Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road this past summer for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
CHICAGO, Illinois — Cafes and bookstores have been buddies for a long time. It makes sense. Books are everyone’s first priority (or at least they should be), but sometimes we do need to attend to our human needs like eating and drinking to, you know, stay alive. So putting a cafe with some food and drink right next to a bookstore is always a good idea. But there is an even better idea kicking around Lincoln Square in Chicago.
The Book Cellar has upped the ante. They’ve got all the books you could want and they have some delicious cafe munchies and drinks. But on a tough day, a turkey sandwich and apple cider (no matter how good) won’t necessarily cut it for you. That’s where The Book Cellar really shines. They know some days are hard and they know some books go down smoother with a glass of wine or a cold mug of beer. Consequently, they’ve matched a sharp book selection with wine, beer, and food that will give you even more reasons to stay in the store. And if you catch owner Suzy Takacs there, her friendly nature and great conversation will make you even less likely to stroll toward the exit. Really the most difficult part of your journey to The Book Cellar will be leaving before closing time.
Owner Suzy Takacs answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.
What inspired the name The Book Cellar?
My husband and I were trying to come up with names and The Book Cellar obviously combined books and wine, but it’s also a fun play on words for the job that we do here (we’re all book sellers), so it seemed like the perfect fit.
This isn’t just the oddest book in the store — it’s the oddest book I’ve ever seen. It’s called Splunkunio Splunkey: Detective and Peacemaker and it’s about this puppet with ten fingers on each hand and ten toes on each foot who goes around solving household crimes. I’ve never seen anything that resembles this book in the slightest.
What is the oddest non-book item in your store?
Probably the Electronic Mr. Robot Head. It’s a energy-efficient game designed for kids. There is a crank on the back, so you don’t need batteries, and a winding metal wire on top. Once it’s charged up, the goal is to move the metal wand from one end to the other without touching the wire. If you do Mr. Robot Head beeps and his mouth lights up, signaling that you’ve got to start over.
What is your favorite Algonquin book?
I’m going to say When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is my favorite. It’s such a creative story and Jordan is a fantastic writer so I got into it really quick.
And your favorite book for summer reading?
Hmmmm. I’ve got two that come to mind. The first is The Good House by Ann Leary and the second is The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster. The Good House is some delicious fiction and The Tao of Martha is another hilarious memoir from Lancaster.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at The Book Cellar?
We had one customer call up our store and specifically ask how he could shop at The Book Cellar without being put “in the system.” Our bookseller who answered the phone didn’t exactly know what he meant—if he didn’t want to use a credit card, if he didn’t want to be on the mailing list, or if he was concerned with something else entirely—so she suggested that he pay in cash and decline to sign up for our frequent buyer program. We never found out if he showed up in the store, so he successfully stayed under the radar to my knowledge.
Next stop: The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…