I t's arguably the most famous road in the world. Route 66 - just saying those words makes you want to hit the road. But did you know there are many wonderful used bookshops along the way from Chicago to Los Angeles? We have plotted the ultimate bibliophile's road trip where you can visit 66 bricks and mortar used bookshops - who all sell on the AbeBooks marketplace - while driving from the shores of Lake Michigan to the beaches of Santa Monica. We are talking about two thousand miles and hundreds of thousands of books. It's a booklover's paradise - and worth the trip for that alone. Some folks travel for culinary adventures, some travel for landmarks and museums, but bibliophiles travel for the finest in literary offerings. It's called Bookstore Tourism, and yes - there's a book about it.
The bookshops we've featured vary in size, and range from quintessential neighborhood used bookshops to specialists dedicated to subjects like children's books, history, mysteries, architecture, theology, alternative religions and cooking. Get your motor running, head out on the highway and discover some amazing used and rare bookshops in America's heartland.
“The people are in flight, and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight.” — John Steinbeck -The Grapes of Wrath
1. Howard's Books - 2000 Maple Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Howard's Books is the quintessential neighborhood used bookshop close to Northwestern University. If a book has been in the shop for more than a year it's half price.
2. Amaranth Books - 828 Davis Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Just down the road from Howard's, this shop also offers CDs and DVDs, and has been around for 20+ years.
3. The Book Den - 1043-B Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60202
Small but packed with books. Literature, history, anthropology, women's studies, books on tattoos and more.
4. Chicago Rare Book Center - 703 Washington Street, Evanston, IL 60202
A treasure trove of collectable books. You’ll see amazing books priced in four and five figures.
5. The Armadillo's Pillow - 6753 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626
Expect the unexpected in this quirky shop. Lots of beautiful but highly uncommon books.
6. Bookworks - 3444 N Clark, Chicago, IL 60657
A little bit of everything including rare recordings. Parking around the back.
Route 66 no longer exists but you can still trace the route of the old road, most of which is still drivable. It crosses eight states, three time zones, and covers 2,448 miles (about 4,000 km). John Steinbeck described Route 66 as the "Mother Road" and that stuck as one of its many nicknames.
7. Gallery Bookstore - 923 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657
Established in 1927, this general used bookshop offers a hefty dose of rare magazines and ephemera. Check out the specialist section for mystery, science fiction and horror.
8. Booklegger's Used Books - 2907 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
Walk in and the shelves seem to go on and on. Used books galore from first editions to affordable paperbacks.
9. Round Table Books - 1826 S. Indiana Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616
Offers rare and collectable books, particularly in history, art, Arthurian history and literature, Napoleonic biography and poetry. Closed Sundays.
10. Powell's Bookstores Chicago - 1501 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
It’s impossible to be in Chicago without visiting Powell’s in Hyde Park where you will find a vast array of scholarly books. They have another shop on the University of Illinois Chicago campus.
11. Hooked on History - 350 W. Kensington Road, #108, Mt. Prospect, IL 60056
Established in 1988, the founding principle of this shop is to provide quality collectable history books at affordable prices. Lots of American history with a strong focus on military history
12. Brain Snacks - 5239 Carpenter Street, Downers Grove, IL, 60515
Open on Fridays and also by appointment only. Since 1994, Brain Snacks has specialised in mystery, science fiction and fantasy, and romance.
John Steinbeck was inspired to write The Grapes of Wrath during a 1937 drive along Route 66. The book's title was suggested by his wife, Carol, taken from the Battle Hymn of the Republic: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored."
13. Bookhunters Books & Comics - 548 South Route 59, Naperville, IL 60563
Located in a busy shopping center, Bookhunters, which opened in 2012, combines comics and graphic novels with books on religion, theology, philosophy, literature and scholarly subjects.
14. Bobzbay - 419 North Main Street, Bloomington, IL 61701
Used books and quirky media, and lots of science fiction and fantasy. This shop is not dull and look out for the bright yellow Bobzbay van.
15. Novel Ideas - 480 E Main Street, Decatur, IL, 62523
From Bloomington, take a short detour to Decatur and see Novel Ideas where you will find more than 20,000 books in a shop that’s been open for over 25 years.
16. Prairie Archives - 522 East Adams Springfield, IL 62701
In business since 1973 and at this location since 1992. Approximately 250,000 books, documents, manuscripts, posters, prints, comics, collectables, magazines, postcards and more.
17. Books on the Square - 153 East Jackson, Virden, IL 62690
About 20 miles south of Springfield. They opened in 1993 and today it consists of three buildings full of used and collectable materials.
18. The Sly Fox - 123 North Springfield Street, Virden, IL 62690
This independent bookshop specialises in children's books, mysteries, books about Illinois, and books for reading groups.
19. Hammonds Antiques & Books - 1939 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO 63118
This St. Louis shop has been around for 30 years. Lots of rare, used and out-of-print books plus a huge library of paper articles on subjects from the 1850s to 1960s.
