By Megan Horst-Hatch
Does the thought of owning a first edition by a favorite author or a getting your hands on a hard-to-find title fill you with glee? If so, you might want to start your collection by checking out specialty bookstores in the Chicagoland area. Whether you want a rare edition of your favorite book, a comic book or just want to discover a new mystery writer, the area offers specialty bookstores that can help you find just what you’re looking for. Perusing the selection of a specialty bookstore is also a great way to find a unique gift for a family member or friend. To get started, check out the following specialty bookstores in the Chicagoland area.
Centuries & Sleuths
7419 Madison St.
Forest Park, IL 60130
Are you looking for a new whodunit? If you’re a fan of the mystery genre, then consider checking out Centuries & Sleuths. It features a wide selection from works by Chester Aaron to Wayne Zurl and everyone in between. It’s not just mysteries at Centuries & Sleuths, either; it features a notable selection of historical books, too. The store is designed for perusing, with a church pew and comfortable chairs available for customers. History and mysteries also come alive at Centuries & Sleuths, as it hosts an historical discussion group and several meetings of mystery-related groups, including the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime. For a list of upcoming events, consult Centuries & Sleuths’ website.
Chicago Rare Book Center
703 Washington St.
Evanston, IL 60202
If you’re looking for a unique gift for a friend (or for yourself), then consider exploring the selection of products at Chicago Rare Book Center. The store offers a selection of first editions, rare and hard-to-find titles from a number of authors. What’s available? Chicago Rare Book sells books in a number of categories, including first editions of John Grisham books, the complete works of William Shakespeare and children’s books. It has an extensive selection of books on jazz and blues as well. Chicago Rare Book’s selection isn’t limited to books, either; you can find prints, film cells, maps, autographs and more, all under one roof. Items can be ordered online, in-store or over the phone, so you can easily pick up the right edition you want.
Related: Chicago’s Best Bookstores
The Magic Tree Bookstore
141 N. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60301
If you are near Oak Park and need to pick up a children’s book, make sure to check out The Magic Tree Bookstore. Established in 1984, it is a mainstay of Oak Park and has a warm and inviting atmosphere with its storytimes and special events geared for families, including author book signings and seasonal arts and crafts activities. The Magic Tree has a wide variety of books available, including picture books for small children, nonfiction, biographies of notable historical figures, books for teens and award-winning books, including “Between Shades of Gray,” “Dead End in Norvelt” and “Where Things Come Back.”
1854 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
If you’re looking for a book that’s off the beaten path, then put Quimby’s Bookstore on your list. Located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, you can say this store has an independent streak, featuring books, comics and zines published by independent and small presses. Topics run the gamut from crafts and how-to guides to comics, and notebooks and biographies are also available for sale. Quimby’s is also a go-to store for anyone trying to sell their own book, zine or comic, as the bookstore offers to sell it on consignment. It also has a selection specifically for kids and parents, including books for kids and Rad Dad, a zine for radical parenting. Quimby’s also plans author signings and readings; check out the calendar of upcoming events to see what’s planned.