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Madison is tome, err, home to plenty of good bookstores

Independent bookstores are thriving in our city, both new and used.

Bookshelves at Evening Star Books in Madison.jpeg

Evening Star Books is but one of many independent bookshops for local readers with discerning tastes. | Photo by 608today.

It was Louisa May Alcott, the author of “Little Women,” who said, “Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again.”

Luckily, our home of Madison is quite familiar with the joys of reading. With a robust public library system, a university that houses many treasures, book festivals, and local literary events far and wide, it’s easy to see how an author, like Anna Quindlen, would state, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home.”

Here’s a brief list of some bookstores that call Madison home:


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A literary fixture in Madison since 1975, A Room of One’s Own is an independent feminist bookstore. | Photo by 608today

A Room of One’s Own, 2717 Atwood Ave., Madison
A literary fixture in Madison since 1975, the independent feminist bookstore has a wide selection of reading material, with notably large sections of women’s studies, LGBTQ+ reads, and local small press material.

Kismet Books, 101 N. Main St., Verona
Founded by Rye Kimmett, the independent bookshop opened in November of 2021. Understanding the importance of community, the store has a local author consignment program and artist space, also.

Leopold’s Books Bar Caffè, 1301 Regent St., Madison
Peruse a specially curated selection of books arranged by country and then sit with your new book at the bar and have a craft cocktail.

Mystery to Me, 1683 Monroe St., Madison
It’s no mystery that the bookstore has a robust mysteries section. The store also has an equally robust calendar of events.


The Book Deal, 3822 Mineral Point Rd., Madison
If you want a deal, visit The Book Deal in their new large space. Eager to foster literacy in the community, they give away free children’s books (5 per child per visit).

Evening Star Books, 8413 Excelsior Dr., Ste. #130B, Madison
Open by appointment, the store has fine and collectible antiquarian books. Looking for a first edition of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” or Sigmund Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams”? They can help.

Paul’s Book Store, 670 State St., Madison
It’s an institution. Around since 1954, it’s like if your neighborhood’s Free Little Library had its own Big Bang, creating a universe of reading.

New and used

Editor Jonathan Shipley reading at Half Price Books.jpg

Jonathan, 608today editor, reads Jonathan and the Dragon at Half Price Books. | Photo by 608today

Half Price Books, 626 S. Whitney Way; 4250 E. Towne Blvd., Madison
With locations on both sides of the isthmus, there’s always fresh inventory of books you didn’t know you wanted until you stumbled upon them.

Lake City Books, 107 N. Hamilton St., Madison
Madison’s newest entry to the indie book scene, the bookstore is owned and operated by Madison native, Molly Fish. The bookstore’s motto is “new and used books for all ages.”

Happy reading.

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