The Book Lover’s Guide to Kansas City

SEMINARIANS LOVE THEIR BOOKS. In fact, any person within earshot of the Midwestern campus strange enough to say that they don’t like reading is immediately kidnapped and locked in a broom closet with a stack of Puritan Paperbacks and The Chronicles of Narnia. Well, that’s what might happen if any non-readers dared to out themselves within Midwestern’s earshot. It is more often instead that we attract a major assortment of book lovers and book-nerds—that is, people who don’t just love reading but love books themselves!

Book nerds are not content to simply browse covers and descriptions on Amazon. They want to hold books, new and old. They want to leaf through crisp or well-worn pages, crouch or stretch to find overlooked gems, get lost among aisles and stacks, and wander through genres and shelves. Is that you?

If you love all things books, you probably want to know Kansas City’s best options for being surrounded by them. Here are some highlights not too distant from the Midwestern campus.


Prospero’s Books

(prosperosbookstore.com)

This independent used bookstore on West 39th is the quintessential bohemian bookshop in a hip section south of the river teeming with coffee shops and boutiques. With three stories chock-full of titles new, old, and rare, Prospero’s is a great place to browse and feel really cool and/or romantic doing it.


Steel’s Used Books

(steelsbooks.com)

A non-descript warehouse building on a non-descript block in North Kansas City contains the best kept secret among the book-loving Northland. The closest bookshop to Midwestern’s campus also contains the best selection of used theological and Bible reference works in the city. Rows and rows of books punctuated by piles and piles of more books (sometimes overflowing from boxes, sometimes in scattered mounds), it is hard to leave Steel’s without something in your hand, if not a stack of somethings. The impression is that of a dump truck full of books having recently unloaded its contents. A treasure trove for the diligent searcher. Don’t forget your flashlight. And ask for the Midwestern Seminary student discount, which legend says is occasionally granted.


The Kansas City Public Library

(kclibrary.org)

The Central Branch on the corner of 10th and Baltimore is the location you want. Grand architecture and whimsical features, including the iconic (and gigantic) book mural on the façade of the parking garage, make this book-lover’s destination not just a way to borrow. Gallery features and historical exhibits, including the Missouri Valley special collections and the Stanley Durwood film vault, are notable elements in this expansive space. Bring the kids, as well, as the children’s reading area is massive and fun.


Barnes & Noble, Country Club Plaza

(stores.barnesandnoble.com/store/2574)

The nation’s largest brick-and-mortar book retailer has a beautiful store in KC’s historic Plaza, including everything you expect from the chain, including games and gadgets, magazines and puzzles, Starbucks coffee and Cheesecake Factory desserts, and—oh yeah—a practically endless offering of books to browse across three incredible floors. (There is also a Barnes & Noble location in the Zona Rosa shopping district just 15 minutes from the seminary campus.)


Half Price Books, Westport

(hpb.com/084)

There are actually a handful of Kansas City locations of this used bookstore chain popular with college students and other book-nerds in search of good deals, but this spot in the trendy Westport neighborhood is nearest some of Kansas City’s most interesting shops, cafes, and historical landmarks.


Sword & Trowel

(mbts.edu/store)

Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College’s own campus bookshop is a well-appointed feast for the eyes and replete with the most relevant and desired titles in Christian publishing, classic and modern. Browse the selection of books or school-branded gift items, including an assortment of sweet Spurgeonalia, or take a load off by the roaring fireplace in the nearby drawing room with something warm from Tomlinson Café, which conveniently shares a counter with the bookstore. The staff is exceedingly knowledgeable and eager to help. If they don’t have it, they can order it in a jiff.

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