Independent Bookstore Day 2017

The rain and wind didn’t scare away lovers of independent bookstores Saturday, with many participating in and more than 30 completing the #mychicagobookstore challenge. A lot of that is thanks to the bookstores themselves, who didn’t disappoint–special discounts, events or just general encouragement was found at every stop. And sometimes that encouragement was needed after a long run from the car, bus, or train stop in the rain, arriving soaked but ready to shop!

My boyfriend and I were among those that successfully completed the challenge, and my hard work going over and over my schedule the day before was well worth it! Knowing that there’s always intangibles, I chose one of the schedules I created (I created four options) that had us going to more than 10…just in case we happened to spend too much time at one place and didn’t get to each stop before it closed. This was definitely the right move, because once I get started with my book browsing, it always takes much longer than I think it will. In the end, we did have to skip a few on our list, but the plus side was that we ended up attending several bookstores we’d never been to before. Of the 10 we visited, 7 were new for me and 8 were new for my boyfriend. I was shocked at this tally, since I thought I’d been to so many, but Independent Bookstore Day definitely introduced me to several new ones that I’m very excited to visit again in the future. And it also introduced us to neighborhoods we hadn’t yet fully discovered or hadn’t yet been to.

Volumes Bookcafe filling up on Indie Bookstore Day.


Below is the order I visited the stores, with a short two-word description of my experience at each, whether it was the overall feeling, the selection, or the staff:

Open Books: Humorous and chill

Seminary Co-op: Wise and welcoming

57th Street Books: Magical and intimate (kind of like the princess castle of my childhood dreams, only underground.)

Gathering for samples and champagne at Read It & Eat It.

Powell’s: Intellectual and inspiring

Sandmeyer’s: Quaint and soothing

Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co: Youthful and vibrant

Volumes Bookcafe: Feisty and inclusive

Quimby’s: Unreserved and edgy

Read It & Eat It: Inviting and generous (like a good party hostess)

Women & Children First: Relevant and relatable


Each one of these stores is unique but the underlying vibe of community is the same. The day is really about them, but they spent it all focused on us! So I hope each and every worker took a well-earned day off to rest and read this week, knowing just how many people love the work they do–so much so that they’d brave what is hopefully one of Chicago’s last cold, windy and rainy weekends of the spring. Cheers to our Independent Bookstores, we’ll see you again very soon!

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Marcy Farrey is a storyteller with a passion for all things literary and independent. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. Despite living in Illinois most of her life, she only recently became an official resident of the City of Chicago. She spent the first two years of her career working as a one-man band TV news reporter and producer, and she's still recovering. She now works as a corporate communications professional in Chicago.

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