Book Nomads – Inside Out!

Long road trips do take their toll.  A person gets a little punchy after awhile.  Early this morning in Madison, Wisconsin Ron went down to get us coffee in the hotel lobby and while he was there, spent considerable time chatting with a bunch of policemen who were congregating for a seminar on kidnapping.  When he finally got to me with the coffee, I told him he had his shirt on INSIDE OUT!


After awhile you forget what day it is (notice I’m not numbering the days anymore), and begin to wonder where you put the toothpaste.  You wake up in the middle of the night trying to remember which direction to go to find the bathroom  and what town you are in.

We did eventually pull ourselves together and got on with some good book scouting in Madison.  More on that in a minute.

We are coming to you tonight from Elgin, Illinois, on the edge of Chicago after driving through torrential rain and tornado and hail warnings on our way south on Interstate 90 out of Madison, Wisconsin.   Should have known something was up — when we left the parking garage in Madison, here are the signs we saw:





Somebody was trying to tell us something!   The weather was humid but fairly pleasant while we were in the beautiful city of Madison. Our biggest problem was trying to decide which book store to visit first!


Paul’s Books on the left…

Paul's Books, Madison, Wisconsin

Paul’s Books, 670 State St., Madison, Wisconsin

or Browzer’s on the right…

Browzer's Books, Madison, Wisconsin

Browzers Bookshop, Madison, Wisconsin

We had visited both of these book shops three years ago, and had found oodles of books to our liking.   Paul’s was open first, so that’s where we started.  The store was open, but the dogs were still sleeping…

Sleeping dogs at Paul's Book Store, Madison, WI

Sleeping dogs at Paul’s Book Store, Madison, WI

I would recommend this shop to anyone who loves used books.  Wide range of subject areas, nice selection of history, foreign language, literature, scholarly works both old and recent.  We were focusing on decorated cloth bindings in our search, and we didn’t find too much in that area, but it’s an interesting bookstore with a good breadth of subject areas.

Interior of Paul's Books

Interior of Paul’s Books

Oddly, the only decorated binding we found here was one which had actually been stripped from its text block and nailed to the wall!


Next door at Browzer’s (668 State Street, Madison, WI) we found Mark, who had helped us out three years ago when we visited the store.  It was great to see him again!

Mark at his post in Browzer's Book Store, Madison, Wisconsin

Mark at his post in Browzer’s Book Store, Madison, Wisconsin

We had a great time here, and spent a couple of hours finding many books that fit our want list perfectly, and having fun conversations with Mark.  Nice selection of decorated American trade bindings, old children’s books, big fiction section with lots of vintage titles, plus cases and cases of rarities and plenty of non-fiction as well.   A wonderful book shop!   We felt like two kids in a candy store.

We left there HAPPY with some really nice books, and then popped across the street for a little refreshment at State Street Brats.   We met some college students who were glad to take our picture for us.  Madison is a friendly city!


State Street Brats, 603 State Street, Madison, WI

We were looking forward to visiting Avol’s Book Shop afterwards, even though we had heard it had changed hands since our last visit.  It is now combined with A Room of One’s Own Book Store.   We remembered Avol’s being combined with “Bookworks” when we were here in 2010, and between them they had a superb selection of books.  Now it is almost exclusively new books, mugs, aprons, etc. with a few recent used titles intermixed with the new.  We left the store empty-handed and a little sad.  “Change,” we were told by the lady at the counter, “happens.”  (Change isn’t always good!)

We had a bite to eat at Brick House Barbecue, 408 West Gorham Street.  They had fabulous blackened catfish sandwiches, and great hushpuppies!

blackened catfish on a hoagie from Brickhouse BBQ in Madison, WI

blackened catfish on a hoagie from Brickhouse BBQ in Madison, WI

Then we hit the road again, heading southeast on I-90 toward Chicago.  We still have an eye on Evanston.  If you remember, we tried to book scout there on our way west, but arrived at night and couldn’t find an available hotel room.  We are going to try again tomorrow!  Not far south of Madison, the skies had become very black and threatening.  Soon we were driving through heavy rain, lightning, and pretty deep water on the Interstate, which is under construction.  There were tornado and heavy hail warnings.

See what we go through to bring fine books to our shop??  I’m picturing our car being swirled up in a twister and us with it…me screaming “Aunty Em, Aunty Em!” as I watch our booty of books fluttering away in a funnel-shaped cloud…

We drove for miles through these conditions and then got off the road at Elgin, Illinois, where we found a nice comfortable room for the night.

Our home for the night - Country Inn & Suites, Elgin, Illinois

Our home for the night – Country Inn & Suites, Elgin, Illinois

We skipped through the rain over to a nearby sturdy BRICK bar and grill for a little something to calm the nerves.

Jimmy's Charhouse, Elgin, Illinois

Jimmy’s Charhouse, Elgin, Illinois



We’ll let you know if we make it to some book shops in Evanston, Illinois tomorrow!


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