A Book Lover’s Guide To Chicago

Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace | © Teemu008/Wikicommons
Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace | © Teemu008/Wikicommons
Photo of Samantha Looney
2 November 2016

As wonderful as the Kindle and iPad are for reading books on a plane or at the beach, there is something about wandering around a bookstore and flipping through the pages of a book and smelling that “bookstore” smell that can’t be beat. Get ready to grab a warm cup of coffee, cozy up in the corner, and forget the world at the best literary spots in Chicago.

Myopic Bookstore

Park, Store
Myopic Bookstore is filled from floor to ceiling with used books. This is the perfect place to spend a rainy Saturday roaming around all three floors full of books including fiction, art, music, film, religion, sci-fi, and children’s sections. Between the old paper smell, the live music series, and the poetry readings, you’ll feel as though you died and went to literary heaven. Book buying hours are on Fridays from 6pm – 10pm and Saturdays from 9am – 4pm.

Roscoe Books

This independent bookstore is full of local charm with handwritten “staff favorite” notes and community events. The store has a wide array of sections from cookbooks to biographies, but it is best known for its large children’s section. With story time twice a week, book clubs, and Sunday Stories & Puppet Making, this is the perfect place to help turn your child into a book lover as well. They also sell unique local Chicago prints, cards, and literary gifts.

Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday, Saturday: 10am – 7pm; Thursday, Friday: 10am – 8pm; Sunday: 11am – 7pm

Ernest Hemingway's Birthplace and Museum

Museum, Park
Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace and Museum in Oak Park, Illinois | © Teemu008 / Flickr
Any literary junkie will be thrilled at the chance to see the first home of literary genius Ernest Hemingway. Take a tour of the house and catch a glimpse of some of his first writings, original letters, items from his family, and photographs.

Opening Hours: Wednesday to Friday: 1pm – 5pm; Saturday: 10am – 5pm; Sunday: 1pm – 5pm

The Book Cellar

Bookstore, Store
The Book Cellar
Enjoy a cup of tea with your novel at The Book Cellar | © Liz Rice
Located in Lincoln Square, The Book Cellar is the perfect place for the classy literary sage. The store is small and has an intimate aura. There is a small café inside, and you can even sip on a glass of wine or a craft beer while perusing books.

Opening Hours: Monday, Wednesday to Saturday: 10am – 10pm; Tuesday and Sunday: 12pm – 6pm

Printer’s Row Lit Festival

Printer’s Row Lit Festival

Printing House Row used to be home to (you guessed it!) several of Chicago’s first printing houses. During the first week of June, be sure to catch the annual Printer’s Row Lit Festival. Booksellers line the streets and famous authors host readings. And the best part? It is all free! That is, if you can refrain from buying all the unique books and literary gifts.

Read It & Eat

Read It & Eat, a culinary bookstore, is modeled after Librairie Gourmande in Paris. The store is half bookstore, half kitchen space. The bookstore is filled with cookbooks, food history books, and food memoirs. The kitchen side is used for events and demonstrations with local chefs.

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 11am – 6pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am – 7pm

Women and Children First

Women & Children First, Chicago
Women & Children First, Chicago | courtesy of Women & Children First
With the motto, “shop as independently as you think,” this forward-thinking bookstore is sure to get your heart and mind fired up. Located in Andersonville, Women and Children First definitely has a feminist vibe; however, the store contains over 30,000 books, so there is something for everyone.

Opening Hours: Monday and Tuesday: 11am – 7pm; Wednesday to Friday: 11am – 9pm; Saturday: 10am – 7pm; Sunday: 11am – 6pm


In this bright, two floor bookstore, you can choose from over 70,000 new and used books. From fiction and poetry, to health and photography, After-Words has just about every book you could ever need. They also have a space available to be rented out for private parties.

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday: 10.30am – 10pm; Friday: 10.30am – 11pm; Saturday: 10am – 11pm; Sunday: 12pm – 7pm

h Street Books

Located in Hyde Park near the University of Chicago, the art of history and knowledge is not lost at 57th Street Books. There are many academic and intellectual books as well as bibliographies throughout the store; however, it also includes a large children’s section. Be prepared to wander through the maze of floor to ceiling books, and before you know it, you’ll be lost in a literary trance.

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 10am – 8pm Samantha Looney

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