Begin your literary adventure at Prairie Lights Books & Cafe. What started in May 1978 as a small, intimate bookstore is now one of the most recognizable places in Iowa City. The top floor houses a coffee shop in the very same space Carl Sandberg, Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings, and others met for the local literary society in the 1930’s. With a diverse selection of books and weekly author readings, the store has been described as a “little unexpected treasure.”
Just a few short minutes from Prairie Lights is the Haunted Bookshop, Iowa City’s oldest secondhand bookstore. Established in 1978, they have over 45,000 titles in more than 80 different sections all within the ten rooms of a 1847 house. The location has changes three times over the years. Their current address is 219 N Gilbert Street.
From there, you’re in prime location to stroll the Iowa Avenue and North Linn Street Literary Walk. This presents the history of this “UNESCO City of Literature” in the form of bronze panels cemented in the sidewalk. Each panel include quotes and information about a writer and his or her connection to Iowa. See a full detailed map of the Literary Walk here.
Just a short walk south will lead you to the Iowa City Public Library, with collections and materials to satisfy all interests in the form of books, videos, art prints, interactive media, and more. After that, go across the river and down Melrose Ave. to Sidekick Coffee & Books. Try some of their premium coffee or a pastry while being surrounded by hundreds of books to read or buy.