5 Literary Locations in Chicago: Wicker Park Edition


Hi everyone. I’m Rincey and I’m one of
the contributing editors over at Book Riot. This week I’m going to be doing another
installment of literary locations in Chicago. Today I’m going to be focusing
specifically on the Wicker Park neighborhood. And like not even the
entire neighborhood but like a 3 block radius. Chicago has a whole bunch of different
neighborhoods. Wicker Park is one of the more well-known ones because it has
really great just like food options, coffee shops, record stores, like clothing
stores, all these different really great options. I always tell people that if they are
spending like more than just like a day in Chicago that they should get out of
the city, at least like get out of the downtown area and explore some of the
neighborhoods and Wicker Park is definitely one of those that i recommend
to people. So today I’m going to be highlighting a
couple of different bookstores and comic book stories of different places
in that Wicker Park neighborhood. The first one is the most well-known of
these and that’s Myopic Books. It’s been in Wicker Park for quite a number
of years now. It’s consistently listed in like the readers’ favorites Chicago bookstores sort of lists that
happened with like the Tribune and Chicago magazine and things like that. It is a used bookstore and it’s one of
those bookstores that feels like a maze. If you’re extremely claustrophobic I
would recommend that going to the bookstore because some of the shelving
is like very narrow. Like there are points where like you are leaning back
against a bookshelf to be able to look at the bookshelf in front of you. I don’t have a whole bunch of footage
from this bookstore because they don’t really want you to be taking photographs
and video while you’re inside of the story. They have like your particular
rules like they don’t like backpacks in the store. But it’s a really great used
bookstore. They always have at least one thing that I’m able to find that I want
to purchase. This is a bookstore that is multiple floors. The first floor is mainly like fiction.
In the basement they seem to have mostly like mysteries and thrillers. And then
the upper levels are more like nonfiction take books. And it’s just
really fantastic. You could spend hours and there just going through all the
books. Like it’s one of those things I walk out of with like my neck hurting a little
bit because I’ve spent the whole time like this, like staring at all the spines. But
it’s an absolute classic of Chicago and it’s like a must stop if you’re in
the Wicker Park area. The second book store is maybe like a
block down from Myopic it is a pretty new bookstore to the area and that’s Volumes.
Volumes is a bookstore as well as a cafe and so they serve drinks inside like
your general coffee shop stuff as well as like wine and beer I believe as well.
Like I said it’s a pretty new bookstore. It’s very different from Myopic in the
sense that it’s completely new books and it’s very, very beautiful inside. They have really great curation. They
have a wide variety of genres despite the fact that they don’t have
like the largest retail space. They also have sections highlighting
Chicago authors and Chicago-based books which is always the thing that I really
like to see in Chicago independent bookstores. But yeah it’s like a fantastic place to
just like hang out, grab a drink, look at some books, buy some books, and then read your
books with your drink. I had a lot of fun checking out this
bookstore for the first time. They had some stuff in there that I haven’t seen
in other bookstores before, which again is another thing that I really like to
see in independents. But I was very happy with what i was able to see in their
selection. And like I said they’re relatively new bookstore so if you happen to be the area I highly
recommend going out, checking them out and throwing some dollars their way as
they get started. The next two places that I want to
highlight are both comic book stores that are very different from one another,
that are within like again like a two block distance from each other. The first one is Quimby’s, which is
pretty well known in Chicago. It is a comic book store that specializes
specifically more like indie comics, zines, locally published stuff, sort of
like the smaller less well-known sort of artists and publishers. They do have some
other of the bigger names like Image and things like that they stock in
their store. They also have some books available in there. But they are mostly
well known for highlighting artists who are smaller scale. You can find a lot of
little like tiny booklets, a lot of like political stuff. If you’re someone who’s
not really into comic books or like zines or anything like that, they do have a
pretty decent selection of books. Including like more art based books if
you want something like that. They have books based on like music and movies and stuff like that. So the next
comic book store was a place that I didn’t really realize existed in Wicker
Park until recently one of the contributors who also lives in Chicago,
Jesse Doogan, she mentioned this comic book store and
then took us all there. And it’s on the third floor of the Flat Iron Arts
Building, which is right at that major intersection of like Milwaukee, North and
Division, I believe is the third street. If you head up to the third floor, there is
this tiny little comic book shop that is really, really great. Jesse was
telling us about how the first time she went there she met one of the employees
that have been working there for a very long time. They were super helpful, super
friendly. So if you’re someone who is female and has dealt with some not great
experiences in comic book stores, this isn’t like that at all. It’s not
super huge, it’s a very tiny space. But they carry a lot of like the major comic
books that you would expect to see like DC and Marvel, as well as like Image and
Boom and things like that. Again they don’t have a super large selection but
you’ll definitely be able to find something that you had heard of before
that you wanted to pick up. And the last place that I want to highlight is the
Wicker Park Spy Store. And you are probably thinking to yourself, what the
heck are you even touch you about, Rincey? But this is a storefront that is also a
nonprofit organization and a nonprofit sort of retail space This store is partnered with 826 Chicago. If you haven’t heard of it before, 826 is
a literacy program that Dave Eggers started and there are hubs in a lot of
the major cities in the United States. So there is a workshop in the back of
this building where kids come to do different types of literacy programs,
like writing programs. And in the front they have the sort of like spy story so
it’s like anything that you purchase there is used to fund the literacy
organization. But my favorite part is actually the fact that they have books
that they print on a regular basis with writings from the people who attend the
literacy programs. Depending on the book there are different age ranges. The ones
that I saw there were either elementary school or high school. And it’s published
and it has like all the students’ names on there, tells you what schools there
from, things like that. It’s really, really fantastic. When I
stopped by there I just had to pick up some stuff. So i got this wonderful tote
bag while I was there because how could I not. But I also picked up one of the books
while I was there as well. This is The Monsters Gasps OMG! This is the one that the guy
who was working at the store pointed out to me was there. This one is a
collection of monster stories by a bunch of like elementary school kids. And then
they had some of their like volunteer graphic designer sort of put together
illustrations to go with the stories that are just really, really beautiful.
But I just think it’s so fantastic to have literacy programs like this and to
kind of go and support them in different ways. And I just really like the idea of
picking up books that were from different kids, especially kids from
these sort of lower income schools and things like that. And I can only imagine
how proud of these kids are to have their works actually published and
printed into a book that is like a real book. Like this isn’t just some like pamphlet that they’re putting together
but they’re publishing them to be real books, which is just so, so fantastic. So
that’s like the number one place that I would tell you guys to go if you’re in
the Wicker Park area just because it’s a really fantastic organization. I’ll have a link down below if you’re
interested in knowing more about 826 or anything like that. If you have been to the Wicker Park area
before it or you’ve been to any of these specific places before, definitely leave
a comment down below letting me know what you guys think of them. Or if
there’s anything that you think that I missed, definitely leave that down in a comment
below. As I’m like doing research and looking into all these different
neighborhoods and different parts of Chicago. I’m finding there’s just so much
stuff. There’s no way I’m gonna be able to cover it all. So I definitely love your help. So yeah, that’s all I have for this week
and I will see you guys next week. Bye

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