11 Indie Chicago Bookstores We Love

Independent bookstores are the beating heart that keeps our love of reading alive and well. Often more willing to take risks than traditional big-box retailers, hardworking indies support innovative, important writing, introduce readers to new authors and bring literary cultural events to heartland cities.

This month, we’re turning the spotlight on standout independent bookshops in Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Nashville. Read on for the first installment in this series, a roundup of eleven stellar Chicago booksellers.

Open books chicago indie bookstore alive magazine st louis

Photo credit: Read It & Eat

Read It & Eat, Lincoln Park
Read It & Eat’s name says it all—this bookstore sells cookbooks and food-related nonfiction, plus cooking classes and author/chef book signings.

Unabridged Books, Lakeview
Fiction, poetry, children’s books, small press, LGBTQ lit—this Lakeview mainstay, voted “Best Bookstore in Chicago 2015” by Chicago Magazine, has extensive offerings with something to fit every interest.

Curbside Books & Records, The Loop
This small book and record shop run by Chicago indie press Curbside Splendor has a carefully curated collection of mostly contemporary books published by independent presses.

Women and Children First, Edgewater
Fondly known as the feminist bookstore that inspired Portlandia’s “Women and Women First” skit, this shop has every kind of book you could want, plus event programming that spotlights female authors.

The Seminary Co-op/57th Street Books, Hyde Park
While The Seminary Co-op is best known for its array of academic titles, 57th Street Books, also a customer-owned store, has an A+ selection of general interest and popular reads.

Myopic, Wicker Park
A haven of used books, Myopic has a labyrinth of bookshelves you could spend a few days browsing through. Their collection is extensive—a great place to look for rare gems or bestsellers.

Open books chicago indie bookstore alive magazine st louis

Photo credit: Open Books

Open Books, West Loop and Pilsen
Nonprofit Open Books operates two bookshops that support its literacy enrichment and book donation programs. Although both shops have a range of titles for adult readers, they’re especially great for children’s and young adult reads.

Uncharted Books, Logan Square
Uncharted has gently used and vintage books, friendly staff, mysterious décor and a sweet dog-in-residence named Ramona.

Pilsen Community Books, Pilsen
A light and bright shop, Pilsen Community Bookstore sells used and new books and gives significant support to local youth literacy through their book giveaway program.

The Book Cellar, Lincoln Square
A combined café and bookstore, The Book Cellar is the perfect place to curl up in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and a brand-new book.

City Lit Books, Logan Square
This welcoming shop has friendly employees, spot-on, handwritten staff recommendations and a regular lineup of author and reading group events.

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