Hyde Park's O'Gara & Wilson has the timeless quality of an old reading room: classical music playing in the background, stained glass suspended over the forest green marble counter and rows of tidy old books. Of course, the shelves here are more likely to be filled with rare (and pricey) treasures than battered cast-offs. Opened in 1888 (making it Chicago's oldest bookstore), O'Gara & Wilson deals in books that easily date back centuries which sell for thousands of dollars.
For those seeking beautiful but less-expensive reads, there's a robust section of used paperbacks to browse, including a table of $1 paperbacks that are almost impossible to resist, with nearly a third of the space filled with literature. Specializing in art history and archeology, O'Gara & Wilson also has a mean selection of philosophy, religion and history books, many of which are acquired from University of Chicago professors, students and estate sales.
Along with the neatly organized shelves of antiquarian and used books, there's a small selection of maps near the front, along with the table of new arrivals, which is completely changed each week. The bookshop may be a bit smaller and a lot tidier than most used book-lovers are used to, but it's still easy to lose yourself in these lovely stacks.
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood