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Open Stacks

On Open Stacks, we bring you conversations with scholars, poets, novelists and activists on books that surprise challenge delight and impress. Here, as in our stores, the most seasoned of readers can once again feel a sense of wonder in discovering a book.
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Now displaying: 2021
Oct 15, 2021

On this episode, authors, publishers, editors and booksellers reflect on the value of their work, and what it takes to make a great bookstore thrive. Plus, an out-of-the-way reading list from our bookseller Mrittika: queer historical fiction... thrillers.

For more from the voices you hear in this episode, a list of books mentioned, music credits, and instructions for sending us audio of yourself reading writing that you love, visit us here.

Sep 23, 2021

On this episode of open stacks: a ghostly tour of the Co-op's Front Table, from the hauntings of american history to life (and death) advice from Spinoza.

For a list of books featured in this episode, music and production credits, and more, visit our website.

Sep 9, 2021

This time on Open Stacks we hear from Philip Leventhal, editor at Columbia University Press and veteran Co-opian, about the history of the famous Front Table catalog, in its print and digital forms. Then we head to the Front Table (the actual table) for some recent titles on underground transformation.

Philip Leventhal is Senior Editor at Columbia University Press, acquiring titles in Journalism, Film and Media Studies, and Literary Studies. He also worked at the Co-op for many years, and was the managing editor of The Front Table, the Co-op's print catalog and newsletter. Last year we revived The Front Table as a digital publication, featuring bookseller recommendations and notable titles, author interviews, news and numbers from the Co-op, and much more. You can read every issue of the digital Front Table here, and find many of the original print issues on display in the vestibule leading into the Co-op.

Thanks to our Children's Marketing Manager, Thulasi, for sharing a passage from Inkheart for this episode, released only a week or so after the re-opening of 57th Street Books for in-person browsing. We'd love to hear something wonderful you've read recently. Find instructions for recording yourself and sharing your reading with us here.

Open Stacks is hosted by Alena Jones and produced by Jackson Roach. This episode features music by Blue Dot Sessions, Loyalty Freak Music, Daniel Birch, Joni Void, and LJ Kruzer.

Find a list of every book mentioned in this episode here.

Aug 26, 2021

On this episode of Open Stacks with Katarzyna Bartoszyńska and Reuben Jonathan Miller, we trace paths between: academia and bookselling; Poland and Ireland; animal navigation and interpersonal knowledge; the inside and the outside of the American prison.

For a complete list of books mentioned in this episode, music credits, and supplementary materials, click here.

Want to submit a passage you've dog-eared? Click here.

Aug 5, 2021

On this episode of Open Stacks, books from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow. In the middle of the Summer, a stack of Front Table books from the heart(s) of Winter.


Thanks to bookseller Joey for sharing a favorite passage from Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives. If you want to share something you read with us (and other listeners' like you), send us a voice memo. We'd love to hear about what you're reading.


Open Stacks is hosted by Alena Jones, the director of buying and content. Bryce Lucas, the Co-op's manager, is our Front Table correspondent. Jackson Roach is the producer. This episode features music by Loyalty Freak Music, Gallery Six, and Keshco.


Find a list of every book mentioned in this episode here.

Jul 22, 2021

On this episode of Open Stacks: a prismatic exploration of new releases at the Front Table, an editorial dialogue with Elizabeth Branch Dyson and Eve Ewing, and Ann Kjellberg on a life in publishing, Joseph Brodsky, and how serious books connect us to one another and the world.

Elizabeth Branch Dyson is Assistant Editorial Director and Executive Editor at The University of Chicago Press. She also appears on the first episode of this season of Open Stacks. Eve Ewing is a sociologist, activist writer, assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, and dear friend of the Seminary Co-op.

Ann Kjellberg is an editor, publisher, writer and translator, the literary executor of the estate of Joseph Brodsky, and the creator of the book culture newsletter Book Post.

Run into some great writing lately? Read it to us! We want to know what draws you in as a reader, and we're always excited to feature listeners' voices on the show. Find everything you need to send us a passage right here.

Open Stacks is hosted by Alena Jones and produced by Jackson Roach. This episode features music by Keshco, Los Amparito, Lee Rosevere, Andrei Pohorelsky, and Loyalty Freak Music, as well as excerpts from a talk given by Kurt Vonnegut at Case Western Reserve University in 2004.

