by Lizzie Duszynski | Photography by Benjamin Goodman
When the weather dips and the leaves turn from summer green to bright reds and yellows, we have one thing on our minds: Books. This is the time of year we cozy up with a good read. So we turn to an Urbaness favorite, our Independent Bookstore Tour to help guide you in filling up your shelves this fall.

The magic of a bookstore is in its versatility: a good one can be whatever you need it to be. It can invite adventure, incite curiosity, or offer a soothing escape after a long, hard day. Done right, a bookstore is a hiding spot. It is also a launching pad, a retreat, and a place to build upon dreams. A proper one encourages wandering and all manners of idling; it is quiet—but not too much—friendly, but never pushy.

So when we set out to tour the city by independent bookstore—from Rogers Park to Hyde Park—we had these particular wants in mind. Below, we catalog the best of the best—eight Chicago bookshops we found perfect for both stocking shelves and reenergizing the soul.



3444 N Clark
(773) 871-5318

Neighborhood: Lakeview
The Short Story: Bookworks is far and away our favorite used bookshop in the Lakeview neighborhood. A good spot for filling your shelves with the classics (think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Capote), this medium-sized bookshop is bright, clean, and neatly run. We found the co-owners kind, welcoming, and helpful—and never felt rushed though we ogled and lingered for longer than we intended.
Good for: The fiction shelves are well-stocked, as are the cookbooks (again, think classics and big names like Julia Child and Rick Bayless).
The Perks: It’s a tie between the free parking around back and the rotating shelf of cleanly packaged vintage paperbacks. We took home 1960s editions from Raymond Chandler, Jules Verne, and Daphne du Maurier. The illustrated covers alone are worth the $5 price tag.


3251 N Broadway
(773) 883-9119

Neighborhood: Lakeview
The Short Story: When we first pushed open the door to this neighborhood bookshop, it was love at first sight. The store was bustling and awash with sunlight on a Saturday afternoon. Call us new age, but this place just has good energy: the people are friendly, the space bright and airy, and the selection superb. Good for: While Unabridged stocks just about any book we can dream of, we’re particularly fond of this shop’s robust kids’ and cookbook selections. We felt free to wander the shop, perusing titles to our heart’s content.
The Perks: We love the themed collections staff members have arranged on endcaps throughout the store. Looking for a French cookbook? They’ve arranged a whole bunch for you. Young adult books involving magic? Look no further. What can we say? We just love a good theme.


6753 N Sheridan
(773) 761-2558

The Neighborhood: Rogers Park
The Short Story: For most, heading up to this little used bookshop—a fixture in the Rogers Park community for 18 years—will require a trek. But to us, it’s well worth it. Armadillo’s Pillow has a serious quirk factor, aside from its name of course. It’s cozy, unpretentious, and charming in its subtle disarray. It also boasts a vibe that’s part hippie, part magic shop. Incense burns at the window and the kids’ section—with its hanging tapestries and layered rugs—sells magic wands for $2. Good for: Armadillo’s is not the type of place you visit when you’re looking for a particular title. Rather, it’s the shop you wander in to when you’re in the mood to browse, letting its charms pull you deeper and deeper into its aisles.
The Perks: We had fun leafing our way through a small mountain of new arrivals piled high at the door. With our new purchases, we picked up coffee across the street at Starbucks and headed down the block to the beach.


4736 N Lincoln
(773) 293-2665

The Neighborhood: Lincoln Square
The Short Story: If there were ever an antidote for missing Borders, The Book Cellar is it. Inside this impeccably polished Lincoln Square shop, book-lovers will find a wide selection of reasonably priced titles. A little café encourages lingering, and the space lives up to its name, selling wine by the glass while you flip through a new read.
Good for: We love the well-stocked fiction section at the Book Cellar. From new releases to the classics, you can find it all in this bookshop.
The Perks: Aside from the wine and the selection, The Book Cellar offers up some of the most charming little notes from staff recommending their favorite titles to shoppers.


1301 E 57th St
(773) 684-1300

The Neighborhood: Hyde Park
The Short Story: Just a few steps below 57th Street in Hyde Park sits the street’s namesake bookstore. Unassuming from the sidewalk, this shop opens up into a sprawling five-room bookstore, inviting customers to wander and get lost—quite literally—amongst its many titles. What’s not at 57th Street Books? We have no idea, as this one-stop shop seems to carry everything. The prices are reasonable and the space is certainly amenable to sitting cross-legged on the floor and flipping through a book or two.
Good for: Everything! Though we were extra smitten with 57th Street Books’ travel selections. Vacation, anyone?
The Perks: Not only is 57th Street Books magical in the way one room always seems to unfold onto another—but we were quite pleased with the book selection as well. Especially intriguing was a pretty weighty section of books turned graphic novels.


1448 E 57th Street
773.363.0993

The Neighborhood: Hyde Park
The Short Story: Stepping foot inside O’Gara’s seems the closest thing to time travel. Specializing in rare and antique titles, O’Gara’s is worth the visit, if only to run your fingers over a yellowed dust jacket and take in the shop’s old world charms.
Good for: The stacks of flaking magazines dating all the way back to 1887!
The Perks: Where else in the city, dear reader, will you have opportunity to book shop beneath the watchful gaze of a buffalo?


2523 N Kedzie
(773) 235-2523

The Neighborhood: Logan Square
The Short Story: City Lit fills a void in Logan Square, bringing a polished and well-stocked shop to Kedzie Avenue. From the sidewalk, a simple storefront belies the magic awaiting behind its doors. A strong selection of new and local titles, and a cozy little sitting area (leather chairs! A fireplace!) invite weary shoppers to take rest.
Good for: New releases, especially those from popular blogs and websites. We love to wander tables of the staff’s suggestions The Perks: Did we mention those cushy leather chairs pulled up to the shop’s fireplace? Unrelated but equally perk-worthy, City Lit makes the perfect place to mark time while you await your table at Café Lula a few buildings down.


1564 N. Milwaukee
(773) 862-4882

The Neighborhood: Wicker Park
The Short Story: Any Chicago bookshop list would be incomplete without Myopic Books. Selling used titles in a four-story space, this shop caters to the artist-types milling about the neighborhood. The fiction section is surprisingly well-stocked for a used shop—and we’re always grateful that Myopic has never taken on that used bookstore smell.
Good for: Fiction. Check the new arrivals cart toward the back of the store. It’s always stacked with really good titles (think Rushdie, Didion, and Safran Foer) and never feels like a place for an academic’s discards.
The Perks: Myopic is open late making a pit stop after drinks an easy and tempting option. What, we can’t be the only ones who delight in factoring a little book-shopping into a night out with friends?
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
Photography by Benjamin Goodman
2014-11-03