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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Brightening bookstores: Lori Petrie

Bookseller brings cheer to 57th St. Books
Danny Aronsohn
Lori Petrie, bookseller at 57th St. Books, enjoys her job and interacts with customers. She loves the comfort of the bookstore and brings warmth to all who walk in.

Walking through the bright red door and descending down narrow stairs into the cozy nook covered ceiling to floor in books, customers of 57th Street Books are met with greetings from the friendly faces behind the checkout counter. Often standing there is Lori Petrie, who can usually be seen chatting with patrons, answering phone calls or laughing with colleagues, a friendly smile always featured in her expression.

Despite only having lived in Chicago for a couple of years since moving from Kentucky, Ms. Petrie has found her place at 57th Street Books, where her engaging conversations, welcoming demeanor and avid love of books — especially science fiction — contribute to the store’s warm atmosphere.

“I think local independent bookstores are some of the most amazing places in communities,” Ms. Petrie said, “and Chicago is just so blessed to have so many.”

After moving to Chicago during the pandemic to be closer to her partner’s job and attend Wheaton College, Ms. Petrie instantly took a liking to 57th Street Books, even before she started working there.

“That was already my bookshop, like my local indie that I used to get all my books from,” Ms. Petrie said. “Gosh, 57th Street Books is like my favorite place. Definitely my favorite place in the city.”

Although Ms. Petrie was already fond of the store, it wasn’t until she saw a social media post advertising that 57th Street Books was hiring, that she decided to apply. While Ms. Petrie wasn’t hired at first, her application was reconsidered for the fall and she became a bookseller at the store in September. 

In the couple months she’s been working at 57th Street Books, Ms. Petrie has come to treasure the store’s environment in new ways.

“I think what’s great about working in a bookstore is that people always come in to do something that they’re happy about,” she said. “Like, nobody comes into a bookstore and is like ‘Ugh, I’m so grumpy that I have to do this errand of buying a book.’ Everybody is just so happy.”

Ms. Petrie’s positive attitude and love of books is also seen by her coworkers. Sophia Abuabara, who has worked at 57th Street Books since September 2022, appreciates how reliable yet fun Ms. Petrie is.

“She can do everything whether it’s goofing off or getting down to business,” Ms. Abuabara said. “She’s really good at encompassing the multitudes of what we can do at the store.”

She also said she loves the interesting conversations the store’s location allows her to have with customers, as she believes Hyde Park is a “very transitionary area,” in that many residents — like University of Chicago students — are entering a new phase of their lives. 

“You’re just always meeting people who are doing some amazing thing that you have never heard of before,” Ms. Petrie said.

While she hasn’t worked at 57th Street Books for long, her love of books and the wonderful experiences she’s had with customers has made it so there’s no place Ms. Petrie feels more comfortable in than a bookstore. 

“It’s just so cozy,” Ms. Petrie said. “You have to walk down the little stairs to get in here, and it’s like descending into a little cozy cavern that’s full of books.”

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About the Contributors
Sahana Unni
Sahana Unni, Editor-in-Chief
Sahana Unni is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as an editor-in-chief. She began journalism as a ninth grader in the 2020-21 school year and has since appreciated the exposure to different ideas and perspectives. Her favorite story she has written is about the Jane Collective, a group of women who provided safe abortions before the procedure was legalized in the early 1970s. Outside of journalism, Sahana enjoys creative writing and reading, while also serving as an editor-in-chief of the Renaissance literary magazine and a captain of the Mock Trial team.
Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, special coverage: (with Audrey Park and Clare McRoberts) superior 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: First place, personal opinion: on-campus issues, "New auditorium name at odds with values" 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Second place (with Zara Siddique), photo layout: full page (Page 3) 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, news feature, “Dazzling drag city” 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, online package 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Cultural feature, certificate of merit, "‘Bridgerton’ effectively represents Indian culture" 2022 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, St. Louis convention: Honorable mention, feature writing 2020 National Scholastic Press Association Fall Best of Show: Sixth Place, Election Reporting (contributor), “As trailblazer for multiple identities, Harris inspires students”
Danny Aronsohn
Danny Aronsohn, Photographer
Danny Aronsohn is a photographer and a member of the Class of 2026. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking photos of his friends in the Lab community. Outside of photojournalism, Danny enjoys playing soccer and is interested in producing beats on SoundCloud.  

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