Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Great Bookstores Series: Open Books in Chicago (and this amazing thing called a "Blind-Book Date")

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."
When I travel, I always try to find an interesting bookstore in the city I find myself wandering around in, one that captures or embodies the vibrancy of the place. This past weekend, I initially found myself smack dab in the middle of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago for a conference, surrounded by Gucci, Chanel, Hermes, and Ferrigamo, feeling distinctly poor and thoroughly out of place. The kind of bookstore I wanted, I knew, wouldn't be situated anywhere near the confines of that environ, so I started walking. With the help of Google maps, I found Open Books, a place that had a five-star review on Yelp declaring it a book-lover's paradise. Once I arrived, I was not disappointed; it was worth the mile-long trek in whipping wind with a severe head-cold and sore throat.

Here's why you would fall in love with it too:

The selection is vast and varied, and the prices are right (both for new and used books). I found Allegiant, the last Divergent book, for only $7.00 used. Also, Open Books is a non-profit venture, funding literacy programs in the city. Almost all of the people that work in the bookstore are volunteers.
The volunteers offer an assortment of their favorite reads on the shelves, and patrons can also leave notes tacked to the shelves about their own beloved books.
Not the best picture, but this is an example of "Top Five" lists, these ones written for YA readers.

The space itself is inviting: there are lots of comfortable places to read, tables for playing games, an entire children's play area, filled with books to fuel the imagination.
"The first time I read an excellent book, it is just as if I had gained a new friend."

The fact that this book was displayed in the children's section endeared the bookstore to me all the more, as it was a book that I treasured deeply when I was a young reader.

A little book-porn for comic-book fans;).

I think this is my favorite part of the whole experience of this particular bookstore. If you spend more than $50, you can take home an anonymous book selected for your tastes. I love this idea so much!!

If you are ever in the Chicago area, stop by Open Books (located at 213 W. Institute Plaza). Tell them Alice from the Owl's Skull sent you. Spend more than $50 and get your free book. All while supporting a good cause:). (You can also follow the bookstore and its endeavors on Twitter and Facebook).

One more thing, before I forget! The winner of the Anne Sexton Transformations giveaway was Erika Ryan. Thanks for entering:)!! A/J

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