If you're the type who cuddles up under the duvet with the New York Times every Sunday, we hear you. Lazy rituals are lovely, but there's something to be said for expanding your horizons, and Chicago's independent cafes are our destination of choice. Paired with a great book, the local flavor served at these indie outposts will give your day an extra authentic jolt of energy.
Get cozy at Cafe Avanti
An air of lighthearted whimsy wafts through this cafe, perched atop a stairway and modestly set back from the cutesy Southport Corridor. Readers with weak eyes will rejoice at the flood of light that matches Avanti's sunny disposition. Despite the floor-to-ceiling polka dot and stripe motif, the minimal chatter, unobtrusive soundtrack of artists like Astrud Gilberto and ample supply of wooden chairs make it a perfect place to settle for hours. If you're tackling a real page-turner, order a build-your-own sandwich, which comes with a side of animal crackers and a paper fortune.
Pair your book with wine at MoJoe's Hot House
If you're the type who enjoys wine with your words, make a mad dash to BYOB-friendly MoJoe's armed with a book and a bottle. Arrive on a Saturday afternoon and you'll likely find yourself greeted by a stage full of fiddle-strumming fellers. As long as you like a little music in the background, the live crooning is less disruptive than disarming. Snag a seat on the plush velvet couches or faux-fur covered booths and nibble at a sweet treat as you sip and scanNote to modern American lit-lovers: great books abound, so no need to worry should you forget your novel at home.
Early bird gets the table at Intelligentsia Coffee (Lakeview)
Heading to Lakeview's Intelligentsia Cafe on a late Sunday morning is not for the impatient at heart; you'll recognize the regulars by their unabashed territorial tendency to hawk over any table that's verging on vacant. So if you're going to read, make like an early bird or arrive at an off-hour mid-week for the ideal Intelligentsia experience. Its unbeatable lattes, thick slices of zucchini and pumpkin bread and airy atmosphere (before the crowds arrive) make it simply irresistible. Curl up one of the plump couches or stake a spot at generous-size wooden table and watch the hours come and go.
It's a professor's paradise at the Bourgeois Pig
This Lincoln Park coffee shop exhibits more quirkiness than all of Lincoln Park combined. Featuring a menu of sandwiches and salads with names like "The Sun Also Rises," and "Catcher in the Rye," along with seemingly infinite jars of loose tea and a whopping dictionary set on a pedestal by the entrance, it's the quintessential English professor's paradise. Avoid the banter of DePaul students and profs by heading straight up upstairs to grab a couch or table in the unofficially designated "quiet room." Beware: soft light and comfy seating can turn any speed-reader into a sleepy head.
Silent, sustained reading at Swim Cafe
Students working their way through dense school reading will savor the flavor at this daytime-only cafe, where near silence is golden (and not uncommon). There's nary a distraction, with a sparse but even flow of customers mid-day. But drenched in intense shades of aqua, with bright lighting and not the cushiest of seating (hard wood benches and chairs), it's easy to stay pert and alert for hours. When you need a boost, warm your paws around the bowl-size porcelain cups of coffee and order up a plate full of bite-size brownies or mini muffins baked earlier that morning.