The shop: This tidy and merrily decorated Lincoln Square gem is an independently owned neighborhood favorite and frequent venue for Chicago book-signings and readings. The contagious energy of owner Suzy Takacs and her fun-loving staff is clear in the lighthearted, and silly signs throughout the store that suggest books and indicate to shoppers that unattended children caught damaging books "will receive an espresso and a puppy from our staff."

Read local: The shop's inventory includes well-organized shelves of fiction, nonfiction and an impressive section devoted to children and young readers. The neighborhood gathering spot makes no secret of its support for local, small-press authors and publishers, and includes a monthly local author night on its impressive calendar of events.

Cafe: Serving coffee, tea, wine by the bottle or glass and a far-from-ordinary beer selection, The Book Cellar's menu is a delight as well, with its selection of small pastries and sandwiches to enjoy in the bookstore's cafe area.

Visit: Readers are welcome to the big, comfy armchairs nestled into the corners and nooks of the shop, as well as the cafe of The Book Cellar, to browse, read, relax and enjoy. Visit The Book Cellar at 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday; and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, or visit