classics books, and a large basement/lower level section containing books on travel. My overall impression is that Unabridged is extremely organized (due to its high shelving) and vibrant (due to the use of drawings and color throughout). The friendly atmosphere exhibited by the open plan layout and the employees make this place truly one of a kind.

Book Display:
From what I could tell, it seems that Unabridged Bookstore does not necessarily cater to used books. However, they make up for that through space with variety/diversity of books. I appreciated how as I perused the store, I encountered handwritten synopses of various books from the staff themselves. I was able to get a sense of some of the most fascinating reads through those mini personalized letters. In addition, suggested books were noted through little stickers on the bookshelf edges, offering reasons to read a particular book.

Parting Thoughts:
I made a surprising discovery: The ‘Original Game of Thrones’ book is called The Iron King by author Maurice Druon. Funnily enough, George R.R. Martin, author of the currently notable Game of Thrones series, wrote an introduction to Druon’s book, praising it! Mind = blown. Thank you, Unabridged.

LitCity312 Review: Uncharted Books

Uncharted Books (Used Books)
2630 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60647
Logan Square Neighborhood 
Mon. – Fri: 1 – 9pm
Sat. + Sun: 10am – 10pm
Email: contact@nullunchartedbooks.com

 

Location + Feel
Uncharted Books is located in a rustic, almost abandoned looking corner in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, directly across from the Logan Blue Line. While the outside is immersed in various sorts of graffiti, from the moment you walk in you are immersed in a royal display of splendor. The atmosphere is certainly friendly, an ironic characteristic of the creaky wooden floors as you peruse. The aisle headers on the shelving units are taped on and handwritten, giving it an informality that’s refreshing. Toward the back end of the store, there is a bar-like counter filled with a cascaded array of books in no particular order or fashion. Against this same wall is deep blue and gold wallpaper with framed paintings hanging in the forefront. This, along with a luxurious looking purple velveteen couch, creates an atmosphere that is highly rustic and royal looking. The brick-adorned walls also offer a consistency of warmth and comfort, as if this place is merely someone’s personal library in a mansion. Toward the middle portion of the store, there is a dining room table from what looks like to be carved out of the 1920’s and near it, a gigantic wooden treasure chest with even more books scattered above it. This space appears to be nicely designed for literary readings, comfy cozy spots of relaxation. What better way to listen and appreciate story?

Book Display
As a whole, the bookstore is pretty traditional as far as its inclusion of kinds of books. Though small and huddled in a tight corner of the room, the children’s section is implied and subtle, with books scattered about, clearly not really an indication that Uncharted Books is meant for kids. Toward the back of the store, travel books make up a totally alien and separate section with the sports books having a similar fate. While the standard fiction and non-fiction genres come to fruition here, there is also a non-English language section which I appreciated. Finally, a huge Webster’s New International Dictionary sits on a podium in the middle portion of the store, in all of its thick illustrious glory: another hint of personalization in the midst of a very public place.

Parting Thoughts
Traditional yet cool. Rustic yet royal. Uncharted Books will serve anyone who likes to feel to be perusing an ancestor’s prized, personal library. From comfy seating to a friendly staff, this place is sure to suit anyone’s literary needs.

LitCity312 Review: Quimby’s Bookstore

Quimby’s Bookstore (New Books)
1854 W. North Ave Chicago, IL 60622
Wicker Park Neighborhood
Mon. – Thur: Noon – 9pm
Fri: Noon – 10pm
Sat: 11am – 10pm
Sun: Noon – 7pm
773.342.0910

 

