Ask ChicagoNow: What is the best bookstore in Chicago?

Ask ChicagoNow: What is the best bookstore in Chicago?

ChicagoNow is a group of bloggers from all sorts of different backgrounds.

With so much collective experience, we’ve decided to put that knowledge to use by posing some of the oldest and most popular questions to the group.

What is the best bookstore in Chicago?

“57th Street Books in Hyde Park is pretty fantastic.” — Brett Baker, Dry it in the Water

“RoscoeBooks.” — Jayson J Crady, Confessions of a Coffeholic!

“My personal favorite is The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Great vibe and not overwhelming. You can also count on The Book Table in Oak Park, The Book Stall in Winnetka and Lake Forest Bookstore in … Lake Forest.” — Kelly Konrad, LitzyDitz

“Impossible to pick one! At Women & Children First, I wonder how they magically read my mind and saw my entire to-read list and made it come alive in their store. In addition, they’ve got interesting surprises from small presses that you won’t find anywhere else. They have wonderful events-both author signings and community-building. Co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck is one of Chicago’s notable writers and storytellers. I selfishly don’t want to share this, but their used book sale in July is the best in the city. The Book Stall in Winnetka is also great. Wonderful selections in all categories. Excellent children’s section. The best signed book section! Also, great events. Wonderful people own the store and work there. The Book Cellar has the best graphic novel section and is the home of The Kates! ( The Kates is an all-women stand-up comedy group created and produced by Kelsie Huff. Very diverse, memorable, extremely talented group. It’s one of the best evenings of comedy anywhere. 57th Street Books is how you would imagine a bookstore in a fairy tale. You have to go downstairs from street level and the store goes on forever-all sorts of magical rooms and hidden places. Unabridged Books has the best sale section. City Lit has an especially great selection of local authors and presses. Volumes Bookcafe is an impressive blend of new and used bookstore and cafe. It all feels fresh and exciting like you could discover anything at any time. I love the home-like atmosphere, too. Wonderful events, including Elyse Nylin’s stand-up open mic and showcase, You Joke Like a Girl. Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston is in the old home of the legendary Bookman’s Alley. The new owners have kept that feel – not sure how to describe it – like you wouldn’t be surprised to see Harry Potter wander in with Bilbo Baggins. It’s both vintage and fresh, new books and used books in great condition. There are surprises from all over the world and a very interesting children’s section. They sponsor excellent events, too. Very knowledgeable and nice owners. Open Books! Two locations: one in the West Loop and a warehouse in Pilsen full of used books and the best dream a biblioholic could have. Staffed by volunteers, their sales support Chicago literacy programs, including an upcoming free pop-up bookstore in Garfield Park. The downtown location also has a great selection by Chicago writers, including authors who are students at CPS. Quimby’s is the center of the graphic novel universe, plus they have irreverent greeting cards by Chicago artists that you’ll want to frame. The bookstore at the Newberry Library is run by a woman with a great sense of humor and eclectic taste. It’s small, but she’s made it feel big. All sorts of cool cards and book-related items, and if you’re looking for something like the libretto of a Sondheim production you’ll find it here. I just saw on their site that the bookstore is closed for renovation, but will re-open in a few months.” — Teme Ring, Comedians Defying Gravity

“Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview. They have a fantastic selection, and the whole staff is very knowledgeable. We love getting lost there. Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in Printer’s Row is also great. And I still miss Europa Books.” — Ana Martin Sagredo, Foreign Affairs: Children Edition

“Book Cellar in Lincoln Square is great for the books, atmosphere and coffee!” — Susan Schulhof, Looking for the Good

“Try Bookies in Beverly for new and used books. They recently expanded into a larger store front. One year I did all my holiday shopping there. Easy.” — H. Van Howe, Pizza For Breakfast

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Lead image via Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune

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