In honor of Read Aloud Day, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and the fact that I want my 5 month old son to love books if at all possible, the whole family headed down to Open Books this past weekend for Dr. Seuss day, which was a day of crafts, story time, face painting, cake, and celebrating the wonder of getting the little ones to read, which no one did quite as well as Dr. Seuss.
Now, my son is too young for activities, but we took him down for storytime with Storybook Mom. The event was packed, but we found a little room for kiddo to stand on the arm of a couch He took in the action and bounced up and down, so we’re guessing he enjoyed it. Storybook Mom was great, and seemed unperturbed by the mounds of children all over the place — including on her! Happily, she read my favorite Seuss book – “I can read with my eyes shut.” (We didn’t stay the whole time, as he got a lil overwhelmed, but soon got a lot happier once we took him to a quieter corner of the store.)
(Also, a milestone: He got his first balloon. This was tremendously exciting, and a real focus-stealer.)
Open Books is simply an amazing store – my absolute favorite in Chicago, if not anywhere. They carry a huge array of gently-used books on every topic, and all proceeds go to literacy programs. I peruse there whenever I can, and they’ve been the source of a huge amount of my (and my son’s) libraries. Kiddo and I will be heading there again tomorrow for another World Read Aloud event — Storytime and a Bake Sale! Books and baked goods? Please. Of course I’m going.
I’ve been a big fan of the book since I read it in elementary school, but I’d never actually read “A Wind in the Door,” the sequel/companion to the original book. During a recent trip to Open Books, I picked up a copy. (For $2.50! Holler.)
In “A Wind in the Door,” published ten years after the original book, Meg Murray, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and neighbor (and Meg’s now kinda boyfriend?) Calvin O’Keefe are back for another magical but science-based adventure. This time, Charles Wallace is being bullied at school and has fallen ill with some mysterious illness. He’s also claiming to have seen dragons in the backyard. Meg’s genius scientist mother has been working on a theory involving things happening inside of mitochondria, and it seems to be somehow related to what’s happening to Charles Wallace. Meanwhile, the world is being erased by evil beings called the Echthroi, who seek to Un-Name things. It’s up to Meg and Calvin (and a gaggle of interesting new characters – including a snake, a tall man in a robe, a cherub, and a principal) to save Charles Wallace before it’s too late.
L’Engle’s “Time Quintet” has always been heavy on the science and magic, and “A Wind in the Door” is no exception. There’s a lot going on this book, but – just like in “A Wrinkle in Time” – L’Engle holds it together thanks to the characters she’s rested all the details on the shoulders of. In particular, Meg’s relationship with Mr. Jenkins (Charles Wallace’s principal) is well-developed. Meg originally resents Mr. Jenkins for not taking any action regarding Charles Wallace’s bullying – but of course Mr. Jenkins’ fate rests in Meg’s hands. It’s an interesting lesson in growing up.
To celebrate the anniversary of this amazing writer and her beloved characters, pick up “A Wind in the Door” and revisit some old friends. Or, if you’ve never read “A Wrinkle in Time,” start there. You won’t regret it.
The whole darn family – myself, my husband, my baby, and my Mom – headed to Open Books this morning to donate some books (which earns you a coupon, by the by) as well as to do some shopping. We found some great books in great condition at fantastic prices, proving once again why I think Open Books is the best used bookstore in Chicago. If you haven’t made the trip yet, you’re missing out. Seriously.
So when I found a copy of Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp’s 2004 “The Book Club Cookbook” for half-price at Chicago’s best used bookstore, Open Books, I was intrigued and bought it.
And then it sat in my pile of “things to read” for a while.
And then one day I decided that this blog was/is woefully lacking in cookbooks — and it all seemed to fall into place.
