For this week's post, I went to the Wicker Park/Bucktown area of Chicago. I don't venture this way that much, as it's always hella crowded and I'm not one for big crowds. It's an area torn between trying to stay gritty and artsy while expensive boutiques and restaurants are popping up. You'll find tattooed punks walking down the same (crowded!) sidewalks as perfectly-dressed downtown sales types and stroller moms. They're all sharing the same space, and it's fascinating. But yeah, its crowded.
Whenever I'm around, however, I make sure to stop into Myopic Books. Frequently awarded "best of Chicago" for used bookstores, the store is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!
When I got married in 2010, my husband and I knew we wanted books to be involved somehow. Our solution was to utilize them in our centerpieces, building small piles of books we loved at the center of the tables and topping them with small clusters of flowers in mismatched glass vases. It was really cute, but it required a lot of used books. One simple search of the internet, and I discovered Myopic. Assisted by my Male-of-Honor (Hi, Bob!) we ventured to the store on a snowy and frigid February day and spent a few wonderful hours picking out used books of all genres, shapes, sizes, and colors to make the 20 arrangements. The staff at Myopic that day went all in and helped tremendously, and I've had a soft spot in my heart ever since.
SO. MANY. BOOKS. They boast having over 70,000 titles, and I'd believe it.
Myopic is a maze. It's built of corners and twists and stairs and a basement you might miss if you're not looking. It's a little creaky in places, but that's part of it's charm. It's purely a used bookstore, and the collection is insane. Every inch of the space in the store has been put to use.
For a crazy collection, it's organized really well. Everything is clearly marked, and has it's place which can be found via the posted directories. You can find almost anything at Myopic Books. Except Romance, but I'm not even mad at them. There's a collection of graphic novels taller than I can reach, a thorough (if a bit small) kids section, and more literary analysis than I've seen at most libraries. I'm not even sure where they'd put a romance collection if they had one.
I always check a bookstore to see where they've shelved Gail Carriger, if they have any books by her. Her steampunk/Victorian/mystery/wonder gets put all sorts of places, but I found her at Myopic - in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Biography/Sports basement. (She gets put wherever VC Andrews gets put a lot, though I can't think of two writers who tell more different stories, but whatever. Not my call.)
Tidbits: The used books at Myopic are usually priced around half the cover price. Credit/Debit are accepted. They do buy books at certain hours. There's a poetry series and live music on Mondays. On my way out, I saw a sign that read No Pictures, Please. Whoops. ;)
Do yourself a favor if you're in the area - visit Myopic Books. After your trip to the store, when you're dead tired from exploring and in desperate need of a sugar/coffee fix, walk around the corner to Stan's Donuts and indulge yourself.