Read Local

Mystery to Me’s Lit Niche
By Joyce Novacek
Photos Courtesy  Kaia Calhoun

Pushing back against an increasingly electronic—and paperless—grain, Joanne Berg retired from UW-Madison and opened an independent bookstore on Monroe Street in 2013.

“It’s really a community space,” says Berg, wandering past the welcoming store’s green walls, cozy armchairs, children’s corner and an abundance of books—mystery and non-mystery alike. Post-it notes offering staff reviews adorn some covers, showcase upcoming events and highlight local authors.

Berg’s foray into mystery began by reading the “Nancy Drew” series as a child and checking the books out, librarian style, to her friends. Now, she has a wider audience. The store serves as a home base for five book clubs and has hosted over 200 events since opening. “We really want to get to know our customers and what they want to read,” she says.

And, the staff’s attentive service has created a loyal customer base. “I’m going 100 percent on your recommendation with this one,” one patron at the register tells Berg. There’s no mystery about the store’s appeal—the personalized attention often missing from big chains and websites is bound to delight any reader.

1863 Monroe St., Madison. mysterytomebooks.com.