Welcome to this second installment of RHINO’s guide to the Evanston poetry scene! As promised, we’ll start our tour with places to read and write.
The first thing anyone tells us about writing in any genre is that we have to read everything we can get our hands on. Even disregarding Barnes and Noble, there are a lot of books for writers to get their hands on and in here in Evanston, RHINO’s home base.
Evanston Public Library
Where to Find Books
The two main libraries in Evanston, Evanston Public Library and the Northwestern University Library both provide excellent resources to the community and host expansive collections of books. Northwestern’s forte is research, and EPL boasts a wide variety of fiction for kids and adults. Bright, open, and inviting, the public library functions as a literary community center, hosting various book clubs, conferences, and other events (including RHINO’s monthly workshop series, The Forum!).
Near campus, Market Fresh Books is a favorite of “Townies” and “Gownies” alike. They have a wide variety of books in every genre, including a good-sized selection of new releases. The best part? At Market Fresh you pay by the pound.
Bookman’s Alley has been an Evanston institution for more than thirty years. The
quaint storefront opens into a veritable labyrinth of old books, snaking through poetry, western history, children’s books, photography, and more. The owner announced his plans to go out of business in December 2011, but there’s no rush; Mr. Carlson plans to stick around as long as the books do.
Piled high with books, but well organized and easy to navigate, Howard’s Books is well worth the jaunt north of downtown Evanston. Howard himself runs the shop and is happy to help you find what you’re looking for, happy to let you browse as long as you’d like, even happy for you to sit cross-legged in the middle of the aisle so you can see the books on the bottom shelf.
In and among the larger book stores of Evanston are nestled several tiny ones as well. Amaranth Books’ narrow, no-frills aisles shelve a wide variety of used and rare books whose makeup seems to be half nonfiction and half Literature (with a capital L), all in mint condition and at excellent prices. Further south, Squeezebox Books feels much more playful than Amaranth, with a selection that is small, but off-beat and surprising. Book Den, another tiny space stacked to overflowing with books of all kind, is more or less organized by topic, but definitely built for exploring.
The Chicago-Main Newsstand has been around forever (almost literally), and carries a huge variety of local and out-of-state magazines for all kinds of interests, as well as a huge selection of literary magazines. A perfect place to find inspiration for your own writing.
Thanks to RHINO Intern Sarah Weber for the research and compilation of this series. Sarah is a senior Theatre and Creative Writing major at Northwestern University. Originally from Dallas, she’s spent the last several months making a concentrated effort to truly get to know Chicago and Evanston and has, in the process, fallen in love with them. She will head to Emerson College in the fall to pursue her masters in publishing.