20. Dunaway Books - 3111 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63118
Housed in a former gallery, Dunaway Books caters for scholars, collectors and readers. Lots of small press titles and local literature.
A possible detour is to visit the Mark Twain National Forest, which is south of the road between St. Louis and Springfield. It was established in 1939 and named after Missouri’s most famous son. The 350-mile Ozark Trail system winds through the forest.
21. The Book House, Inc. - 7352 Manchester, Maplewood, St. Louis, MO 63143
This shop is housed in an old department store building in the historic business district of downtown Maplewood. You will find an eclectic mix of rare, out-of-print, new, and used books.
22. Patten Books - 10202 Manchester, Kirkwood, MO, 63122
Keith and Nancy Patten offer around 50,000 quality used books. Open Tuesday to Saturday in the suburbs of St. Louis.
23. STL Books - 100 W Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood, MO 63122
A small community bookshop dedicated to reading and the literary arts in St. Louis. They specialise in high quality literature for adults and children.
24. ABC Books - 2109-J N. Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65803
Established in 1989, ABC offers more than 100,000 new and used books, including textbooks. Closed on Sundays.
25. Half Price Books of the Ozarks - 1950 S. Glenstone Avenue, Suite O, Springfield, MO 65804
New and used books covering romance, westerns, sci-fi, cookbooks, history, classics, horror and mysteries.
26. Hooked on Books - 2756 S Campbell Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807
Another one in Springfield. More than 100,000 used, rare and out-of-print gems. Located in the Village Shopping Center behind Andy's Frozen Custard. They have another location in Ozark.
27. Nixa Book Mark - 409-2 Northview Road, Nixa, MO 65714
A small, friendly shop stocked with over 30,000 books but a strong focus on paperback fiction.
In the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, you can visit Ernest Hemingway's childhood home and a nearby museum which displays photographs, family artifacts, writings and memorabilia from the great man's life.
28. Sleepygirl's Used Books - 516 N Main, Joplin, MO 64801
In business since 1999, Sleepygirl started out online but expanded to a physical shop in 2003 which was destroyed by a tornado in 2011. Like true survivors, they bounced back with a new shop.
29. Coffee Break Book Store - 322 Buss Lane, Pineville, MO 64856
Used books and a Cuppa Joe. A good place to spend a few hours after touring the nearby Pea Ridge National Military Park. Contains a separate children’s room.
30. Gardner's Used Books - 4421 South Mingo Road, Tulsa, OK 74146
Oklahoma’s largest used bookshop, Gardner’s has approximately 23,000 square feet of books, comics, DVDs, CDs/records, video games and collectables.
31. Oak Tree Books - 2812 East 15th Street, Tulsa, OK 74104
Lots of books about Oklahoma, the early days of the American West as well as plenty of first editions.
32. Peace of Mind Bookstore - 1401 E. 15th Street, Tulsa, OK, 74120
One of America’s largest collections of occult, New Age and metaphysical books. Also carries herbs, stones, crystals, incense, runes and tarot cards.
33. Rod's Books & Relics - 10 E. 2nd Street, Sand Springs, OK 74063
A cosy little bookshop offering, children’s books, cookbooks, Western Americana, and science fiction and fantasy.
34. Archives Books - Oxford Pointe, 1914 East 2nd Street, Edmond, OK 73034
Established in 1989, Archives is a pioneer of online bookselling. Pop into their shop for a huge array of used book bargains.
35. Second Chance Books & Comics - 3909 North MacArthur, Warr Acres, OK 73122
The largest used bookshop in the Oklahoma City area (250,000 books) and a full service comic book shop, including Manga and graphic novels.
“If you ever plan to motor West, travel my way, take the highway that's the best. Get your kicks on Route 66. It winds from Chicago to LA. More than 2,000 miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”
— Bobby Troup, whose 1946 song was first performed by Nat King Cole
36. Tome on the Range - 158 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM 87701
New books, modern first editions, children's books, cookbooks, and mysteries from this picture-perfect small town shop in New Mexico’s Las Vegas.
37. Maya Jones Books - 500 N Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, NM 87010
A wide selection of general used and antiquarian books with a specialty in Latin Americana and Western Americana. Located at the Traveler's Market inside the de Vargas Mall.
38. Gunstock Hill Books - 239 Johnson Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Located close to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, this is a boutique bookshop specialising in old, rare and collectable books.
39. Big Star Books - 329 Garfield Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
From the outside, this building looks like a storybook house but this small white and blue bookshop is filled with used books.
In Albuquerque, you can visit the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist's house. Ernie Pyle was famed for his writing about small town America and his reporting from World War II where he died in combat.
40. op.cit. books - 500 Montezuma Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Located in the Sanbusco Marketplace, op.cit carries new and used books, and modern first editions, and a great selection of remainders. Ideal for early risers, this place opens at 8am.
