Midwest Book Scouting Trip – Day 12 -How Did We Get to Ottawa??

We hit the mother lode in Madison, Wisconsin!  Shakespeare & Co. Books was still there, only they had moved the store AND changed their name back to Browzers Book Shop.  (The owner took over Browzers quite a few years ago from his father, changed the name to Shakespeare & Co., then just recently switched it back to Browzers in honor of his father).  It took us a while to track down the shop, because of the name change and because Madison is a wild and crazy place with lots of one way streets, bicycle lanes, pedestrian only streets and crawling with University students.

Here’s a photo of the first two shops we visited, Browzer’s on the right and Paul’s Books on the left:

Paul’s Books and Browzers Book Shop on State Street in Madison, WI

These stores are located on State Street, a pedestrian-only shopping district, so we parked the car about four blocks away in a parking garage and walked there.  We spent several hours in Browzers, a very organized and comfortable shop, and gathered a boxful of books we were really happy with, including some unusual and hard-to-find titles.

Interior of Browzers Book Shop

We spent at least an hour in Paul’s Book Shop next door, but purchased just one book, a jacketed first edition by cowboy author and artist Will James.   Down the street at 315 West Gorham Street we found a wonderful large shop, actually a combination of two book shops — Bookworks and Avol’s Bookstore.  Ron and I went on separate searches and soon we were popping up at each other’s sides like excited gophers at regular intervals, ooohing and ahhhhing with delight.  This was a terrific place, with just the kind of books we like to find at reasonable prices and in excellent condition.

Avol’s Bookstore / Bookworks (with our car parked out front, stuffed with boxes of excellent books!)

We snagged a nice first trade edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence in a dustjacket;  Four Years in Paradise, by Osa Johnson,first edition in a jacket; several first editions by M.F.K. Fisher, four first editions by Freya Stark (one of my favorite women traveller/explorers!).  We felt like kids in a candy store.  You don’t often find these kinds of books under one roof (except maybe at Old Scrolls Book Shop (-: ) and we search far and wide to find them.  We would highly recommend a visit to these shops, especially Bookworks, if you are ever in Madison.

We hiked back to the parking garage and picked up our load of books with the car (and what a good little bookmobile she has been).   It was about 5:00pm when we found our way out of Madison and on to Rte. 94 and 35 heading south toward Illinois.

So tonight we find ourselves holed up for the night in Ottawa.  It’s a little town off of Rte. 80 just southwest of Chicago,  and we’ve finally stopped for the evening at a Holiday Express.  We had dinner at a nearby newish restaurant called Sunfest, run by a family from Macedonia who really know how to put on a feast.  Seriously, a huge plate of barbecued spare ribs, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, fresh salad, and a basket of bread for $6.99 — we had a martini (ME) and a rum & coke (RON) for a few dollars more.  What can I say — we were STARVING, as once again we were running on coffee all day.  Ron was a little upset this morning when we couldn’t find a Dunkin’ Donuts in Madison (nothin’ like running on Dunkin’), but he’s already got a Double D in his line of sight for tomorrow morning, even though they are scarcer than hen’s teeth here in the midwest.  He gets so excited when we find one!

We’ll hit the road early in the morning (if I ever finish this blog) and try to reach Ft. Wayne, Indiana by noon to visit one of our favorites — Hyde Brothers Books.

Catch up with you there!


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