11 Literary Wonders in Chicago


When it comes to celebrating literature in Chicago, there’s no shortage of bookish gems to explore. From independent bookstores brimming with charm to literary events that bring words to life, here are some must-visit places and activities for any book lover in the Windy City.

Printers Row Lit Fest

Printing House Row, formerly home to Chicago’s pioneering printing houses, hosts the annual Printers Row Lit Fest! This literary extravaganza takes place on September 9th and 10th, beckoning city bookworms to step out of their cozy reading nooks- just for the weekend. Streets will adorn with booksellers showcasing latest novels, while acclaimed authors grace the stage with readings. The icing on the literary cake? It’s all free! 

Myopic Bookstore

For those seeking refuge from reality, Myopic Bookstore is a haven. This three-story emporium is filled floor to ceiling with used books spanning genres like fiction, art, music, film, religion, sci-fi, and children’s literature. The ambiance is folklike, with the scent of old paper, live music, and poetry readings that transport you to a world run by ink words. Spend time at this Wicker Park wonder whether it be to find your next read or sell an old one.

Books at Roscoe Books

Roscoe Books

Roscoe Books easily exudes a gentle local charm, kind enough to offer recommendations and engage in community events. Although the independent book store boasts an array of genres, it is best known for its children’s section, complete with story time, book clubs, and Sunday Stories & Puppet Making sessions. This is where book lovers are born. Of course, this is also where they are nurtured. Consider joining their Contemporary Fiction Book Club, a fabulous chance to discuss, share opinions, and sip wine!

Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace & Museum

For literary enthusiasts, a visit to the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway is a pilgrimage. Explore the house where this literary genius took his first steps in the world of words. View his original writings, personal letters, family artifacts, and photographs, gaining a profound glimpse into the life of one of history’s most celebrated authors. Only 8 miles west of downtown Chicago, this trip is certainly one to make if you’re a literary lover. 

Women & Children First

Nestled in Andersonville, Women & Children First lives by the mantra “shop as independently as you think.” This progressive bookstore offers a haven for readers with diverse tastes. Housing an impressive catalog of over 30,000 books, there’s always a literary gem waiting on its shelves to captivate someone’s imagination. While the store exudes a feminist vibe that resonates with like-minded individuals, it also serves as a welcoming space that naturally filters out the unnecessary. How wonderful!

Wilde Bar & Restaurant

Inside of Wilde Bar & Restaurant

In East Lake View, Wilde Bar & Restaurant sits as a charming literary haven paying homage to the legendary Oscar Wilde. Step into a world where books come to life, and you’ll discover more than just a cozy library, but incredible food and fare. With its inviting fireplace and an abundance of plush leather chairs, this establishment is a sanctuary for book enthusiasts. It’s the kind of place where you can savor both the written word and whiskey in a setting that honors the spirit of Wilde himself.

American Writers Museum

Step into the American Writers Museum and discover the literary luminaries of the past and present. Exciting worlds created by both the spoken and written word come alive here, allowing appreciation for the art to be easier than ever! It is a natural place to inspire the young writers of tomorrow and fuel the imagination of every patron. If you are visiting, it is guaranteed that you will leave fueled a newfound spark, thanks to the American Writers Museum.

Exile in Bookville

Step into the historic Fine Arts Building in Chicago to discover a gem among book lovers. Originally designed in 1885, this architectural jewel houses Exile in Bookville, an ageless literary oasis. Luckily, its magic is only an elevator ride away from the entrance, with an operator there to assist you! Its rich history includes luminaries like Frank Lloyd Wright and Harriet Monroe makes it one of the city’s best bookish spots, where literature and art continue to thrive.

Madison Street Books

Madison Street Books, tucked in Chicago’s West Loop, stands proudly as an independent, woman-owned bookstore dedicated to fostering community connections. Their vision encompasses inclusivity, offering something special for every reader. Join them for Poetry Night on Monday, September 11th, as they continue their poetry series in collaboration with UIC’s Center for Latinx Literature of the Americas!

Harold Washington Library

Situated in the bustling South Loop, the Harold Washington Library Center stands as Chicago Public Library’s main library. Beyond its remarkable late 20th-century American architecture, the library’s ornate designs pay tribute to Chicago’s rich history, specifically their fantastical winter garden. Its grandeur is nothing short of awe-inspiring, making it the ultimate spot for those seeking a serene haven to delve into their studies!

West Loop Public Library

The West Loop Library is more than just a library; it’s a beacon of community support. Beyond providing a state-of-the-art library, it also serves as a community center. They happen to offer free after-school tutoring and learning assistance in a welcoming environment. Notably, it was the recipient of the prestigious AIA 2020 Interior Architecture Award, so it not only does good, but also looks it! Prepare to be impressed by the spacious interior as you enjoy the library’s offerings.

Written by Bridget McGann

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