41. Under Charlie's Covers - 160 South Camino Del Pueblo, Bernallilo, NM 87004
Forty minutes north of Albuquerque. Lara Harrison named this shop after her father, a journalist who always wanted to open a bookshop. Charlie's dream never came true but his collection became the basis for Lara's bookselling business.
42. Bonnie's Books - 9311 4th Street NW Albuquerque, NM 87114
A small used bookshop with an interesting selection of children’s books.
43. Page 1 Books (aka Page One Too) - 5850 Eubank Blvd. NE, Suite B41, Albuquerque, NM, 87111
Inside the Mountain Run Shopping Center, Page 1 Books is the largest independent bookshop in New Mexico, and offers new and used books.
44. Blue Eagle Metaphysical Emporium - 2422 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87112
This bookshop specialises in alternative spiritualties, primarily Wicca and pre-Christian paths, as well as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. They also offer books on astrology, alternative self-help and health.
45. Title Wave Books - 2318 Wisconsin Street, NE Albuquerque, NM 87110
Title Wave offers everything from literature to cooking, children's books to political science - 100,000 books in 400 categories. Open Tuesday to Saturday.
46. Don’s Book Store - 1013 San Mateo SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108
This family-owned bookshop, which opened in 1970, offers more 200,000 paperbacks and hardcovers.
47. Pinon Tree Books - Antique Specialty Mall, 87106 Albuquerque, NM 87106
Located in an antique mall, Pinon Tree Books offers an outstanding selection of books on regional history.
48. Lifeways Books and Gifts - 111 South Cortez Street, Prescott, AZ 86303
A metaphysical and spiritual bookshop located on a busy little street between a burger joint and a clothing shop.
49. The Old Sage Bookshop - 110 S Montezuma Street # H, Prescott, AZ 86303
Quality used books and a wide selection of titles on the Southwest ranging from children’s books to natural history.
50. Book Nook (aka Star 'N Space) - 324 W Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301
A small bookshop next to a yoga studio.
51. The Book Shop - 134 N. Citrus Avenue, Covina, CA 91723
Twenty miles east of LA, Brad and Jen Johnson’s shop has more than 40,000 books covering topics from California and the west to literature, military history, cooking, children's titles and science.
52. Cook Books (aka cookbookjj) - 1353 N. Hill Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91104
Janet Jarvits' legendary shop contains more than 30,000 used, rare and out-of-print cookbooks. Chaotic but fascinating, this is a must-stop place for foodies.
53. Book Alley - 1252 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Founded in 1992, this is a general used bookshop (offering 50,000 books) with a large selection of art, architecture, and photography books.
54. Archives Bookshop - 509 E Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91101
A theological bookshop that carries more than 75,000 new and used theological books covering religious studies, philosophy, theology and biblical studies.
55. The Battery Books & Music - 1005B Mission Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030
This shop offers a wide and eclectic selection of books and music plus clothing and jewelry from local artisans, and live music too. Spanish language books too.
56. Read Books - 4972 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041
A small highly organised shop offering used books and new magazines. Also does events and has signed books and first editions.
57. Mystery and Imagination (aka Bookfellows Fine Books) - 238 North Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91203
Owned by Malcolm and Christine Bell, this shop has offered books on mystery, detective, science fiction, fantasy and horror since 1975. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
58. Alias Books East - 3163 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90039
Located in the heart of Atwater Village, Alias Books carries a wide variety of used books with an emphasis on literature, film and the arts.
59. Bookfinger - 620 Moulton Avenue #113, Los Angeles CA 90031
Located at The Brewery, an artists' colony, in Lincoln Heights near Chinatown. Used and out-of-print art, photography and design books. Also LPs. Open Thursday to Saturday.
60. Counterpoint Records & Books - 5911 Franklin Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Below the Hollywood sign. Books on the arts, literature, poetry, film, stage, and philosophy with a wide variety of other categories. Also lots of classical, jazz and rock records.
61. Books on the Boulevard - 13551 Ventura Blvd., Los Angeles CA 91423
This shop opened in 1995 and offers hard-to-find, out-of-print, used and rare books. Closed Sundays.
62. Mystery Pier Books - 8826 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood CA 90069
World famous and beautiful. This is where celebrities buy their rare books. Pop in and you might be rubbing shoulders with Johnny Depp. Signed, modern firsts, crime and mysteries.
63. Alias Books - 1650 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90025
Near UCLA, Alias Books has been a West LA fixture since 1959 - Alias Books East is its sister shop. Thousands of titles covering art, literature, academic and scholarly books.
64. Arcana: Books on the Arts - 8675 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
New, rare and out-of-print books on 20th century art, architecture, design, fashion, cinema and photography housed in a modern, sleek shop.
65. Sam: Johnson's Bookshop - 12310 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90066
Located in a blue building for the past 30 years, this famous bookshop offers a wide selection of used books with plenty of history.
66. Hennessey + Ingalls - 214 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Founded in 1963 and dedicated to the visual arts, this shop is filled with used, rare and out-of-print books about art, architecture, design, fashion and photography.