Open Books‘ two stores in the West Loop and Pilsen are brightly decorated, and the shelves are filled with prose, poetry, and everything in between. You can find anything from new publications like the Harry Potter and Cursed Child script to well worn treatises on the pedagogy of care. If the selection is overwhelming, staff recommendations line the shelves to guide you to a good read.
But, maybe it’s better to wander.
Maybe your hand will stroke the yellow spine of an author out of print, out of style, and maybe even out of his mind, or maybe your eye catches another wrinkled spine with annotations like arteries spreading across its inner cavity. Some books are in the best conditions, as if brand new, but they lack that certain scent of having lived and being loved. That’s the thing about holding a used book- you’re holding on to something with more soul than a simple story. You are holding that which someone has tried to use to do something great: to learn more, to understand better, to be all the more closer to truth. In essence, you are holding what another has poured all his or her heart in for at least a moment in hope for something more than this world.
Because when we read, what do we read for if not for something more than our realities? Whether it is for pleasure or edification, implicit in the act of reading is the hope that what we read matters, and implicit in that hope is the hope that we as readers matter enough in the giant scheme of the discordant universe to ever have a chance to have meaning.
The chicken scrawl crawling throughout that book or the silent yellowed pages of this novel tell so much more than what the author had in mind. Whatever you have in your hands contains the story crafted by an author and the history of a person searching for something more, something transcendent. Here is a reminder that hunger for something more than the mundane pages of our own narratives is real. You are not alone in wanting more, in wanting meaning. Fellow readers have left their mark here to remind you that the road to meaning may be difficult and even dangerous, but you are not alone in it.
Then again, maybe you’re just looking for a good deal. You’ll find that at Open Books too. Your discount book purchase helps Open Books facilitate a wide range of literacy development services, from providing books for teachers to grants for other literacy non-profits to direct service programs for children. You can aid them in their mission to increase literacy in Chicago by volunteering in their programs, donating books, or simply purchasing a book.
Open Books West Lake
651 W. Lake St.
Chicago, IL 60661
M-Sat 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sun 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Open Books Pilsen
905 W. 19th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
W-Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.