[Champaign, IL] Jane Addams Book Shop: A Step Inside a Time Machine

Carts of books stood as guards at the entryway. The window could have been wiped at least a few more times– Waldo’s face smiling as he waves at me. ‘Shop local!’ in green permanent marker on a 8″ x 11″ sheet of paper. The outer appearance of the store was unimpressive, dingy, stout. I wondered how crammed it would be and if I’d have to squeeze through the aisles like another store I’ve been to. No turning back!


“Hello,” a young, fair-skinned man greeted. He couldn’t have been just a few years older than me. He had one earpud in and the other end rested on the counter. Another man, sporting a Matrix looking long jacket, stood beside him– he was much older, unshaven with greasy brunette hair tucked behind his ears. “Can I help you find anything today?”

“It’s my first time here! So…” I trailed off. The fair-skinned man didn’t miss a beat and started to explain all the sections in the store. They had everything from children’s books to foreign religion and there were three floors– three! I thanked the cashier and Matrix guy finally got to buy his books.


I walked by the first few shelves that loomed over my head and cautiously climbed a small carpeted staircase. I poked around a bit– five dollar manga!– before heading up to the third floor, which had an even narrower staircase made out of wood. But once you got up there, the space opened up immensely. It seemed that no matter which route I took, it always led to another room. My nostrils filled with the smell of musty carpet, wood, and aged paper.

I spent about an hour at a corner section of the store. At one point the documents must’ve been properly sorted and organized, but it seemed like the store clerk gave up and just threw boxfuls of post cards, newspapers, brochures, and car repair manuals in heaps.

I pulled a whole box of cards from the shelf, sat on a nearby stool, and began to rummage through. I was like a fox digging in search of a rabbit; my fingers dug through the crevices of each messily filed item in hopes of reward. Sometimes a document would have writing on them and I couldn’t read all the cursive.


Mr. Kennedy,

I’m sorry you are feeling unwell. I just want you to know that you… I appreciate all you’ve done…

Mrs. C

Were they good friends or bound by obligation? or was Mrs. C an unhappy housewife who was thanking her savior/new lover? Was Kennedy going to die of a terminal illness or natural age, if he was going to die at all? I felt slightly guilty as if I was going through the personal belongings od strangers. Then again, weren’t these items donated? I wondered who came up with the idea of selling those things. My hands smelled like wet dog after.

I’ll help you get a book just so I can use the ladder…
Something about those red drapes gets to me.
I wouldn’t mind being there right now.
Golden radiator
A fold-down of spectacles in Japan.
They have sheet music!
Found remnants of my birthplace.
If only I were an architect, I’d appreciate these more.
When in Rome?



3 thoughts on “[Champaign, IL] Jane Addams Book Shop: A Step Inside a Time Machine


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s