There are several things to love about Wicker Park’s five-month-old Volumes Bookcafe, but chief among them is its goal to bring the community together around a shared passion for books. Also high on the list? This place combines coffee, pastries, wine, and books. In other words, there’s really no reason to ever leave.
Upon entering, visitors note the sleek, modern decor with just the right number of quirky embellishments to draw them in: a reading nook covered in colorful hardbacks, a high-contrast Don Quixote poster, quote-ridden chalkboard walls, and a decent-sized shelf of board games (squee!).
While it’s not the biggest bookstore in the city, it is apparent that a lot of thought has gone into what’s on the shelves. In fact, Volumes prides itself on having a well-curated collection, and from what I could see, it’s one that would satisfy any reader’s palette.
Like any bookstore worth its salt, personal recommendations are peppered throughout each section, many of which I wholeheartedly second (lookin’ at you, Geek Love). But what’s different is that in most cases, there are only one to three available copies of any book. This place isn’t aiming to pump out the latest best-sellers; they’re looking to spark conversation and engage their customers on a quest to find their next favorite novel.
And, importantly, the staff with whom I’ve spoken are readily available, knowledgeable, and able to provide thoughtful next-read suggestions. They are also more than willing to special order anything not found in the store.
I love this book tower.
We snagged “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” for Baby Bear.
If I didn’t feel like I’d be defiling books, I’d create something like this at my apartment. There’s probably a second-hand market for book covers, right?
A reading bench in the children’s section helps even the youngest readers relax a while.
Then there’s the cafe, which, on a weekday around noon, was pleasantly populated but not overcrowded. Serving Metropolis coffee, (local) Dollop pastries, wine, and beer, it seems there’s something for everyone to enjoy while they walk the store, read, chat, or work away on their computer.
Just in case you want to flaunt your nerd status via bracelet.
My favorite little decoration in the entire place was this hand-drawn owl. As a prior resident of Austin, Texas, whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” I felt right at home with this guy and his message. Long live the weirdos.
I am so coming back for this some night.
Wahoo! Board games!
Overall, the ambiance of the store and cafe is inviting, relaxed, and enjoyable. It’s very fitting that Volumes is owned by two sisters with backgrounds in education because it feels welcoming to children and adults alike. Even though I had a baby and a stroller with me, I didn’t feel receive any side-eyes or feel the pressure to GFTO as I do in so many other places that are traditionally quieter and/or less kid-friendly.
With a ton of events, book clubs, and even an incredibly attractive sounding NaNoWriMo project, it truly is a place that encourages community interaction, which just makes me appreciate it all the more.
Plan Your Visit
Location and hours
Volumes is located at 1474 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Those are pretty generous hours, if you ask me.
Parking and transportation
In my experience, parking in Wicker Park is kind of a nightmare because space is so limited and several areas require permits. However, metered parking is available.
I personally recommend public transportation, though, especially because the store is only a four-minute walk from the Damen Blue ‘L’ stop.
Stroller or carrier
With only my jogging stroller at my dispense on the day of my first visit, I can attest that there is plenty of room for a stroller–especially a normal-sized one–at Volumes Bookcafe. Plus, a stroller makes it substantially easier to sit down and enjoy a cup of joe.
If you’re looking for a bookstore with spunk and substance, check out Volumes Bookcafe. If it were possible to be friends with a bookstore, I’d sign right up with this one.
And, after all, you know here at Baby Brown Bear, I am a fan of keeping it local.