“The Book Club Cookbook” is a collection of over 75 recipes created to go along with books – from classic to contemporary - read by book clubs. Some are recipes of foods actually made within the book, and some are simply inspired by the setting or time period for the book. For example, there’s a recipe for Mojitos to correlate with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera,” while J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is represented by a recipe for Treacle Tarts, which are actually mentioned in the book. (Don’t think for a second that I won’t be trying the chocolate/rum fondue from “Chocolat” at some point, either.) Other books with recipes include “The Great Gatsby” (Mint Juleps of course,) “The Perfect Storm” (Swordfish kebobs, knock yourselves out), and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Some Southern-inspired ambrosia.)
I decided to try out one of the recipes, because that’s how I roll. My only rule was that the recipe I chose had to be based on a book I’ve actually read, so I selected “Griet’s Vegetable Soup,” inspired by Tracy Chevalier’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” which I read a bunch of years ago. (Sound familiar? The book was made into a movie starring Scarlett Johannsen and a pre-Academy Award Colin Firth.) I was charmed by the recipe’s introduction, in which Chevalier herself decides to try and make the soup she’s written about, and (very pregnant) winds up nauseated. No worries, Gelman and Levy Krupp have adapted a vegetable soup recipe from a Belgian cookbook.
The soup – made of bacon, chicken stock, cabbage, turnips, leeks, and onions – was pretty easy to make (as it really just requires a bunch of chopping), turned out delicious, and I’m definitely going to make it again. We had it with fresh-baked rye bread and a winter lager, and it was pretty darn super.
So, of course, my husband and I made the trip down to Chicago & Franklin for the Open Books Sidewalk Sale on Saturday.
We were not disappointed.
In fact, after the experience, I have to say that from this day forth I shall refer to Open Books as my favorite used bookstore in Chicago.
I’d been a tad worried that the previous nights thunderstorms would stop the sale, but by morning the storm had given way to a warm and dry day. We arrived just as the sale was beginning, and volunteers were still loading boxes of books onto tables set up outside the store. From the very start, we started finding books we wanted, and began our pile. There were childrens books by the score, as well as a huge amount of classic and contemporary fiction – all at great prices. ($1 for childrens, $2 for paperback, and $3 for hardcover.)
Having exhausted the sidewalk sale (and being just a tad over a couple super-pushy shoppers, one of whom actually forced her way between Eric and I to get to a box of books under a table we were looking at. Like, we were shoulder to shoulder and this girl shoved her way in there and then stayed) we ventured into the store and were simply delighted.
After all, how many bookstores have a fireplace lounge?
Of course I took a break. I’m pregnant. Duh.
In addition to the store’s massive selection of used books in good to great condition, things are arranged in a variety of genres – From fiction to mystery, there’s a section for everyone. The “Chick Lit” section made me laugh, and I agreed with all the books grouped under that title. (FYI – In case you care – like any used bookstore, you’ll find plenty of copies of “Twilight,” “Eat, Pray, Love,” “The Kite Runner,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.” We just stopped counting.)
There’s also a pretty swoon-worthy rare/collectors rack, which included some Roald Dahl first editions as well as Dante’s “Inferno” among other rarities and pretties.
I spent a great deal of time in the childrens area, which looks like a kindergarten classroom. The sheer amount of books for kids is amazing and something I’ve discovered as of late. Our child is going to have an awesome library before they’re even born.
Our grand total = 14 books (and a cute Open Books tote bag) for $46.00.
- What to Expect the First Year, 2nd edition
- Johnathan Strange
- The Lovely Bones
- Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
- The Book of Lost Things
- The Beauty School of Kabul
- The Book Club Cookbook
- Kids Books: An Illustrated “Around the World in 80 Days,” a Sesame Street book called “When’s my Birthday?,” “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “Hop on Pop,” “Frog and Toad Together” and “Little Boy.”
Can I also point out that the bathroom walls are all done in that chalkboard paint and covered in writings in chalk? It’s charming and adorable. Really, that’s all I’ll say about the bathroom.
After the sale, we continued on our merry way to Michigan Avenue to meet up with friends to see “Captain America” (which, by the way, was really good) and wound up being at the same showing as George Lucas.
Yep, that George Lucas.
So, you know, that happened.
Obviously, a good day all around.
Open Books is the bomb. You should go there. What are you waiting for?