Students looking for cheap reads, a way to express their artistic sides and monthly open mic nights are bound to end up at a new bookstore a few blocks from campus.
Lit. on Fire Used Books, located at 929 N. Sheridan Road, opened in July and offers a variety of more than 3,800 books.
“I’ve had a handful of donations, but most everything in my stock right now I have scouted out myself,” owner Jessica Stephenson said. “[I’ve] hand-picked them and hand-cleaned them. I put a lot of work and love into each book.”
Students are able to find books not only for leisure, but also for educational purposes, according to Stephenson.
“I don’t have textbooks, but a lot of times I end up with some really academic titles,” she said. “I actually had two students in the first month say, ‘Oh my gosh, I need this book for school’.”
Stephenson said she decided to open her own store because she loves being surrounded by books.
“The moment I decided to buy my first book with the intention to sell it was the moment that everything started happening and falling into place,” Stephenson said.
One of the steps toward opening the store was acquiring bookshelves, which visitors are able to draw on.
“I’ve gone around with Sharpies in my purse and if I find the right place, yeah, I’m going to whip that Sharpie out in the bathroom and write all over your stall,” Stephenson said. “It’s just one of those rebel things that I’ve always welcomed in my world, so I thought it would be really cool if everyone could come in and leave their own mark here.”
Sophomore journalism major Alice Allpow said the bookshelves add to the relaxed atmosphere of the store.
“The space feels very comfortable,” Allpow said. “I love the writing and drawing on the shelves. My friends and I all added a few of our own words to the shelves, mostly quotes from books and little mantras that we live by.”
The bookstore also hosts monthly open mic nights that include poetry, acoustic music and a book signing with a local author.
“It’s been hugely successful so far,” Stephenson said. “I want to do everything I can to support the local scene.”
Allpow attended the most recent open mic night and said the environment was very welcoming.
“My friends and I all performed pieces and saw some really interesting performances from a variety of folks,” Allpow said.
The next open mic night will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 and features Joe Chianakas, author of the horror book “Rabbit in Red.”
Stephenson said she hopes to grow her store and move into a bigger space while staying near her current location.
“I love this neighborhood because it’s welcoming to youth, being artistic and embracing your academics,” Stephenson said.
However, Allpow said students might miss the opportunity of visiting the bookstore because of its location.
“I do wish [the shop was] less hidden away,” Allpow said. “It’s in the back of that studio complex, so it would be easy to pass it up.”
Lit. on Fire Used Books offers a 10 percent discount to student, senior and military customers.