Location + Feel
Quimby’s is a sparkling little gem on Chicago’s North Avenue in Wicker Park. Though the space itself isn’t very large, it’s decently elongated with two distinct back and front-end parts. Simply put, the atmosphere is quirky and unique from the moment you walk in. The cool, softly playing music is a nice addition to the general rhythms of the store. Throughout different points, red and green human-like statues are propped within, some with devilish, horned headpieces attached to them, and others with blotched out eyeballs. Certainly, the Halloween element is prevalent within almost every nook and cranny of the store, but in a more subtle or implied way. The store almost resembles an alley of books: not a cold, creepy alley, but rather a warm cocoon of story! Toward the back-end, a photo booth sits in a corner with a “Black and White Photos in Just 3 Minutes Sign” and a photo of Elvis Presley, something that isn’t typically seen in a bookstore. Some bright comics and paintings adorn the upper half of the brick walls while miniature statues of ducks and dolls sit atop several shelving units. There is an incredible, immediate D-I-Y vibrancy of color to Quimby’s, a trait that is refreshing and pleasant all at once.

Book Display
On the whole, Quimby’s is a comic book store, or comic-related bookstore – and simply one of its kind! The uniqueness of certain shelving/aisle headers like ‘Queerz’ and ‘Trans Oral History Project – Zine Distro’ are not difficult to ignore and not difficult to appreciate. For instance, the sale book section isn’t simply displayed as that, but rather “Insane Cheap Sale Books!!!” It is clear that there is a kind of exuberance and exaggeration going on throughout multiple levels of the store. Of course, since it is mostly a comic bookstore, 98% of the books have some sort of color or drawing element, something that is momentously different from the traditional bookstore. From photo, drawing, and music zines, to graphic novels and “Made in Chicago” displays, Quimby’s has everything and anything related to the non-traditional view of comedic culture. The ‘Quimby’s Recommendations’ section also helps with narrowing down points of interest among numerous styles of comic-related forms.

Parting Thoughts
Mod, hip, cool. The “Please turn it off, take it outside” sign adorned on a back wall is icing on the cake. Quimby’s is everything you can imagine against mainstream culture and that is why this place rocks.

 

LitCity312 Review: The Book Cellar

The Book Cellar (New Books)
4736 N Lincoln Ave #1 Chicago, IL 60625
Lincoln Square neighborhood
Mon. Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat: 10am – 10pm Tue. Sun: Noon – 6pm
773-293-2665 / Email: words@nullbookcellarinc.com

 

Location + Feel
The Book Cellar is situated in a cool, little crevice within the heart of Lincoln Square. Halloween decorations embellish the store during the October season, like black cat printouts hanging along the opening of a doorway that leads into the seating area, skeletons sitting above bookshelves and miniature-sized pumpkins adorn each table. The nicely smooth wooden ground parallels the calm atmosphere of the store, overall. Several small love seat couches are stuffed in corners as a means to sit, if even for a moment, to read a story and bask in the words. As far as the seating area and live literary area, it is quite decently sized with an array of silver chairs and tables. Adjacent to this is a bar and café where customers may order a vast array of wine, sandwiches, salads, and all kinds of cookies. Along the immediate wall near the display of magazines are full bottles of wine for sale as well, while a single, idle television rests at the forefront of the magazine wall (ironically enough, considering the setting). Behind the check-out counter, a BOOK CELLAR WINE CELLAR BOOKS sign hangs in huge block letters while enlarged posters of some front cover novels also hang in parallel. Through certain points in the store, there is dim lighting and bright spotlights, depending on the point of reference. In the immediate portion of the store, there are several red love seats behind the front window, where readers are able to bask in a slightly more intimate setting because it is slightly quieter: a tiny abyss.

Book Display
As a whole, the books here are all sparklingly new and fresh and untouched, meaning that they all mostly have a clean slate! Particularly enjoyable are the sticker signs that read “The Book Cellar Recommends…” along various shelving units within the aisles, if one is having trouble deciding what simply looks good or what is worth spending time on. Best of all, these little indiscreet notes share a personal, handwritten note from one of the staff regarding why this book or that book is awesome. In addition, there are “Danielle…[or so-and-so]…is currently reading…” notes meant to showcase what others may be interested during that particular time and if that may interest you as well. With a special aisle filled with colorful children’s books and the general trajectory of fiction and non-fiction books, anthologies, and poetry chapbooks, the “Staff Pix” section of the store is also worth a visit in order to have a kind of implied dialogue with members of the staff regarding their particular interests and how those views may or may not align with yours!

