Located in the same space as filmfront—some displays of books will be moved out of the way during film screenings—Inga focuses on independent and small-press publishing. The eclectic collection spans poetry, essays on film and art, critical theory, typeface design, books in languages other than English, and magazines on art and feminism.
“It’s really a reflection of our bookshelves at home,” co-founder Jacob Lindgren said of the store’s selection. “It’s things we really like and are really keen to get other people interested in as well.”
Many books were created by international authors or published by international presses. Throughout the afternoon’s opening party, visitors browsed books like Move Along, an “instruction manual for open ended games, actions and interventions to untrain the body and recondition space,” from Netherlands-based Onomatopee Projects; or flipped through an issue of OOF: The Art and Football Magazine, a British magazine exploring intersections of fine art and soccer. Many people appeared intrigued by a small red book titled Teaching for People who Prefer Not To Teach, a humorous guide from London-based AND Publishing.
All of Inga’s stock will soon be available online, co-founder Malia Haines-Stewart said: “Though we’re really dedicated to being conducive for a community bookshop in Chicago, it just feels like since so many of our books are coming from around the world, it’s really a cool resource to make it available as widely as possible.”
As she rang up a customer at the front, Haines-Stewart told the customer she was lucky: one of the books she had chosen, Sheere Ng’s This is Not a Food Magazine—an essay collection exploring Singapore through the lens of food-—was one of only a few remaining copies in print.
“[Our collection is] gonna have to keep growing, it’s stuff that once it’s sold out it’s gonna be pretty hard to come across,” co-founder Alan Medina explained.
As customers browsed and mingled, they enjoyed a homemade treat from Chicago poet Imani Elizabeth Jackson, who would give a reading at the party: roasted cherry and pepper ice cream garnished with inga beans, and tamarind ginger sorbet.
The store was packed by 4:30pm, when Medina announced that the poetry reading would begin shortly in the backyard. People gathered in the yard as Jackson took her place at a chair with a bowl of peas in hand and read from a text called “Fabaceae,” which she’d written for the occasion. She paused throughout the reading to pass around the peas for people to share—a nod to the poem’s narrator helping her grandmother shell peas as a child.
Risograph prints of “Fabaceae” were available for free in the bookshop, along with postcards showing the pods of the store’s namesake, Inga trees, which grow in South and Central America and are often planted to provide shade for other trees. “It’s a nitrogen-fixing and soil-reparative tree so it does all these positive things in its environment,” Haines-Stewart explained. “Filmfront has existed in this space for four years now, so the idea of having another project that could come in and share values and share space in an ecological sense, that metaphor felt like it would be right.”
Inga, 1740 W. 18th St. Open Sundays, 11am–4pm, and Mondays, 1pm–8pm. On August 18 from 5pm–7pm, Inga will host Jack Henrie Fisher, of the design and publishing project Other Forms, for the launch of “Avid Readers 4: A Lecture on Reading,” an experimental collective reading event. i-n-g-a.com
Helena Duncan is a writer based in Hyde Park. She last wrote for the Weekly in July about the brief life of Hyde Park’s Sanctuary Cafe.