Blog Archives

Volunteer for the Women & Children First Used Book Sale!

Do you love sunshine, books, and Women & Children First Bookstore? Volunteers are
needed to help us during our annual used book sale (July 28 and July 29). Meet nice
people, enjoy fun in the sun, and have first pick of the goods.
Our annual Used Book Sale, a fundraiser for the Women’s Voices Fund and the bookstore,
is the last weekend of July, and we need your help to make it successful. If you have the time
and willingness to pitch in for a three-hour shift on Saturday, July 28, or Sunday, July 29, we would
really appreciate it. The work is somewhat strenuous, especially for the set up and break down shifts,
so please only volunteer if you are strong enough to carry out long folding tables and boxes and
boxes of books. The afternoon shifts will require transporting some boxes of books but mostly re-stocking
the tables and keeping them straightened up–and, of course, helping customers and selling books!
The four shifts both days are:
8:00-11:00 a.m. (set up)
11:00-3:00 p.m. and 3:00-6:00 p.m. (re-stocking, and selling books)
6:00-7:30 p.m. (break down)
For more information or to sign up, please stop by or call the store (773-769-9299)
or email


BookNerd Adventure, kinda: Bookman’s Corner


There’s a used book store a few blocks from my house.  I’ve passed it a million times, and yesterday morning I thought – “I’m out, I’ll stop in.”

Then, it occurred to me that despite the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of times I’ve seen the place, the name of it was a complete mystery to me.  I’ve been there before, and purchased books, and yet… no idea what it was called.


Thanks to Google and yelp, I am able to tell you that this unassuming storefront on the corner of Clark and Wellington is, in fact, called Bookman’s Corner.  Makes sense.

Look, it’s not a fancy place. The inside looks a bit like someone backed a truck of books up and unloaded them.  (My friend Amanda has a theory that the owners actually live in the store, since they can’t physically get out of the stacks.) It’s real cramped and not the cleanest of places, so the claustrophobic and germophobic would do well to stay away.

However, they’ve certainly got books.  And they’re cheap, too.  You’re almost guaranteed to find something you’ll like for only a few bucks.

Also, there’s often a box of free books outside the store during closed hours.  I’ve seen this box, yet never partaken of it.  The yelp commenters seem to like it.


BookNerdontheroad: Burke’s Book Store (Memphis, TN)

While in Memphis, you’ll see a couple Barnes & Noble stores.  If you dig a little deeper, and venture into the more neighborhood-y areas of Memphis, you might find yourself lucky enough to come across Burke’s Book Store, a new and used bookstore which has been in business since 1875.  Burke’s is located in the Mid-Town area of Memphis, which would absolutely be where I would live if I lived in Memphis.  (Chicago people, think Roscoe Village.)  I was completely charmed by this store, and think you should be too.

BookNerdontheroad: Bookpeople (Austin, TX)

Oh, how I love this place.

I’d heard it was the best bookstore in Texas… but thanks to it’s awesome lay-out, clever displays, fun events, cafe, friendly staff, and just overall incredible selection of books, I actually think it might win best bookstore anywhere.

Here are some photos to help further explain my new bookstore crush.

Christopher Moore @ Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee, WI)

I adore Christopher Moore.

In fact, I’d go as far as to call him my favorite living author.

My first discovery of his works was purely by accident — In a train station, in need of something to get me through a 3 hour Amtrak ride,  my eyes fell upon the cover to “A Dirty Job,” which I bought, and reader/author love was born.

SO!  Mr. Moore has a new book out – “Sacre Bleu” – and Chicago wasn’t originally a part of his tour itinerary.  This made me sad.  Then, my husband and I discovered that he had a Milwaukee stop on my birthday, and a mini road trip in the name of book-nerd-iness was born.

Off we headed to the land of beer and cheese.

Boswell Book Company, the Milwaukee store that hosted the event, is wonderful.  Staffed by book nerds, the shelves are packed with all kinds of great reads.  The children’s section is adorable, there’s a bunch of travel books, and hey — it’s connected to a Starbucks.  Basically, they had me at hello.

