57th Street Books a book lover’s paradise

To the Editor:

I moved to Hyde Park and told a North Side book-loving friend that I could now live happily ever after, for there was hardly a direction I could walk without encountering a bookstore. He looked at me solemnly and said, “Why, it’s like an alcoholic moving in above a tavern.”

Part of that happiness has been walking down to 57th Street Books which, I learned recently, is celebrating its 30th anniversary at that location. I may not have visited the bookstore quite as often as the hypothetical alcoholic has dropped in to the hypothetical tavern down below – while I don’t have an accurate count, my visits could be conservatively estimated to be somewhere in the four-digit range. It was also nice that our children, as they were growing up, could stroll down to 57th Street Books and charge (or even order) any book their little hearts desired (within reason, of course).

It goes without saying that I like the place.

57th Street Books is sometimes called the “popular” branch of the Seminary Co-op (now at 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.), but it continues the tradition of Staver’s Books, the previous occupant of the basement store at 57th Street and Kimbark Avenue, by offering books that the mega bookstores would never dream of carrying.

A friend told me she once called Walden Books, logically it seemed, to see if the store had any editions of Thoreau’s “Walden.” The clerk responded, “Is that a book?” I can’t imagine ever getting such a response at 57th Street Books.

Going to 57th Street Books, in fact, is like walking into the pages of “Times Literary Supplement” or “The New York Review of Books”: always a pleasure, always a delight, always worth returning to again and again.

Barry Kritzberg