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What is YOUR favorite Chicago used bookstore? November 9, 2011

With the closing of Borders, it’s starting to seem like there are more used bookstores in Chicago than first-hand bookstores. Certainly used bookstores ARE “green” — keeping paper out of landfills — and are exemplars of recycling — paper, of course, but ideas and images too. I love prowling through used bookstores. Do you? 

There are SOME used bookstores I haven’t visited, but I think of every used bookstore as an adventure. Who knows what you’ll find? With used bookstores, finding is as exciting as owning. The search is as exciting as the reading.

I do have favorite used bookstores. Perhaps my favorite is Bookworks, 3444 N. Clark. Open late, and with an emphasis on culture, Bookworks is always an enjoyable place to prowl. Their book turnover is one of the fastest in Chicago, so there are often new books to choose from.  Bookleggers, at 2907 N. Broadway is clean and well organized. O’Gara & Wilson, in Hyde Park at 1448 East 57th St., reflects the academic tastes of its neighborhood. Books are older, and often more exotic in subject.

There are two used bookstores in the Loop: Selected Works, in the Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan, is famous for Haj, the haughty and noble gray cat who patrols the shelves and is known to attack socks on occasion; and Afterwords, at 23 E. Illinois, next to the Jazz Record Mart. Afterwords has an excellent children’s section and a large general selection.

One source close to DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus should not be forgotten: the White Elephant resale shop of Children’s Memorial Hospital at the corner of Halsted and Fullerton. This is an active store! With it’s large customer base, merchandise of all kinds is constantly coming in and going out. Books are an important category of merchandise there, and it can be worthwhile to return often.

For me, condition is an important factor in the value of a book. Used bookstores are like time machines, taking us back — sometimes WAY back — and a well preserved, wonderful book is like a portal to an adventure in time.

Do you enjoy prowling around used bookstores? What stores are your favorites?


One Response to “What is YOUR favorite Chicago used bookstore?”

  1. Joe Olivier Says:

    My favorite Chicago used bookstore is Ravenswood Used Books. I am always able to find a good book there. The owner is a bit eccentric and the space is quite limited, but the supply of quality titles is bountiful. It’s located near the Davis Theatre on Lincoln Ave. You can catch a matinee for $5.50 and go to the bookstore afterwards, both of which make for an afternoon well-spent.

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