Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Wednesday, July 24

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Support Lit Spaces

The Chicago Publishers Resource Center is just two days away from the end of its annual fundraiser on IndieGoGo. Help keep this important resource's doors open.

GB Gift Guide: Chicago History in Photos

Photos from the 1933 Century of Progress exposition tell the story of the events and people dramatized in Chicago's last world's fair. In this 144-page book, photos from the Tribune archives track all aspects of the fair from technology through entertainment.

Read Local

Find your favorite new book by a local author at the Chicago Book Expo is this weekend.

Better Bunny Business

Black Chicago Woman talks with Lo McGregor, the Evergreen Park-based author of the Little Pampu and the Chocolate Bunnies children's book series.

Football Game of Thrones

Northwestern will honor Game of Thrones author and Northwestern alumnus George R.R. Martin at this Saturday's game against Penn State. Tickets are still available; let's hope it goes better for him than for King Joffrey at the Purple Wedding.

NaNoWriMo Together

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? Open Books is hosting weekly write-in sessions to give authors some camaraderie.

Books on Shelves

The American Writers Museum will highlight the works of the country's most influential writers.

Poetry on the Diamond

Baseball poetry is a fine, longstanding tradition -- and one that's alive and well with Bardball, created by authors James Finn Garner and Stuart Shea. Cubs and Sox fans found plenty of inspiration in this season's highs and lows.

Deleted Scenes in a Book?

A collector's edition of Allegiant, the third book in Veronica Roth's Divergent series, became available today on It's $20 (versus half that on Amazon) and includes "deleted scenes," excerpts from Natalie Prior's journal and a poster.

Stay Right Here

Jessica Hopper talks with the Longform podcast about her new book, her career and why she's stayed in Chicago all this time. [via]

Rookie gets Ready to Graduate

The final Rookie Yearbook is coming out Oct. 20, and editor Tavi Gevinson is returning to Chicago for a releast party Oct. 21 at the Music Box. (Rookie will continue, BTW, this is just the last book.)

What's Her Story?

The Park District is running a contest for teens to write a backstory for the Fountain Girl statue in Lincoln Park. [via]

The Rise of Rape Culture

Whet Moser talks with author Kate Harding about rape culture and her book, Asking for It.

Changes at the Guild

Executive Director John Rich has left the Guild Literary Complex to join the MCA as manager of performance programs. The Guild is currently searching for a replacement.

An Early Perspective on Chicago History

Read Chicago: An Instructive and Entertaining History of a Wonderful City, published in 1888 -- 55 years after the city's incorporation. Of note: "The Visitor's Complete Guide to the City of Chicago." [via]

Sweater of Broad Shoulders

It is nice to wear your city pride, and the Chicago star is obvious. But, sometimes subtle is better. And Allyson Dykhuizen, owner of The Sweatshop of Love has created a knitting pattern for a cardigan named Sweater of Broad Shoulders, which has eight stitch patterns, each representing a different neighborhood from the South Side to the North Side. It's one of 13 patterns in Midwestern Knits. Winter is coming, after all.

"as fun as despising someone can get"

Vulture raves that Chicago by Glenn Head "is a titillating, brutal comics memoir."

Local Lit

Get your dose of local poetry, fiction, and essays with the South Side Weekly's 2015 Lit Issue.

The American Dream

Writer Sahar Mustafah takes readers inside the home of Arab immigrants in The Great Chicago Fire.

Need a Bigger Bucket

Bucket O' Blood in Logan Square is raising money for an expansion with an Indiegogo campaign.

CCLaP call for submissions for "all-star" student anthology extended to 7/1

The Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP) is accepting submissions for their 2nd annual "all-star" student anthology. The theme this year is: The View From Here: Stories from Chicago Neighborhoods. Work is being accepted from students at all Chicago area colleges & universities.

Page Turners

Newcity's Lit 50 highlights standout storytellers and supporters from Chicago's literary scene.

I Bro; Therefore I Am

Rene Descartes' dense but important philosophy could get a 21st century translation by the Philosophy Bro, who's raising money to support the effort.

The Chicagoest Book

The Reader crowned a champion in its "Greatest Ever Chicago Book" competition. The winner is The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

1001 Chicago Afternoons Salute Ben Hecht

Paul Dailing writes the 1001 Chicago Afternoons blog as a sort of homage to Ben Hecht's gritty daily slice-of-life newspaper column from the 1920s. It was later compiled in to a book called A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. If any part of you gladdens at accidentally wandering in to the meat packing district, or eavesdropping on late night bar brawls, or gaping at the people and places of Chicago with a sense of wonder, you will enjoy both Paul and Ben's works equally.