Parting Thoughts
The Book Cellar truly reminds of a wine cellar of sorts, as far as its size, but …it comes with an array of books! What could be more awesome and vintage and literary than that?

LitCity312 Review: Myopic Books

Myopic Books (Used Books)
1564 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60622
Wicker Park Neighborhood 
Mon – Sun: 9am – 11pm
773.862.4882 / Email: myopic@nullmyopicbookstore.com

 

Location + Feel
Myopic Books is quite a wonderful, little gem burrowed on Milwaukee Ave in proper Wicker Park. Some warm lighting and fans hang low from the ceiling over your head as you traverse the shelves. The small, tiny aisles parallel the soft music overhead, producing a comforting vibe to the bookstore overall. The really friendly staff helps with this as well. The floor is bumpy and at times creaky as you try to navigate. It’s not perfect, but that’s what distinctly delightful about it! A red and green staircase leads to the second and third levels of this narrow but long experience. On the top floor, there is a great wooden, carpeted area with tables and seating, a well-lit room from the natural light seeping in through the large windows. Through those windows, you can overlook Milwaukee Ave. Here, it is much quieter than on the first floor, as it provides a stellar opportunity for live literary events to take place.

Book Display
From the moment you walk in, you are immersed in thousands and thousands of used books scattered everywhere. There’s a cramped feel to the store, but it has this awesomely cool vintage DIY look. This particular also has to do with tacked-on aisle headings, instead of properly situated ones. And since there are, indeed, three levels, the bookstore seems to be a maze of fiction and non-fiction, especially since there are wooden balconies you are able to peer over from.

Parting Thoughts
On my first visit, I bought a book that was very easy to locate. Hands down, Myopic Books is one of the best bookstore experiences I’ve had. You’ll like it too!

 

LitCity312 Review: After-Words Bookstore

After-Words Bookstore (New & Used Books)
23 E. Illinois St Chicago, IL 60611
Downtown Chicago
Mon. – Thur: 10:30am – 10pm
Fri: 10:30am – 11pm
Sat: 10am – 11pm
Sun: Noon – 7pm
312-464-1110


Location + Feel
After-Words is a really great new and used bookstore. Since they play soft, quiet music, the atmosphere as a whole is comforting (as it should be!). Nestled in a rather inconspicuous, little niche next to Jazz Record Mart in the Near North Side, you’re not expecting it to be larger than it really is. All of the walls are adorned with lovely brick (what could be more Chicago than that?) and some of the columns that support part of the building are masked with graffiti, words or phrases randomly sprayed on: the perfect sentiment to express a love for literature. There are wooden desks and chairs throughout different areas, as well as several computers on the lower level. Speaking of the lower level, it is one of my favorite points of the store because there is a decently-sized open space for live-literary events, with even more desks and chairs filling that space. I also enjoy the staircase: it’s red and wooden (I have a thing for staircases.). Finally, I like the idea of using armoire-looking cases that are meant to be holding anything but books (instead of proper bookshelves) since it provides the bookstore with a slightly more rustic, antique feel.

Book Display
Serving a variety of topics and themes, from fiction to non-fiction, from children’s to Chicago-only oriented books, the bookstore as a whole seems pretty simple and straightforward to navigate, with proper headers along each aisle. On the first or main level, in the far back of the store, there is a cute, little children’s section, an array of picture books and young-adult stories. Pasted onto one of the walls on the children’s side is a neat photograph of Derrick Rose, head resting on a basketball, holding up a book: a great, Chicago-oriented, tool to encourage kids to read! The new books appear to be on the upper level of the store, while the used books are on the lower level (or basement level).

Parting Thoughts
Smart, straightforward, large and open, After-Words Books will suit anyone with any literary taste.