57th Street, the actual street, is perfect for the meandering bookworm. We started with lunch at the graffiti clad Medici Restaurant. Famous for its burgers and scribbled upon walls and furnishings, we filled the time waiting for our food by adding our own “tags” to the table top. More importantly, within blocks there are three excellent bookstores: 57th Street Books, O’Gara & Wilson, Ltd., and Powell’s (no, not the Portland one). We started at 57th Street Books and had a hard time ever wanting to leave.
57th Street Books is one of three bookstores that comprise a co-op, the other two being Seminary Co-op and the Newberry Library Bookstore. We were in the neighborhood to look at the University of Chicago. When I learned that 57th Street Books gives a 10% discount for co-op members, I immediately started adding up how much money we would save if Kyle bought his textbooks through it–another plus for Chicago. Regardless of the discount, this is an engrossing store. It goes on and on, just when I thought I was heading to the back, I realized I was just entering a new room. It’s a full service store with depth in a wide variety of genres. The atmosphere is warm and inviting with lots of exposed brick and worn wooden shelving. The staff is chatty and welcoming. We talked about books, the university, what it’s like to live in Hyde Park, in some ways they were just as informative as the school tour.
I love bookstores that introduce me to new books and given how many bookstores I visit in a year, it’s not aways easy to do. 57th Street stocks shelves next to the cash register for books recommended by excellent sources: NPR, the NYT, the Economist, the NYRB, the New Yorker. Need to know what literary people are reading but don’t have time to read all the reviews, just stop by the store and you’re set. Throughout the store I found sheets tacked up with clever titles listing recommended books. My favorite was “Suffering from P.H.P.S?” (For that uninitiated, that would be the Post Harry Potter Syndrome.) The cure included reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (Keith recently started reading the Game of Thrones series, I think we will see him again sometime later in the decade), and a few other options that all seemed to have the word Chronicle in the title. I love a bookstore that takes care of its customers withdrawal symptoms.
In the science section, one of those areas I usually breeze through, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean caught my eye. I don’t know much about science so I usually try to read one book on the subject a year; this is going to be my 2012 choice. Plus, I’ll try to get Kelsey to read it before she takes chemistry next year, I’m sure it’s full of tidbits she can sprinkle throughout her work.
57th Street Store is worth stopping by and hanging out, who knows what you’ll find.
1301 E. 57th Street