When visiting Chicago, reading through a list of independent bookstores can be overwhelming. Where should you go when you’re visiting? If we built an itinerary for you, we’d start with your travel destination. Will you be visiting the south, west, or north side of Chicago? Sticking to the loop? You don’t have to go far to find a great independent bookstore in Chicago. Here are just a handful of great spots this city has to offer.
The Dial Bookshop – It is very likely you’ll end up on Michigan Avenue at some point in your Chicago travels. While there, be sure to make your way to The Dial, a bookstore located in the Fine Arts building. Walk through the doors to this beautiful historic building, take the elevator the second floor, and explore the shelves of this surprisingly refreshing bookstore, housed in an unexpected place.
Open Books – As a non-profit used bookstore just one “L” stop from the loop, Open Books is a dream for every bargain seeker. Open Books has a huge children’s book section, a well-stocked, used book section, and new books you can find on the shelves of any large bookstore. You’ll walk out the door with your books, feeling good contributing to a non-profit organization that supports children’s reading programs in its everyday work.
Women & Children First – A feminist bookstore in operation for 40 years, located in the Andersonville neighborhood where you’ll find not just a community staple, but also a well-loved store that houses author events, a large children’s section, and extremely knowledgeable booksellers. After you’ve picked out a book, stroll around this fabulous neighborhood and get a bite to eat at local favorites Hopleaf, or the local diner A Taste of Heaven.
Pilsen Community Books – You know those bookstores with wall-to-wall bookshelves, from ceiling to floor? Those stores where all you want to do is pull an old book off the shelf, find a comfortable chair in the corner, and never leave? Pilsen Community Books is exactly that place. A very new bookstore housing both new and used books, Pilsen Community Books is a dreamy place to find your next book. Don’t leave any page unturned, and be sure to follow them on Instagram, where they share dreamy pictures of beautiful books.
The Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books – Independent bookstores are not as prevalent on the Southside. With added investment in economic development in these neighborhoods, we can only hope that will change one day. In the meantime, have no fear – you can enjoy the illustrious University of Chicago on the Southside, full of beautiful buildings and books galore. 57th Street Books offers a little bit of everything, including a children’s section with a fun story hour, and Seminary Co-op, which claims to house one of the largest collections of academic books in the world (we’ve seen it in person – it is expansive!). These are definitely worth Chicago out when you are in town.
Did we miss any of your favorite Chicago bookstores? Where would you visit when you’re in town?