About Us

Bookends & Beginnings is the independent bookstore Nina Barrett has dreamed of opening since she moved to Evanston in the late 1980s, but for a while both she and Evanston went in other directions. During the period when two large chain bookstores faced off downtown, Nina was raising two children and freelancing articles, essays, and reviews to Chicago and national publications. She published three books with Simon & Schuster, the first of which—I Wish Someone Had Told Me: A Realistic Guide to Early Motherhood—remains in print with Chicago Review Press. When she briefly tried to escape the world of words by getting a professional chef’s degree in 2007, she still wound up as a food reporter. Her “Fear of Frying” series for Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ earned three James Beard Award nominations and two actual awards, in 2012 and 2013.

Nina’s husband and bookstore partner Jeff Garrett (not a typo; they rhyme!) has been prolifically literate in two languages throughout a career as an internationally recognized expert on rare and specialized library collections, 18th and early 19th century German and Austrian library history, and global children’s literature. He served twice (2004 and 2006) as president of the Hans Christian Andersen awards jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and currently serves as secretary of the IBBY Board of Directors.

Their respective backgrounds are reflected in the store’s especially rich selections of food-related books and a selection of international children’s books in 26 languages.

Come visit the store that loyal customers love to call "the speakeasy for books":