April 23, 2021

Book Beat: Bookends and Beginnings Bookstore

Thank heavens for people who are keeping bookstores alive and well. That includes Nina Barrett and husband Jeff Garrett who have lovingly refurbished the old Bookman’s Alley in downtown Evanston. The poetic couple with rhyming last names bring writing expertise on her side and an academic background in libraries and global children’s literature on his side. The inventory reflects their interests with many books on food and cooking and 26 languages represented in their international children’s book collection. There is an interesting mix of both new and gently used works of fiction and non-fiction as well as an exclusive line of jewelry from German artist, Frauke Lohr.

Those who remember the charming and rambling yet dimly lit old Bookman’s Alley will be pleased to note that the new owners have brightened the surroundings with better lighting but have kept the spirit of the old place with nook after nook of books and tasteful rugs on the floors.

My first introduction to this newly restored Evanston landmark was to attend a book launch and book-signing by former Chicago singer Ella Leya in her debut novel “The Orphan Sky.” Now a resident of London, Leya has written a fictional work set in 1970s Azerbaijan with a female concert pianist caught between the demands of the Communist Party and her own artistic and romantic yearnings.

Concerts, book-signings and story time events will surely draw more bibliophiles into the delightful Bookends and Beginnings. Long live the book and its brave purveyors.


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