Girl in a Book Club

You still have time to read Girl in a Band, Kim Gordon's memoir, before the Empty Bottle Book Club meets April 18 to discuss it.


Scott Simon's tweets from beside his mother's deathbed reached millions, and he shares the stories she told in her last days in a new book.

So Bad it's Good

The Chicago Writers Conference hosts its annual fundraiser, Party with a Purpose, tonight from 6:30 to 8:30pm at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro. The theme this year is "Bad Poetry Night" -- come hear special guests Monica Eng, Tasha Robinson, Pat Byrnes and James Kennedy read bad poetry and other random things. Get tickets now!

Chancing Some New Rhymes

Chance the Rapper will be part of the lineup at the Louder Than a Bomb teen poetry festival team finals on March 28.

The Breastfast Club?

In John Hughes: A Life in Film, it's revealed that a Hughes cut a sexist nude scene out of The Breakfast Club because the female leads complained -- and the replacement scene nearly starred Rick Moranis.

Love Your Lit

Columbia College's Story Week kicks off this Sunday, March 15. Programming features writers ranging from Chris Abani to Elizabeth Yokas, from Edwidge Danticat to Rick Kogan.

The Merchant Prince

In 1899, the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand was determined by a US court to have been plagiarized from a play by a Chicago businessman. You can read Samuel E. Gross' The Merchant Prince of Cornville online. [via]

G-Man as Critic

FBI agents looking for communistic messages analyzed writings and plays by Chicago legends like Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, and Charles S. Johnson.

Persecuting Persepolis

Remember when CPS banned Persepolis, the award-winning graphic novel about a young woman coming of age during Iran's cultural revolution, back in 2013? A grad student recently discovered that the order came from the top.

A Cry Goes Out

The CME Group announced Wednesday that most futures pits in Chicago and New York will close in July, bringing open call trading that much closer to the end. Options markets will remain open.

Books on Tape

James Kennedy's 90 Second Newberry Film Festival, featuring kid-made films about Newberry Award-winning books, is back in town this Sunday at Adventure Stage Chicago. Tickets are free, but get one anyway because it'll be a packed house.

#LongReads for Later

Save these links for your lunch break: Kevin Leahy, Latoya Wolfe and Cyn Vargas have stories in the Reader's annual Fiction Issue.

Roy's Friend Ignaz

Chicagoist published "The King Of Vajra Dornei," a new "Roy story" by author Barry Gifford.

RIP Lee Sandlin

Lee Sandlin, longtime Reader contributor and author, passed away suddenly Saturday night. He was 58.

The Jungle vs. Time Traveler's Wife vs. Boss vs. ...

Which is the Greatest Chicago book? The Reader has assembled a bracket to decide.

Better Call Saul for Tickets

Comedian Bob Odenkirk, co-creator of "Mr. Show" and now probably better known as Saul Goodman on "Breaking Bad," celebrates the release of his new book, A Load of Hooey, with shows at UP Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow. Doors open at 7:15pm, show's at 8 Tickets are $45 and include a copy of the book. 21+

Hef's Sketches

Read Hugh Hefner's (SFW) pre-Playboy cartoon book, That Toddlin' Town. [via]

Get to Know Nelson

A new documentary, Algren: The Movie, delves into the life of one of Chicago's greatest authors. It's screening at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Studs' Place Online

The Studs Terkel Radio Archive wants to make most of the 5,000 interviews the oral historian did as a radio host at WFMT available for free online. Joe Engleman offers some highlights of what's online so far.

Nice Writing

The deadline for the Guild Literary Compex's annual Prose Awards for fiction and nonfiction is Oct. 1.

The Fault in Our Friendship

The Dissolve's Nathan Rabin writes in Salon about how his jealousy over The Fault in Our Stars author John Green's success ruined their friendship. See both of them Friday at Funny Ha-Ha.

Round Trip

Where To?, Dmitry Samarov's followup to Hack, his first memoir about driving a cab, is now out, and he's got a book release party at the Whistler Thursday night. He's also started a short video series in collaboration with John McNaughton.

Slashing the Shooshers

The number of librarians in over 600 public schools in Chicago is down to 254.

Short Success Story

Author Ben Hoffman won the Tribune's 2014 Nelson Algren Short Story Award for his story "This Will All Be Over Soon."

The Best in the Land

Women & Children First is one of WhereTraveler's 10 best independent bookstores in the country.

Writing About Writers

On the cusp of Printers Row Lit Fest, NewCity released its annual Lit 50 list.

Poetry of the El

Ride the train with author and poet Stuart Dybek, courtesy of Chicago magazine.

Closing 1 Book, Opening Another

The Encyclopedia Show holds its final session tonight at Stage 773. Find out all you ever needed to know about prairie. Or hear all about boobs at the premier of Miss Spoken, a new woman-focused reading series at Gallery Cabaret.