Find a list of every book mentioned in this episode here.

Jul 8, 2021

On this episode of Open Stacks, a circle around the Co-op’s Front Table: from a post-war pioneer of Afrofuturism on Chicago’s South Side to the complex communal powers of games like spades, mahjong, and pickup soccer.

Thanks to Bryce Lucas for taking us on a tour of the Front Table this time. In this episode, you hear fragments of archival recordings of Sun Ra, including brief excerpts from his film Space is the Place and the track "If You Are Not A Myth" from his album The Sub-Dwellers. You also hear Aleksandar Hemon reading at the 2012 Grand Opening of the Co-op's current location. If you'd like to hear more from Hanif Abdurraqib, you might start with his appearance on Open Stacks in May of 2019, and then check out his own podcast, Object of Sound, or his 1980-focused season of the KCRW show Lost Notes.

This episode's passage of the week comes from Philip Roth, by way of Alex at the Co-op. Have you read something recently that moved you, surprised you, made you laugh, or that you couldn't stop thinking about? Tell us about it, or just read it aloud.

Open Stacks is hosted by Alena Jones and produced by Jackson Roach. This episode features music by Daniel Birch and Blue Dot Sessions.

Find a complete list of every book mentioned in this episode on our website.

Jun 25, 2021

On this episode of Open Stacks, we celebrate the Co-op reopening its doors for in-person browsing – the first time since we closed 15 months ago. Browsers, booksellers, authors, and our own Clancey D'Isa and Bryce Lucas discuss the transfiguration of space, absence and presence, the "invisible" work of bookselling, and how reading needn't be a solo activity.

Have you read something recently (or over the last year) that moved you, that made you laugh, that you can't stop thinking about, or, simply, that changed you? We'd love to hear you reading an excerpt from the book. Click here to find everything you need to know to send us a voicemail – and you might hear yourself on the show sometime!

Open Stacks is produced by Jackson Roach and hosted by Alena Jones. This episode features music by Loyalty Freak Music, Blue Dot Sessions, Daniel Birch, Gallery Six, and Andrei Pohorelsky, as well as excerpts from virtual events co-hosted by the Seminary Co-op and our myriad community partners over the last year.

For a complete list of books mentioned in this episode, as well as details about the events you heard excerpts from, click here.

Jun 9, 2021

In this episode, Alena takes a tour around the Front Table, guided by Bryce Lucas, manager of 57th Street Books. Circling the table, they move from bald philosophy to the physics of crumpled paper, from an Icelandic fisheries museum to the shifting nature of observation itself.

Have a perspective to share? We'll be featuring listeners' voices throughout the season. This time: tell us about a book you loved on first reading, but hated the second time around – or vice versa. Share the story of your change in perspective, and your favorite (or least favorite) passage from the book. Find recording guidelines and send in your answer here

Open Stacks is hosted by Alena Jones and produced by Jackson Roach. This episode features music by johnny_ripper, Daniel Birch, and Andrei Pohorelsky.

Find a list of books mentioned in this episode here.

May 26, 2021

In this first episode of the fourth season, we sit down with Elizabeth Branch Dyson, assistant editorial director and executive editor at the University of Chicago Press, to hear how she approaches acquiring widely accessible books for an academic press. Bryce (manager of 57th Street Books) takes us on a tour around the Co-op's Front Table, checking out a few recent releases. We're then joined by poet, author, and publisher Haki Madhubuti, who talks to us about his journey through books, the founding of Third World Press, and the draw of the Front Table. Throughout, we hear "spine poems" composed by booksellers at the Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books.
 

Have something to say? We'll be featuring listeners' voices throughout the season. First up: tell us about a meaningful book you've come across accidentally in the past year. We'd love to hear the story behind your discovery or even just your favorite passage. Submit your answers through this form here.
 

Open Stacks is hosted by Alena Jones (director of buying and content) and produced by Jackson Roach.
 
This episode features music by Daniel Birch, johnny_ripperjunior85, and alright lover.
 

For a close-to-complete list of books featured in this (and every) episode, head to our website: semcoop.com/openstacks
 
May 14, 2021

A new season of Open Stacks, coming soon from the Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago, the first not-for-profit bookstores whose mission is bookselling.

This teaser features music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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