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My Dream Bookstore: Books, Bocce Ball, and Beer

Aram Mrjoian

Staff Writer

Aram Mrjoian is a contributor at Book Riot and the Chicago Review of Books. His reviews and essays have also appeared in Necessary Fiction, The Adroit Journal blog, and The Awesome Mitten. His stories are published or forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Limestone, The Great Lakes Book Project, and others. He is currently working toward his MFA in creative writing at Northwestern University, where he is a fiction editor at TriQuarterly. Twitter: @AMrjoian575

Back when I was in college, my good friend Tom and I always joked about opening a bookstore-bar hybrid. We usually referred to it as “Books & Beers” or “The Sacred Pint,” which is a reference to Ulysses. Of course, at the time I don’t think either of us realized that a lot of brilliant book bars already existed. Not only are there a ton of awesome literary pubs, but a smart couple in Indiana improved on the title Tom and I had settled on, bringing Books & Brews to fruition last year.

In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought no one could’ve had this idea before. I mean books and booze are a logical combination. After all, think of all the great alcohol-related adages we owe to our literary heroes. For a while I just figured I was too late to the party, which is often the case. Then I realized I have another favorite pastime that starts with a B–bocce ball.

I know the idea of a bookstore-bocce-bar sounds a little cluttered, but it pretty much places all of my favorite things in one venue. If I were to ever open such an establishment, I would want it to be in an old observatory or loft. There would need to be a lot of natural light. Something in the vein of Roy Choi’s new restaurant. Here’s a sketch I made of a potential layout:

Books, Bocce Ball, Beer

Books, Bocce Ball, Beer


I imagine an older crowd coming around in the morning. I forgot to include it in this drawing, but pretend one of those bookshelves holds magazines, newspapers, and journals. In my fairy-ideal-dreamworld I picture people drinking espresso and reading the newspaper, playing games of bocce intermittently as the morning waned.

In the afternoon hopefully there would be a decent bookstore crowd browsing new titles, maybe while indulging in an early glass of wine or beer.

Then at night there would be a bocce-bar crowd, as well as literary events. Notice the stage in the corner. My thought process is that during author readings that particular location would allow spectators to comfortably enjoy indoor lawn seats. Simply close down the bocce courts during an event, and let the literati throw down picnic blankets and enjoy the show.

Anyway, from the few people I’ve ran this by I’ve gotten very mixed responses. Keep in mind the drawing is an extremely rough draft. I’d love to hear the thoughts of others! Feel free to share your wild bookstore ideas in the comments.