I am really excited about hosting Adam of Roof Beam Reader for my Love My Indie Bookstore feature. I am a huge fan of Adam and have been following his blog since before starting Actin' Up with Books. When I put out a request for participants for this feature earlier this year, he was one of the first to sign up. Today Adam shares his favorite independent bookstore, Town House Books in Saint Charles, Illinois.
Whenever I find a place that offers not only a great selection of books but also an incredible brunch (and lunch) menu, I know that it and I are soon to become fast friends. Townhouse Books in Saint Charles, Illinois is more than just a book and brunch kind of place, although it does those things to perfection! And in the warm months, you can eat along the walkway or in the courtyard, sipping a coffee and nibbling a scone, and it feels like Paris. I mean, just look at this:
What I love about Townhouse Books is that, of course, it is first and foremost an independent bookseller. Their staff is small and dedicated, so the chances are good that –if you visit often—you will get to know most of them, and they will get to know you. In addition, the people are friendly, too!
I worked at a bookstore for a few years, and I can say without snark or cynicism that, well, sometimes bookstore salespeople can be a bit off-putting. They can be snobbish or sarcastic or completely ineffectual (because they don’t read!). But Townhouse Books has a staff of wonderful people who know their stuff or, in the off chance that they’re not sure what you’re talking about, will actually help you figure it out!
Another thing I love about the bookstore side of the place (it is restaurant to the right, books to the left!) is its winding aisles and bookshelves of varied types and sizes. Some people might find this style odd or “rummage” like, but that’s just what I love about it! There’s plenty of sunlight, so you can explore around the genres (yes, they’re organized!) at a leisurely pace, strolling around one corner and the next. It feels much more like you’re in a museum of discovery than a clinical, cosmetically cold, corporate kind of place.
Of course, they have great events, too: author appearances, reading, signings, group functions and more. Educators (like me!) get 20% off books for use in the classroom, and they also offer a selection of hand-sewn letter press books by local authors, which can make for pretty awesome, unique gifts. Here’s Julia Glass (National Book Award winner, 2002) at a reading in the café:
Townhouse Books and Café has been around since 1974 and has managed to survive so many ups-and-downs in the economy, and so many brutal winters. How do they do this, even with corporate giants like Barnes & Noble and, now, Half Price Books fairly close by? If I knew the answer to that, I’d perhaps have a successful recipe for my own bookstore! All I can say is, it is a local treasure and I can’t help but go back again and again!