Milwaukee folk love Christopher Moore, apparently. The event was full, and the crowd was fun and receptive.  The Author Guy himself was a blast to listen to — silly, political, and smart.  He even came out about fifteen minutes before the event and wandered through the assembled crowd, seeing how far everyone had come from.  (The winners got audiobooks — I think of “Lamb.”)

Pre-talk wandering amongst his people.

Here’s what I learned:

Among his favorite characters, Rivera (the put-upon cop) ranks pretty high.

Harvard Divinity is teaching “Lamb,” which gets way less angry letters from religious people than you’d expect.

What’s he working on now?  Another book involving Pocket from “Fool,” only this time put into the combined context of “Othello” and “The Merchant of Venice.” (He’d also like to do a sequel to “A Dirty Job,” which might include the return of one of his most beloved characters, Abby Normal – the inspiration for whom came from goth kids Moore saw on the bus, and their subsequent Myspace blogs.)

Mostly, he was there to talk about his newest (#3 New York Times bestselling) book, “Sacre Bleu,” which takes the reader back in time to the events surrounding Van Gogh’s death and the Impressionist artists of the world surrounding him.  It’s a novel about the color blue, and I’m currently about 40% of the way through reading it, so I can say it’s quite good — if a slight departure from the silly absurdity of some of Moore’s other works.  It’s a little bit more mature of a book, which I absolutely mean as a compliment.

Post-event, we all queued up to get our books signed.  The staff at Boswell handled this really well, assigning everyone to a group and calling up groups so everyone didn’t have to wait in line the whole time.  We went through the line, and (being those people with the baby) I’m pretty sure our 6 month old amused everyone around us the whole time.

Baby's 1st author event.

Mr. Moore graciously signed several of my books – including the copy of “A Dirty Job” that started my whole fandom in the first place.  In the limited time we spoke with him, he was affable and charming.

I really enjoyed my experience with Boswell Book Company and the signing.  Wisconsin Booknerds, you should really stop by.  Everything was lovely and well-coordinated and you can tell it’s a store staffed by folks who just love books.  To show my support, I took the opportunity to pick up two books I’ve been meaning to acquire copies of — Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” and Karen Russell’s “Swamplandia!”

Good times, good times!

Dear Book Cellar. You spoil me.



Did you know? 

If you buy a ‘staff picks’ book at The Book Cellar – the wonderful bookstore in Lincoln Square – you get a free advance copy if a yet to be released book?

Me neither.  But it’s awesome.

BookNerd Adventure: Myopic Books


(Before I begin, let me say that Myopic has a “no photography” policy.  Somehow, I missed this until after I’d taken a few photographs inside the store.  So, in the interest of honoring their wishes, I’m not posting them.  I think it’s a shame, as the store has a unique style/charm all its own.)

Myopic Books, located in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area of Chicago, is one of those places where you’re probably going to find whatever book you’re on a hunt for.  The four-story used book mecca isn’t fancy, but they’ve got stuff.  Oh Boy, do they have stuff – it’s stacked to the ceiling in places – and it’s all priced really reasonably.  Granted, there are some aisles you’ll have to go down sideways, and the basement looks a little bit like something out of a horror movie, but their smart staff and huge collection is practically untouchable in the Chicagoland area.  In addition, they have a music and poetry series, and they buy books.

On a personal note, I will always heart Myopic.  When I got married in 2010, I decided I wanted stacks of books as part of the centerpieces for the reception.  Myopic was where my male of honor and I went to get said books.  We had a blast shopping around for books,  and got a slew of books for a great price.  The staff that helped us out that day was incredibly friendly and even suggesting places to get dirt cheap paperbacks if we wanted more filler.  I appreciated their energy and their love of books, and still do. (On this last trip, I was looking for a cool copy of “Moby Dick,” and – having struck out at two other used bookstores (I know, right?) Myopic hooked me up with the perfect edition.  Score!)

If you’re looking for something specific, Myopic is one of your best bets to find it.

*Also, because coffee matters to me, in the immediate vicinity there’s a Starbucks, a Red Hen Bakery, a few indie coffee places, and a shiny & fancy new Caribou coffee right down the block.  Caffiene & Books; a perfect combo. *

John T. Zubal, Inc – Or, why I need to go to Cleveland.

