About This Blog

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not on board with the whole ebook thing. I enjoy books in all their formats. But there is nothing quite like a bookstore with its neatly arranged shelves of books and artfully created displays of new arrivals, best sellers, and suggested reading. I especially enjoy discovering small, independent bookstores and have made it my mission to visit and report back on as many of these gems as I can. That is my focus, but there is really nothing that is off limits as long as it is about books or reading. Hope you enjoy my blog and come back often.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Sweet Store

23 East Illinois Street
Chicago, IL 60611

What's better than experiencing two great Chicago bookstores (Sandmeyers and Open Books) and one fabulous Chicago library? Well, a third great bookstore, of course. After a special weekend with my husband during which he had agreed to accompany me to the aforementioned establishments, I had a day to myself while he attended a work seminar. As luck would have it, a brief Google investigation turned up a potential shop within walking distance of our hotel. It looked like my nice weekend might be followed by a promising solo trip afterwards. So Monday morning I set out into the heart of Chicago to a bookstore appropriately named after-words.

The weather was cool, yet sunny—perfect for a stroll in the city. In short order I arrived, actually almost passed by, a simple red brick building. Fortunately, an eye-catching neon sign over the door announced that I had reached my destination just two blocks west of famed Michigan Avenue.

I entered an airy space where tall columns inscribed with hand-written quotations support an open ceiling of substantial wood joists punctuated with painted duct work and conduit. Old wood floors and exposed brick walls add to the industrial-chic atmosphere.

Behind the desk I found store manager, Angie, who has been with after-words (Yes, lower case letters, she assured me.) for some 13 years. Her knowledge of the store and books was readily apparent, and it wasn't long before I was enjoying a discussion of our favorite books and authors as well as learning about the store, which just weeks before had passed its 20th anniversary.

Once a candy store, built in the late 1800's, after-words now trades in sweets of a different sort—mind candy, so to speak. Selling both new and used titles, the store has a relaxed ambience with small reading nooks sprinkled throughout. At the back of the space is a glass wall separating the books from a large open area available for signings, readings, and lectures. Angie mentioned that this space is also available to rent for private parties. I must say that a party in a bookstore sounds sublime.

But wait; there's more. A neon arrow points to a heavy factory staircase leading to the downstairs portion of the store. As I descended to investigate the lower level, Angie called out, “See you in a few hours!” The upper floor of this store gives no indication of the vastness of the basement level. It would be easy to spend a few hours or an afternoon in this space browsing the over 70,000 volumes for sale.

I did spend a considerable amount of time browsing and found several books I needed to have, including one that Angie had recommended. But I had other items on my agenda and could not consume the entire afternoon. I feel fortunate, however, that I had the time for a visit to after-words. This purveyor of sweets for the book lover's soul provided the perfect dessert to end my Chicago bookstore adventure.

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