Tag Archives: Open Books

Doing good, doing well

Sometimes I really like being Facebook friends with my sister Tricia and her college friends. It’s encouraging to see youthful optimism.

It makes me ask myself, where the hell did mine go?

I feel like I’m too young to have already lost youthful optimism. I’m not even 30. Yet, I’ve lost the feeling that I can affect change. That my voice can be heard. That I can be a do-gooder. Especially in the current landscape of extreme bi-partisanism and unsettling world events. Nothing seems to get done except arguing over who’s right or wrong.

But I remember that something can be done in small strides. Joe recently suggested that we volunteer for a Bin Donated event to sort books for Open Books, one of my favorite organizations in the city. A great idea.

So, a group of us sorted through 6,200 books, dividing them between fiction and nonfiction.

Then, we boxed them up to be inventoried. Along the way, we skipped past Provence, put together A Million Little Pieces, survived the Lipstick Jungle, Ate. Prayed. Loved, and caught glimpse of sordid romances.

And the profits from these used books, when sold, will support literacy and creative writing programs.

I have to remind myself sometimes that we all can’t all sell our possessions and save the whales (or can’t we?). Some of us aren’t as bright eyed as we used to be. We may have become purveyors of consumerism (this girl), even if it’s not exactly what we had in mind as college kids. Maybe we should stop and remind ourselves that small gestures affect change in their own way. Like doing a favor for a friend to make his or her day  better. Or speaking up for something we believe in. Or  even giving an hour of time to improve the world in a very small way.

Joe, a do-gooder in his day job, let me know that Volunteer Match and Craigslist are good places to find volunteer opps. Our friend Mary is also planning cooking nights for Ronald McDonald House.

Just in case you want to reconnect with your youthful optimism.



Filed under Chicago, culture

Reason we live in Chicago #6—Hidden gems

Honest truth: I used to think that Seasonal Affective Disorder—or SAD—was sort of a BS disorder.

This year, I’m a believer.

I’ve been inexplicably glum (or melancholy, as Lisa would want me to say), grumpy and withdrawn for weeks. Everything is fine, but the constant gray has pervaded my mood.

However, I did find a brief diversion last week. I knew a used bookstore called Open Books was close to my office, but I didn’t realize how close it was until I stumbled upon it during my lunch break. It’s a nonprofit organization that supports literacy efforts and sells some really great used books. It’s a super cute shop to boot. My spirits were immediately lifted upon discovery.

I've passed this banner a million times without notice.

If this title doesn't lure you inside, I don't know what will: How to Sell Yourself: Tested Roads to Business Achievements and Social Popularity

Colorful shelves, comfy seating and the smell of the trees of yore abound

You said it, orange wall.

My purchases

It’s funny how popping in this little gem of a bookstore transformed my whole day. Something about bookstores make me happy, as if I’m experiencing an endangered species before it’s too late.  I also find being around so many expressions of creativity invigorating.

Open Books is inspiring for the work it does, and I was happy to make a meager contribution. The fact that I purchased three great books for the price of one book I just bought at Borders was icing on the cake.

Until spring comes, I’ll be using hidden gems like Open Books as a coping mechanism. The new Filter coffee shop on Milwaukee may just be the next one. Send any other recommendations you may have.

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Filed under Chicago, neighborhoods, weather