10 Amazing and Unique Independent Chicago Bookstores

If you’re a book lover traveling to the city there are no shortage of bookstores to choose from. Read on to learn more about Chicago’s independent booksellers.

Book Culture Bookspot / Libraries Just For Fun Lifestyle Pop Culture Travel
Man standing in between shelves smiling

Independent bookstores are a staple in any city, and Chicago has them in spades. The Windy City is a literary hub with bookstores scattered across every area of the city. Each with its own personal collection and story to tell. If you’re a bookworm headed to the city of Chicago, I recommend checking out these ten amazing and unique bookstores.

The Book Cellar

white brick storefront with black and gold sign lined with a patio lined in plants
IMAGE VIA THE BOOK CELLAR FACEBOOK

Books and wine? Sign me Up! This woman-owned bookstore is located in Lincoln Square and has us thirsting for a visit. Sip Chardonnay while perusing the shelves, and then begin your new book right on their gorgeous patio. Customers can also stay for one of the many book clubs run by the store.

Women and Children First

Store front with large purple awning and windows along all front image
IMAGE VIA WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST FACEBOOK

Since 1979, this bookstore has made it its mission to represent unheard voices through literature. The store contains over 20,000 children’s books, books about women, and LGBTQIA+ literature. This bookstore is located on the north side of Chicago and is currently one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country. Help support their mission by stopping in soon.

Unabridged Bookstore

Black Storefront with green windows above it and a bright prink fire escape on the building image
IMAGE VIA UNABRIDGED BOOKSTORE FACEBOOK

Located in the Lakeview neighborhood, this is the go-to bookstore for many Chicago residents. From its famous sale section to its sizeable travel room, this bookstore could have you browsing for hours. If you’re struggling to pick your next read, check out their hand-written staff recommendations or their featured book of the month. The minute the iconic pink fire escape comes into view, you will be immersed and amazed by what they have to offer.

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore

Bookstore front with steps leading into the doorway with a chalkboard in front of it.
IMAGE VIA SANDMEYER’S BOOKSTORE’S FACEBOOK

This family-owned and pet-friendly bookstore lies in the historic Printer’s Row neighborhood. The staff’s creativity shines through with their fun displays and beautifully decorated chalkboards. You need to check out their love-at-first-sentence display. Don’t forget to bring along your furry friend as you check out the new releases.

Quimby’s Bookstore

Brick store front with long windows and a circular sign hanging above them
IMAGE VIA QUIMBY’S FACEBOOK

Not only is Quimby’s an independent bookstore it also specializes in independently published works, including; Small press books, zines, comics, and ephemera. This store sits on North Ave and offers a diverse selection of literature that goes beyond just traditional novels. Quimby’s nurtures an environment that promotes up-and-coming authors by allowing writers to sell their own work under consignment. This is the perfect bookstore for new authors and those looking to support independent publications.

Myopic Books

Green store front with large windows and white lettering
IMAGE VIA MYOPIC BOOK’S FACEBOOK

This bookstore is located in Wicker Park and remains the oldest and largest bookstore in the area. They focus on selling second-hand books and are known as one of the best-used bookstores in the city. The store also draws in crowds with events such as Music Mondays and poetry readings. Stop by for a visit and maybe sell some of your own books in addition to purchasing some new ones.

Exile in Bookville

Large stone building with green windowsills and a green sign.
IMAGE VIA EXILE IN BOOKVILLE, BOOKVILLE

This bookstore is located on the 2nd floor of the gorgeous Chicago Fine Arts Building, and it holds its own in this historic location. The bookstore offers many beautiful displays, but the one you must check out is their Meet the Press Wall. Every few months, the store features a small press by sharing their story and their books. If you’re looking for a way to commemorate your visit, check out their awesome merch.

Challenger Comics

large red and white sign on top of glass windows covered in posters
IMAGE VIA TRIP ADVISOR

Across the street from the Blue Line Station, this store captures everything we love about comics and the social environment it promotes. The store caters to all ages, including its sidekick section dedicated to young readers of all ages. Don’t forget to check out the staff’s personal recommendations when you arrive to truly complete your experience.

After-Words New and Used Books

glass window looking in on shelves with a blue and green neon sign
IMAGE VIA FOR READING ADDICTS

In downtown Chicago, you will find a bookstore that has the best of worlds with its selection of new and used books. The store’s warm atmosphere, combined with its wonderful and diverse selection, make it a must-stop for book hunters. I recommend checking out their event calendar for fun events such as The Banned Books Club or their global poetry event.

Uncharted Books

A blue and gold sign sitting atop windows and a open doorway next to a bookshelf
IMAGE VIA BOOK CLUB CHICAGO

If you’re a fan of rare books, this is the store for you. Located behind a secret door within the store lies their rare books room. The room is set up for visitors to read and browse as they take in the usual objects that lie within the room. To top off your experience, you may get to meet Ramona, the bookstore dog.


Want to learn more about Chicago’s bookish hotspots? Click here and here.

FEATURE IMAGE VIA TIMEOUT