I thought I knew all the bookstores in Chicagoland. Then a friend of mine told me about The Looking Glass. It’s only one L stop from my house, and I learned that the owner lives a block from me. It has been on Oak Park Avenue since February of 2013.
This is just an extraordinary find, and a delight to have right in my neighborhood. It’s brightly lit used bookstore whose light blue and green walls recall a college town cafe (curiously…I felt it resembled the kind of room Alice, from The Looking Glass, might choose if she had her way). No, they don’t serve coffee, but that’s hardly an issue (not when The 206 is across the street). The website is really attractive and the owner, Steve, has excellent taste in books. I had a short talk with him and know he’s got plenty in storage. I was struck by his fiction shelves, a bibliophile’s dream: loads of classical and acclaimed contemporary titles, including those you’re “supposed to have read but didn’t”, all in very good shape and at affordable prices.
As a parent, I’m excited to have a bookstore that stocks plenty of kids’ books. But the real treat at The Looking Glass is the local author section. Obviously, both Chicago and Oak Park have a long and rich literary history (Elizabeth Berg…Edgar Rice Burroughs…Ernest Hemingway). Steve has set up two attractive shelves to feature the locals. I happened to learn that Steve also has first editions available of local authors’ works.
Tourists in the area, or anyone who ends up coming to eat at Taste of Brasil or Sen Sushi, should not miss a chance to browse and buy from The Looking Glass. Daring readers might choose to get a book wrapped in a paper bag. Given Steve’s taste, chances are these will be great surprises. My bookworm friends should look forward to birthday gifts lifted from this shelf:
823 S Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, IL
Just steps from the Oak Park Blue Line station.