I didn’t know there was a mecca of books in Cleveland.  Did you?

I learned this while watching one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”  In the Cleveland episode, Bourdain is taken on a tour of the city by “American Splendor” author Harvey Pekar – and he’s taken to John T. Zubal Inc., a warehouse of books located in a former Twinkie factory.  The store, however, is only available online – the physical space isn’t open to the public.


The warehouse probably has over a million books,  many of which are antiquarian and/or signed.  A BookNerd, Tony geeks out – and I would too.


I think this means I have to go to Cleveland…

Thanks to a reader I was pointed to an interview with Zubal over at the youtubes.

Margot Livesey at Women & Children First


The lovely Margot Livesey, author of “The Flight of Gemma Hardy,” showed up at Women & Children First on Tuesday night to read from her new book, take questions, and sign books.  As I very much enjoyed the book, I made the trek up to Andersonville to attend the event.

Ms. Livesey is adorable, and reads very well.  That may seem like a weird statement, but some authors really don’t.  Livesey’s lively lilt took us through a few pages from “The Flight of Gemma Hardy,” and seemed as if it could be the real speaking voice of the fictional character.  After her reading, she took questions about her process, her relationship to “Jane Eyre” (which “..Gemma Hardy” is loosely based on/inspired by) and Iceland (which plays a prominent role in the story.)  She also signed books, and I got my copy signed and got to chat briefly with her.  I thanked her for making me want to visit Iceland – Her book should be adopted by the Icelandic government as a tourist brouchure or something. Seriously.


It’s a shame that I’m rarely in Andersonville, because I really enjoy the neighborhood, and Women & Children First is a wonderful independent bookstore.  Obviously, the store has a female-heavy slant, but they carry lots of great fiction as well, and have a great kids section too.   (I purchased a book I can’t wait to read – “Defining Moments in Books.”)  Their sale/Remainder section is rather grand as well, and they host tons of events.


Post-event, my dear friend Annie and I strolled to the Starbucks across the way, got some decaf drinks (It was 8:30pm) and then headed home.  Annie is the only person I know who loves “Jane Eyre” as much as I do, and she was the perfect date.  (Especially when she told Ms. Livesey that anytime she wanted to get a drink, we’d oblige.)

Booknerd Adventure: Unabridged Bookstore



To borrow a phrase from my mother-in-law, I already had a bee in my bonnet to visit my favorite bookstore in Chicago, Unabridged Bookstore.  Then, I watched Ann Patchett’s appearance on The Colbert Report (see previous post) where she extoled the virtues of indie bookstores, and I was inspired.  So I bundled up my 4 month old, strapped him in the Baby Bjorn, and hopped on over to Unabridged.  (I’m lucky, this gem is mere blocks from my home.)

On a weekday afternoon, the store is fairly quiet.  This is the perfect time to browse the shelves.  It’s not the biggest bookstore in the world, but their staff is really smart, and their featured selections are usually right-on.  In addition, the kids section is wonderful, and the whole basement is full of travel books.  (I can’t think of a rival travel section anywhere in town.)

But the best thing about Unabriged is their amazing sale section.  Where many stores use the word “sale” to clear out books that obviously were of no interest to people, Unabridged’s is full of stellar selections – a mecca for booknerds.  I noticed books by John Irving, Christopher Moore, Sarah Vowell, Toni Morrison, and a plethora of other authors I truly care about.  It’s hardly a dumping ground.

Sure, they didn’t have a couple of the books I was looking for, but I like my haul anyway.  I got Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” on sale for 5 bucks, as well as “The Philosophical Baby” by Alison Gopnik, and an adorable board book for my little guy called “A Book of Sleep.”  Plus that, they are an IndieBound store and feature the “Next” lists of recommendations from which I’ve found several books I’ve loved.


Also, the bookseller on duty talked to my baby.  I always like when people do that.  And my baby smiled back.  That’s an all around win.

**Since I’m trying to match Bookstore adventures with coffeeplaces of late, I have to give mad props to the Caribou Coffee across the street from Unabridged.  Apparently I walked into a conversation about potty training little boys, and it was hilarious. Good times. **