Books English Family

Unabridged Bookstore: 35 years of books, wisdom and warm smiles

IMG_0787To say that I am a bookworm doesn’t make my love for books any justice. They are my favorite object. In our house they are so well liked that we don’t move when we need more room for the kids, but rather when we don’t have anywhere to fit one more bookcase for our growing book collection. I can always pile up kids in bunk beds. Books, not so much. And our problem at dinner time are not screens, or at least not most of the time. Our problem are books and newspapers. It’s the only time I have to read the news, and my oldest just discovered Rick Riordan and cannot let the books alone for a minute.

So, like some families go to church to find solace, to the mall to spend their time, or do sports to enjoy their days together, we go to bookstores. Actually, I think the foundation of our marriage was built at a former bookstore: the first four years I lived in Chicago, I probably spent more time studying alongside my husband in the old Borders On Clark, Broadway and Diversey than I spent at home. Our entire weekends were spent there, sometimes eight hours a day with a short break for lunch somewhere near. I have happy and vivid memories of Norah Jones in the background, a hot mocha in a real mug, when no one else used them, and a delightful piece of carrot cake. I shed some tears the day they closed. And I’m sure I was not the only one, as they had a fair amount of quirky regulars.

No toys here, no identity crisis. Just plain, old books. And that is a good thing.
No toys here, no identity crisis. Just plain, old books. And that is a good thing.

After that, this family of nerds (yes, I’m kind of proud of that) had to look for a new shrine to spend our time at and feed our vice. And that’s when we started to visit Unabridged Bookstore. I had been there on my own a bunch of times before having kids, but back then I didn’t even notice that they had a kids section. Then one day I stopped by when I was still a mom of one with time to roam around (even though I wasn’t aware of it at that time) , and we fell in love with it. Because not only did they have a children section. They had a fantastic one.

The younger part of their children section
The younger part of their children section.

We have been going there ever since to check books, buy gifts, purchase items for ourselves, and spend some quiet time with our otherwise rambunctious kids. Their teachers get gift cards from them as presents. Whenever I’m looking for something weird and hard to find, I know they will do their best to find it for me. And they were fast and quick to help me find appropriate books to build up language when we found out that our middle one was deaf without saying “I’m so sorry” even once. So they are to help me find something suitable for my husband who loves presidents and American history, two literary topics I am shamelessly unfamiliar with.

I like knowing that I do the oposite of most people: I browse books online just to purchase them in my favorite local bookstore. But I wish it would be the other way around, and most people did like me, so brick and mortar bookstores wouldn’t be an endangered species. We should all complain less about outsourcing, and begin insourcing ourselves, starting with our neighborhood stores. Do so during the next holiday season.

They were one of the first Chicago bookstores to have a LGBTQ section.
They were one of the first Chicago bookstores to have a LGBTQ section.

Today, when we visited on their 35th anniversary, it was nice to see that they were busy, and to be able to congratulate the same kind people who have greeted us every time we go for the last few years, the ones who reserve hard to find books, or wrap our Christmas presents. I didn’t mind waiting in line to pay, as a busy store is a healthy one, one that will stick around for a while.

So here goes a toast to another 35 years of  life for Unabridged Books, white wine in one hand, one of their books in the other, which has to be the best way to toast.

Book heaven
Book heaven

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