Bookstore opens new chapter in Evanston: "One of the joys of independent bookstores is that each uniquely reflects the personalities of its owner. Among the mix of new, used and bargain books at Bookends & Beginnings is a cooking section that Nina calls her pride and joy. A two-time James Beard Award-winner for her WBEZ show, "Fear of Frying," Nina has curated a "destination" selection of cookbooks, ranging from Yotam Ottolenghi to small-press neighborhood and regional offerings, such as the Ravinia Festival's "Noteworthy" cookbook...Jeffrey's expertise is on display in the children's section, which is overseen by Glenda, a fiberglass giraffe purchased at auction. The store features an expansive selection of international children's books and Spanish-language books along with chapter books for pre-teen and young adult readers."​​

Chicagoans of the Year in Literature: Defenders of the Book:: "But would there even be a book community in Chicago to talk about without, you know, local booksellers? ...The video store (or what's left of it) is running on fumes, the record store is a haven for aficionados and nostalgia. But these new bookstore owners are making a compelling case for the viability of the bookstore, a future rooted in a not-particularly-virtual understanding of what 'community' means."


Lit 50 2015 Who Really Books in Chicago: "Barrett has crafted a bookstore unique in both its coziness and eclectic mix of products. They offer new and used books, hard-to-find books in twenty-six different languages, and a huge cookbook section. Already an integral part of the Evanston literary community, Barrett collaborated this past May with the first-ever Evanston Literary Festival which included hosting six events in her store. In addition to her career as a bookseller Barrett, is also the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and is putting the finishing touches on her fourth book about the 1924 Leopold and Loeb murders."

When first opening Bookends & Beginnings, Nina and Jeff were interviewed by WBEZ about the resurgence of independent bookstores in the age of Amazon and the decline of big-box booksellers. Nina was also interviewed about the ongoing popularity of cookbooks who are in competition with recipe websites and apps, as well as her selections for the best cookbooks of 2015.

Bookstores can’t die if they keep being born​: "The message behind someone opening a bookstore in Evanston is not only that there’s a new bookstore in Evanston, but it’s never too late to chase your dreams."


"The new store has a character all its own, as do its multi-talented owners. The non-intrusive sales counter tucked in to the left of the entry, the colorful quilts and artwork on the walls and vibrant jewelry and stationery also for sale – and of course, the shelves and tables of books – greet one in a happy mix of colors and textures."

"The shop, only in its infancy, already feels like a favorite grandmother’s living room: thick rugs cover creaky wood floors, soft jazz tinkles quietly, light from the windows takes on a magical, dusty quality."


"Open since June 2014, this quaint bookshop offers an eclectic mix of new, [used] and speciality discount books in the former space of Bookman’s Alley. Owner Nina Barrett (an award-winning journalist) seeks out titles that appeal to the community's educated, diverse population, and regularly organizes events, author readings, workshops and more."

"Tucked away down the Alley, it almost feels like a speakeasy of the 1920's. You are in the know to find your way there, and go inside to get drunk on books."

"This is the best bookstore. Everyone who walks in agrees after two minutes. New, used, bestsellers; the interesting, the most literary alongside the very readable."

"An independent book store, as good as they come, where it's all about the books and the local community. Enjoyed my first visits and started ordering my books here instead of Amazon."