Looking for a book?


The University of Iowa is renowned for its writer’s workshop, and Iowa City is an UNESCO city of literature. Whether you’re here for English or Engineering, the city’s bookstores are vital.

While textbooks are vital part of a college student’s personal library, Iowa City offers shops to cater to students wishing for a change of literary pace.

Prairie Lights opened in 1978 and in downtown Iowa City. Since then, the independent bookstore has garnered national acknowledgement. The establishment invites authors local and abroad to read on their second floor nearly every week. Their building is located at 15 Dubuque and stocks novels, memories, plays, and more that students of the University require for classes. The store also offers a cafe upstairs.

Prarie lights regularly receives national attention.  In 2013, Forbes named Prairie Lights one of the top independent book stores in the country. The bookstore, opened in 1978, and its series, “Live From Prairie Lights,” was broadcasted on a local radio station. Since its inception, Prairie Lights has been a staple in the Iowa City community, even with the rise of technologies like the Kindle and Nook.

Iowa City’s used bookstore, The Haunted Bookshop, has been open just as long. As of 2013 the store is located at 219 S. Gilbert in a building dating back to 1847. Inside the shop keeps its approximately 50,000 titles stored in 10 rooms. The store will often have some of the literature needed for classes and has plenty of books to occupy free time reading.

And to satisfy curiosity — the bookshop isn’t haunted. It is named after The Haunted Bookshop, written by Christopher Morley. The store is humorously known for its “ghosts,” or two cats that roam free throughout the shop. They don’t bite.

Iowa Book is located just across from the Pentacrest on 8 Clinton.  The store focuses heavily on providing students with anything they might need for classes. As well as textbooks and the like located in their basement, they stock notebooks, calculators, planners, and a number of items students might require for the school year. While this store mostly caters to students in the beginning of each semester as they stock up on textbooks, there are other, popular choices available.

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