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Best Bookstores in Illinois

Oct 16, 2019 Activities

Women in bookstore looking at shelf of books

In the age of eReaders, audio books and podcasts, one could be forgiven for assuming that the simple paperback is on its way out. Interestingly, that is not the case. Print books are still far more popular among US adults than digital alternatives. Each October, National Book Month celebrates the importance of reading, writing and literature. It is also a time to recognize the country's best books and authors. Here are some of the top bookstores in Illinois for your perusing pleasure.

Prairie Fox Books


A successor in spirit to longtime local business the Book Mouse, Prairie Fox Books is an independent bookstore in Ottawa, at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers. Featuring an English library-style atmosphere and offering tea and knowledgeable booksellers, Prairie Fox Books hopes to create a community gathering space for book lovers of the area.

Interior of volumes cafe and bookshop

Volumes Bookcafe

Wicker Park Chicago

Volumes Bookcafe combines heavily curated shelves of books with a tasty menu of baked goods, quality espresso drinks and an array of local beer and wine. A family owned business, they aim to create a warm and inviting community space for book lovers of all ages.

Reading room at Afterwords Books



Family owned Afterwords Books offer customers both new and used books, a trade for credit program, free children’s story times, book clubs and so much more, all in a relaxing, inviting environment. 

When in Chicago, be sure to investigate similarly named After-words for a huge collection of over 70,000 new and used volumes.

Exterior view of Bookends & Beginnings bookshop

Bookends & Beginnings


Dubbed the "the speakeasy for books" by its customers, Bookends & Beginnings is a cozy independent bookstore offering new and used books, unique gifts including an exclusive line of irresistible jewelry and literary happenings. 

It is also known for an especially rich selection of children’s books in 48 languages including Kurdish, Maori, and Basque.

Women in bookstore looking at shelf of books

Women & Children First


Beginning as a modest storefront in 1979, Women & Children First is now one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country. They stock more than 30,000 books by and about women, children's books, and the best of lesbian and gay fiction and non-fiction. They also sell cards, journals, posters, calendars and gift items like candles, pins, and pride flags — all in an atmosphere where everyone is respected, valued, and well-served.

Exterior view of The Book Stall bookshop

The Book Stall


The Book Stall is one of the leading independent bookstores in the North Shore area. It has a reputation for great customer service and numerous author appearances throughout the year. Their highly popular monthly newsletter contains a variety of great recommendations.

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