Uncharted Books

5140 N. Clark St., Andersonville

A vintage-print paradise houses antiquarian finds from the 19th century.

Armadillo’s Pillow

6753 N. Sheridan Rd., Rogers Park

A secondhand-book emporium doubles as art shop and reading room.

The Hook
Opened in 2012 (and at this location since 2019), the shop beckons with its curated selection and some truly rare tomes. But let’s be honest: The biggest draw is Ramona, owner Tanner McSwain’s husky pup, there five days a week. This multilevel spot is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Dominated by books you hadn’t realized you needed until you stumbled upon them, it also sells locally crafted jewelry and art.
The Look
The dark Gothic wallpaper provides the perfect canvas for the endless array of curious art and antiques. “That maximalist, neo-Romantic aesthetic has always appealed to me,” says McSwain.
L’Opere d’Oratio Poeta Lirico by Giovanni Fabrini, $450
Though inspired by John Irving, its name sounds like it leapt from Lewis Carroll’s brain, so it’s no surprise to discover a wabi-sabi Wonderland. And all those globes? “They’re magnetically attracted to bookshops,” quips Matt Ebert, who owns the store with his wife, Betsey Boemmel.
The Nook
Tucked behind a bookshelf that’s secretly a door is a large den. That’s where you’ll find the rare books, including a sizable selection of Robert Louis Stevenson novels. Make that nooks, plural: Armadillo’s Pillow offers several little spots to nestle in, each with its own odd chair. “One ought to be able to browse,” Ebert says. “Why not be comfortable?”
The Books
Period paperbacks are popular, partly because they’re as cheap as $5. Meanwhile, the first edition of Jules Verne’s 1866 book Voyages et Aventures du Capitaine Hatteras goes for $1,250.
Rifle through truly antiquated tomes. Need a two-century-old translation of Homer’s The Iliad ($80)? How about a 1950 paperback of Silence in Court, a cozy British mystery by Patricia Wentworth, for a modest $24.