Chicago Bookstore Tour

June 5, 2016

Books have always been magical for me. Opening one up and being transported into another time, place, perspective - this is an experience unparalleled by anything except, potentially, travel. As an avid reader from a young age, bookstores have been almost a safe haven to me. Stepping into one from the hustle and bustle of a city not only lets me breathe a sigh of relief, but also opens the door to a whole new world, one with shelves upon shelves of adventure, romance, and tragedy. Considering this, I was beyond excited when my mom thought up the brilliant idea of spending a day in the city and hitting as many bookstores as we could. Since Chicago is large, we obviously couldn't experience every one, but we mapped out a route that I feel is perfect for any book lover. A few that I'm hoping to check out in the future are Open Books, After Words Bookstore, and 57th Street Books.

We began in Andersonville, a northern section of the city. First up was breakfast at m.henry, a small restaurant and bakery that offers a delicious selection of food. I ordered the Simply Hotcakes, which came with fresh strawberries and vanilla whipped cream (pictured below). As a bonus, the house potatoes were very tasty - cooked perfectly and had just the right amount of spice.

Our first bookstore, Women & Children First, was a few minute walk down the street. This is an independent bookstore known for being diverse, and stocks many feminist and LGBT+ selections. It also has a great children's section, in addition to having titles you would see in any other bookstore. I absolutely loved the friendliness of the women who worked there, and the vibe of the entire store was welcoming. Something that added to that was the handwritten staff recommendations that accompanied some of the newer releases, which helped my decision making process in which books to buy. I ended up with Mosquitoland, a 2015 YA release, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, which is supposed to be wonderful.

Bonus: If you're not too full to be thinking about food, stop by The Swedish Bakery, which has amazing cookies.

Honorable mention to The Book Cellar, another awesome indie bookstore that resides in Lincoln Square. This would be another great place to stop at at this point on your journey, but I had already been there in the past, so decided to skip it.

The next move was to drive about 20 minutes to Logan Square, where the next two bookstores were. Beginning at City Lit Books, another independent bookstore, we managed to find a copy of The Outsiders, a coming-of-age novel published in the 60's. I love the 60's and I love coming-of-age stories, so this recommendation by my mom seemed like a great find. City Lit also had a great children's section, and there was a hilarious selection of cards for all occasions that we spent a few minutes enjoying. Other than that, we weren't as excited by this store, mainly because we were excited for the next stop, which was a used bookstore.

Uncharted Books (pictured below) was a couple minute walk from City Lit, and really gave me that magical feeling when I stepped inside. The shelves were full of used copies of both classics and new releases. I wandered around for quite some time before deciding on Catch-22. Best part about this one is that they have a gorgeous dog that hangs around the store. She was unfortunately sleeping when we showed up, but nevertheless made me very happy.

If you find yourself hungry at this point, three places that looked good in the area were a lunch at Lula Cafe, just down the block from City Lit, a sweet treat at Bang Bang Pie Shop, a few minutes away from the area, or a slice at Reno, just near Uncharted. However, I would recommend driving the 10 minutes to your next stop, Wicker Park.

When you get to the area, Stan's Donuts has a location just down the street from the next bookstore. We stopped there and after looking over the immense selection (pictured below) for quite some time, we decided on splitting a toffee donut and a banana peanut butter pocket. Both were so delicious, I couldn't stop thinking about them for the rest of the day (I still haven't stopped).

After nourishing yourself with some donuts, head over to Myopic Books, which is basically just around the corner. Now this is the bookstore to end all bookstores. Housing over 70,000 copies, encompassing three floors (basement pictured below), and having titles ranging from 19th century classics to graphic novels to non-fiction, Myopic has everything. I was so amazed at this store, I essentially said "wow" about 20 times within the first two minutes of walking around. There were so many books that I couldn't control myself and had to pick four, Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and The Flamingo Rising (another 60's coming-of-age story). Can you tell I'm trying to read all the classics?

After spending way too much time at Myopic, we walked around the area for a while and stopped in some of the cute shops that line the streets. There's another small indie bookstore, Quimby's, which is in the general area. We stopped in there for a few minutes, but were pretty exhausted at that point, so ended up just looking around. Another great store we checked out is Reckless Records, which has a ton of great music and an overall cool feeling.

When it's time to eat again, I'd recommend Umami Burger, which has a handful of gourmet burger options and delicious fries. It's very unique, so if you're not into that, try Piece, which is a casual pizza place and brewery. There are a ton of great places to eat in Wicker Park, so feel free to explore if those don't interest you. If you need something sweet to finish off your meal, look no further than Mindy's Hot Chocolate, which has amazing dessert options.

And when you've completed your day, head home and crack open one of the books you bought. Let it take you somewhere you've never been before. Don't be afraid to learn something new.

Have you been to any of these bookstores?
What is your favorite book?


  1. Stan's Donuts is AMAZING! And so is Swedish Bakery. If you are ever in the Rogers Park area, definitely check out the Armadillo's Pillow bookstore. It's a quirky little store that sells incense, jewelry and other little items apart from books.
    I'm for sure going to check out m.henry because those pancakes look so good!
    Very cool post!




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