Reader's Choice: 57th Street Books and the Seminary Co-op Bookstore
A cozy, low-ceilinged warren of subterranean brick-walled rooms, 57th Street offers probably the most ecumenical selection of any independent bookstore in the city. Literary best sellers, mysteries, cookbooks, social science tomes, children's books, and African-American history are all given equal weight—and there's a fantastic selection of periodicals and frequent author appearances to boot. Factor in the sibling Seminary Co-op Bookstore, a labyrinthine maze of classics, contemporary literature, and more than 100,000 scholarly books three blocks away in the basement of the Chicago Theological Seminary, and it's no wonder no one in Hyde Park ever leaves Hyde Park. Become a member for $30 (that's three shares at $10 a pop) and you'll get 10 percent off purchases at both stores (as well as at the co-op's Newberry Library outpost), with deeper discounts during the biannual members-only sale. a 1301 E. 57th, 773-684-1300 (57th Street), and 5757 S. University, 773-752-4381 (Co-op), semcoop.com. —Martha Bayne
Readers' Choice: The Book Cellar
a 4736-38 N. Lincoln, 773-293-2665, bookcellarinc.com.
Best Used-Book Selection
Reader's Choice: Myopic Books
Sure, it's had four addresses in its 17 years, and sure, owner Joe Judd has decamped to a farm in the Ozarks, but Myopic Books is anything but unreliable. This Wicker Park institution has everything the budget-minded bibliophile could want. In addition to three floors of shelves upon shelves of books to suit every stripe, Myopic's got an online bookstore devoted to collectible, rare, and out-of-print titles; it stays open till 1 AM and hosts long-running experimental music and poetry series; and, naturally, it has its own cat. It'll also pay good money for that barely used copy of Remembrance of Things Past that you're never going to finish. a1564 N. Milwaukee, 773-862-4882, myopicbookstore.com. —Martha Bayne
Readers' Choice: Myopic Books
Best Reading Series
Reader's Choice: RUI: Reading Under the Influence
RUI gets the nod because (a) it's held in a bar, and (b) it's fun. The format goes like this: participants read their original short works, written to address the preassigned theme, but they also read from published works (often famous, but sometimes not) on the same theme. Then audience members get to guess the author and the title of the work and try to answer a few related trivia questions posed by the reader. The RUI regulars are all Columbia College grads (and the audience members sometimes all seem to be as well), but with invited guest readers for each outing, you always meet someone new and interesting. a Next reading: Wed 7/2, 7 PM, Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield, readingundertheinfluence.com, $3, 21+. —Jerome Ludwig
Readers' Choice: RUI: Reading Under the Influence
Best Branch Library
Readers' Choice: Conrad Sulzer Regional Library
a 4455 N. Lincoln, 312-744-7616, chipublib.org/branch/details/library/sulzer-regional.
Best Poetry Slam or Open Mike
Readers' Choice: Uptown Poetry Slam
a Sun, open mike at 7 PM, featured performer at 8, slam at 9, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, slampapi.com.