Borders is out. Barnes and Nobel is dying. And Kindles and iPads are lame. For those who want to flip through a paperback, or indulge in a hardcover this summer, here’s the places you need to go:
#4 Bookman’s Corner
Where: Lakeview (2959 N. Clark St.)
Website: Bookman’s Corner
This place is a literary mess! But not in a bad way. It’s just that there’s about 10 aisles worth of books jammed into a tiny maze of 4 rows. And anything that didn’t fit on the shelves is stacked on the floor, by the windows, or next to the cash register. Bookman’s corner has everything from novels to encyclopedic reference books at very fair prices. The selection is great, and organization is non-existent, but the owner behind the counter will help you find anything as it seems like he memorized the placement of just about any book in the store.
#3 Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records
Where: Logan Square (2307 N. Milwaukee Ave)
Despite the hype about this place, I was underwhelmed by the limited collection that was mostly, and expectedly, sci-fi and horror-themed books. They did have some good vinyls and I was able to snag a copy of Judas Priest’s “Screaming for Vengeance” for less than 10 bucks, which was pretty cool, but I wouldn’t go too far out of my way to go again.
#2 Myopic Books
Where: Wicker Park (1564 N. Milwaukee Ave)
The massive 3-story, 80,000+ book collection speaks for itself. Going on 20 years, Myopic Books is one of Chicago’s oldest and largest used bookstores.
Myopic was voted “Best Used-Book Selection” in the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago 2008 and is likely to make the ballot this year. Clear your schedule before stopping in because you will lose time browsing their endless collection looking for your next summer read. There is also a cat named Leonard that wanders around the store, so keep an eye out for him too.
#1 Shake Rattle and Read Book Box
Where: Uptown (4812 N. Broadway)
Website: Shake Rattle and Read
Like Bucket O’ Blood, this bookstore has both used vinyls and books, but the selection is broader and deeper. There’s Michael Jackson records mixed in with 80’s hair metal records, and shelves of new biographies next to aging mystery books. Look down and you’ll see a hidden trove of back issues of Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. The sign out front reads “Established in 1966” and the building is even older. Located next to the Green Mill, Shake Rattle and Read is connected to surrounding stores by the underground tunnels used by Capone’s crew during the prohibition days, but I doubt they were smuggling books.