River Lights Bookstore – A Favorite Bookstores Post

If you follow The Midnight Goose, you know that I’ve mentioned this bookstore before.  JoJo and I like a good road trip–anywhere, really–but we (read: JoJo) really enjoy them if stops at bookstores are involved.  Usually, things get so out of control that we have to open a tab with whatever bookstore we are visiting.  Not that the bookstore has a problem with it, mind you, but there are a few bookstores that are still wondering if we can ever pay our bill.

Okay.  No bookstore has ever let us “open a tab” and we always pay when we leave…but my version of our shopping habits sounds more fun, right?

Anyhoozles…moving on with this post, one of mine and JoJo’s favorite bookstores is in the city of Dubuque, Iowa.  Now, when most people hear “Dubuque“, they imagine a small village full of cows and farmers, and wonder how a neat bookstore would be located there.  Well, the city of Dubuque isn’t all that small–with a population near 60,000.  Not a huge city by any means, but not the “cow town” that most people imagine.

A few pictures of downtown Dubuque.  The first 4 are stolen from Google–the last 3 are my own.

Once, on a trip through Nebraska and Iowa JoJo and I happened across this bookstore while stopping in Dubuque for a few hours.  We didn’t have time to stay around Dubuque as long as we would have liked, but it got marked down as a “must return to” spot, so that 6 months later, when we spent 3 days in Dubuque, Iowa, River Lights Bookstore got visited each day.

Dubuque is an idyllic little city right on the banks of the Mississippi River, with Illinois just a jaunt across the Julien Dubuque Bridge.  River Lights Bookstore is in Downtown Dubuque, just west of the Millwork District, at 1098 Main St.  The Carnegie-Stout Public Library is a little over a block away to the west (gorgeous library, by the way), and is right across the street from Salsa’s Mexican restaurant.  And I highly suggest you pop into Salsa’s for a hearty, delicious meal after buying your books.

River Lights Bookstore is an independent bookstore–it doesn’t belong to a national, state-wide, or even city-wide chain.  It’s small(ish), but it is inside an absolutely charming older storefront with polished, creaky wood floors, beautiful bookshelves, logical layout, plenty of space to browse and read, and a charming check-out counter with friendly, helpful, and inviting staff.  I’m not kidding–on our first visit, the woman manning the desk spent several minutes visiting with JoJo and I after we said it was our first visit to Dubuque.  She had so many great suggestions on what to see in town, books she loved, and even directed us across the street to Salsa’s for lunch–which was an absolute hit.

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The entrance to River Lights Bookstore
Interior Picture at back of store – stolen from Google
Interior Picture of sitting area -stolen from Google

For what the bookstore lacks in size, it makes up for in selection.  Now, you won’t find dozens of copies of the latest bestsellers–maybe just a handful–but they still keep the latest and greatest in stock.  Additionally, they keep a selection of local authors, classics, literary fiction, feminist picks, staff selections, religious/spiritual selections, biographies…they run the whole gamut of genres…and they have an absolutely beautifully stocked and arranged children’s/young readers section in the store, too.

It’s obvious that they are concerned about their customers needs and not just their own likes and favorites–which is sometimes a problem at independent bookstores.  And maybe best of all, they are in no hurry to have you leave.  After you have perused and made your selections, you’re more than welcome to use one of their comfy chairs to read for a spell.  Or you can strike up a conversation with the staff–which will never be a waste of your time.

So…if you’re ever in the Dubuque, Iowa area–less than an hour-and-a-half up highway 61 from Daveport, Iowa or Moline, Illinois…check out River Lights Bookstore.  It will definitely be worth the drive–and Dubuque is a beautiful town to explore.  Especially in the fall when the leaves are changing.  And, of course, make sure to stop into Salsa’s for a meal after you buy your books!

River Lights Bookstore

1098 Main St.

Dubuque, Iowa 52001

Phone Calls: (563) 556-4391  Texts: (563) 580-5076


Google Maps Link


Speaking of books–have you entered to win this week’s Great Book Giveaway 2018?!?

And don’t forget to help out with the K9 PRIDE Fund if you can!

Until next time…