Bookends & Beginnings
1712 Sherman Avenue, Alley 1
Phone: (224) 999-7722
On June 14, 2014, a new full-service independent bookstore debuted in a downtown Evanston space already well known to a generation of area book-lovers. Bookends & Beginnings is a new general-interest independent bookstore located in the space formerly occupied by Bookman’s Alley, a legendary local antiquarian bookstore.
“Our goal is to create a vibrant cultural destination and hub of book-centered community for both adults and children,” says owner Nina Barrett, herself an author, radio personality, and longtime Evanston resident. “Evanston has always supported an array of wonderful used, antiquarian, and specialty bookshops, but we think the time is right for a more substantial-sized, knowledgeably curated, general-interest store.”
Barrett says the shop will offer a mixture of new, used, and specially discounted books, with particular emphasis on titles that will appeal to Evanston’s highly educated and multi-ethnic population. Home to Northwestern University, Evanston is a demographically diverse transitional zone between the melting pot of Chicago on its southern border and the wealthier suburbs on the area’s North Shore, all of whom look to Evanston as a cultural and recreational destination. (In Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 bestseller The Time Traveler’s Wife, the main characters pass an afternoon browsing at Bookman’s Alley after spending a morning toasting themselves on an Evanston beach.)
Barrett has published literary essays and reviews in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Publishers Weekly, and many other publications. Also a trained chef and two-time James Beard Award winner for her radio food reporting for Chicago’s NPR affiliate station WBEZ, Barrett says she plans to make the cooking section “a destination for cooks and food lovers.” Barrett’s husband Jeffrey Garrett, who recently retired from his job as an academic research librarian, will curate several sections, drawing on his decades of experience in rare books and specialized collections, European publishing, and international children’s literature.
Bookends & Beginnings will also carry an eclectic array of sidelines, including antiques, toys, stationery, Evanston and Chicago-area-themed gifts, artisanal artworks, and jewelry. “We’re importing an extensive line of unique beaded necklaces and other jewelry from an atelier in Berlin, Germany,” Barrett says. “Our vision of a bookstore is that it can just as comfortably sell you a book that changes the course of your life, as a gift or a small, affordable piece of art that changes the course of your day.”
The store will also host readings, discussions, story times, puppet shows, and workshops. “Sometimes,” Barrett says, “what changes your life or your day is one new idea, or an interesting conversation you have with a stranger.”
Having started her career just out of college in book publishing in New York, and worked on and off as a bookseller over the course of 15 years, Barrett notes that the past two decades have been brutal for independent stores. “We’ve lost more than half the independent stores in the country to competition from the chains, online retailers, and just the sheer amount of time people spend on their various electronic devices instead of reading books,” she says.
But just in the past year or two, she says, the independent bookstore seems to be making a comeback. Sources including National Public Radio and The Washington Post have noted what they’re calling a “renaissance” of independent bookselling.
“Book-lovers have started to recognize what’s been lost when there’s no exciting physical place where they can congregate, browse, think, and talk,” she says. “And we’re confident that if any community can support that kind of a business in the face of today’s challenges, Evanston can.”
Barrett and Garrett invite the community to share ideas, hopes, and wishes for the new store at the Bookends & Beginnings Facebook page.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located in the heart of downtown Evanston, Bookends & Beginnings features new, used, and remaindered books, literary events, gifts, and local color.
HoursMon: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wed: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
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RHINO Reads! Open Mic and Special GuestsOnce again, the RHINO poets will convene at Bookends & Beginnings for their monthly gathering. The photo above shows last month's special guests: Tyehimba Jess reading...
06:00 PM - 03/31/2017
Mustafa Akyol, The Islamic JesusIn THE ISLAMIC JESUS, Akyol reveals the extraordinary historical connection between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—a major mystery underexplored. He also delves...
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Translation Salon: Musharraf Ali FarooqiJoin us for a casual evening of readings and discussion of classical and contemporary Urdu literature, as well as the process and politics of its translation, with...
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Poetry Evening at Bookends & BeginningsApril is National Poetry Month--at Bookends & Beginnings and everywhere else--and in addition to hosting the RHINO poets on April 28, we are delighted to welcome...
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The Very Short Book Club Reads: The Silk RoadAt noon on the 4th Tuesday of every month, a group of unabashed amateurs and non-specifically curious convene at Bookends & Beginnings to compare thoughts on a title...
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Poetry Evening with David Lazar and Christina PughDAVID LAZAR was a Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction for 2015-16. His books include Who's Afraid of Helen of Troy, After Montaigne, Occasional Desire: Essays, The Body...
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Margaret George in Conversation with Francesca TataranniBestselling author MARGARET GEORGE has brought history to vivid life with her critically acclaimed biographical novels of historical figures, among them Helen of...
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Literaturlenz: A German-Language ReadingIn collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Chicago, Bookends & Beginnings will be hosting three prominent young writers from each of Europe's German-speaking countries,...
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The Very Short Book Club Reads Love: A Very Short IntroductionThe Very Short Book Club will be considering Love: A Very Short Introduction by Ronald de Sousa. Members should come having read the book--practical experience with...
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Potluck Cookbook of the Month Club Does Meatloaf and PotatoesFor February comfort (hygge!!), we're turning to Meat and Potatoes. Yes, again this month there are two books you can choose from: the brand-new A Meatloaf in Every...
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06:00 PM - 01/27/2017
Kenneth Seeskin: Thinking about the TorahThe Bible is an enduring source of inspiration for the human heart and mind, and readers of Thinking about the Torah will be rewarded with an enhanced understanding...
06:00 PM - 01/24/2017
Very Short Book Club: Human EvolutionCome to the next meeting of the Bookends & Beginnings Very Short Book Club at noon on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. Our very short reading assignment for January is...
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The Garden of Broken Statues: Exploring Censorship in RussiaMarianna Tax Choldin, author of this new book, is Mortenson Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1991 she became...
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Potluck Cookbook of the Month ClubOur potluck club warms up the New Year with hearty soups and fresh-baked bread and pastry. Our dual selections for January let you choose between the newly updated...
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04:00 PM - 01/15/2017
LEGO Filmmaking Workshop with David PickettKids! Have you ever wondered what your LEGO creations would look like on the big screen? David Pickett is a LEGO filmmaker here in Chicago, and with co-author David...
02:00 PM - 01/14/2017
Translation Salon with Adam Talib and Rebecca JohnsonJoin us for a casual evening of readings and discussion of contemporary Arabic literature, as well as the process and politics of its translation, with Adam Talib...
06:00 PM - 01/12/2017
Ron Crawford Open HouseRon Crawford's colorful notecards illustrated with charming scenes of Evanston and Chicago have been selling like hotcakes in the store since we brought them in...
05:00 PM - 12/28/2016
Jane Austen's Modern Meaning: A ConversationJoin Northlight Theatre and The Jane Austen Society for a discussion of Jane Austen's influence in contemporary society. Featured guests include Jessica Thebus,...
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