Book It

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will take the Chicago Ideas stage on June 11 to promote her memoir, Hard Choices.

Greenwald to Speak on Snowden & the NSA

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden to reveal widespread surveillance by the NSA, is on tour with Haymarket Books this summer, and will be speaking June 26 at the Socialism 2014 Conference in Rosemont. GB's Jason Prechtel interviewed Greenwald at the Socialism Conference in 2012.

Out of the Suburbs & Into the Grid

Chicago gave the world the suburbs, and historian Elaine Lewinnek explains how and why in a new book.

RIP Sam Greenlee

Sam Greenlee, author of The Spook Who Sat by the Door, passed away Monday at age 83. The film based on his book is credited with launching the blaxspoitation genre.

Don't Waffle on This Book

Remember the Waffleizer? Author and former GB contributor Daniel Shumski's book Will it Waffle?, based on the popular foodblog, is now available for preorder.

Don't Shush Their Acceptance Speech

First lady Michelle Obama will present Chicago Public Library the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest official honor a library can receive for its service to the community.

If it's Tuesday, it Must be Funk

Tonight at 7pm at Hopleaf, join us for the latest edition of Tuesday Funk, where Melissa Wiley, James Finn Garner, Gint Aras, Dustin Monk, and GB's own Jeremy Owens are reading.

Secrets in the Library

The mystery behind 150-year-old marginalia in a copy of Homer's Odyssey from the University of Chicago Library has been solved.

A Century of Studs

The 102nd anniversary of Studs Terkel's birth is a month from now, and there's a lot planned to mark it. (Here's an interview with Studs conducted by GB founding staffer Dave Elfving.)

Spring, They Wrote

The Reader's spring books issue features Julia Glass, Cristina Henríquez, Kathleen Rooney, Colson Whitehead and more.

The Mexican Cookbook Library

Eater got a peek inside chef Rick Bayless' personal library above Topolobampo & Frontera Grill.

It These Streets Could Talk

The Chicago Literary Map app lets readers discover stories posted by writers to locations throughout the city.

A Natural Remedy for Fraud

A judge sentenced pitchman Kevin Trudeau to 10 years in prison for criminal contempt, citing among other charges his refusal to pay court-ordered fines while living lavishly off money he earned with a fraudulent diet book.

On Reluctant Vegetarianism

Chicago author, Joe Meno, writes about "surrendering" to a vegetarian lifestyle in this month's Chicago magazine.

Galaxy's Best Dad

Fans of Jeffrey Brown's books about Darth Vader as a dad to Luke and Leia might be interested in the statuette versions.

Live Lit Mag

Story Club Magazine is a weekly peek inside the live lit scene in Chicago. The first issue is up now.

Making Book

North Branch Projects is a "community bookbinding facility" in Albany Park, offering classes as well as giving paper artists room to work.

2 Chicago Chefs Up For Culinary Award

The International Association of Culinary Professionals will release the winner of its annual cookbook awards on March 15, and two cookbooks written by Chicagoans are among the list of finalists.

Revive the BiblioTreka

The Read/Write Library is crowdsourcing funds to purchase a new book bike to replace the one stolen last year.

The Politics of Words

Matter is a "(somewhat) monthly journal of political poetry and commentary." Its latest issue provokes and titillates.

It's Tuesday, Here's the Funk

Tonight at Hopleaf, Tuesday Funk brings together an eclectic mix of fiction, essays and poetry in the presence of very good beer. Forget the weather and come hear Mare Swallow, Cameron McGill, Tom Underberg, Chuck Sudo and Amelia Beamer read!

Go on a Book Tour

Hopefully it warms up soon so you can take advantage of this nice literary tour of the city.

Lit Realigned

TriQuarterly, Northwestern's literary journal (which went all-digital in 2009), just redesigned to better show off its video and audio, among other things.

A Voice Deferred

Harry Mark Petrakis remembers the "Golden Age of Bronzeville" and laments the loss of Walter Davis, a writer whose works went unpublished due to a lack of commercial appeal.

One for the Record Books

The Chicago Public Library system ranks first in the country and third worldwide, according to a new study by a German University.

Better Place for Books: Online

The new Chicago Public Library website will be even more immersive than the Dewey Decimal system, allowing users to rate books, create wishlists and leave reviews.

Write Your 'Hood

The Anthology of Chicago is now accepting poems and stories inspired by the city's neighborhoods. [via]

Chicago Photographic Memoir

Political activist and Heartland Cafe co-founder Michael James is working on a draft of his memoir. It's filled with local political figures and historical Chicago scenery -- in the form of stunning black and white photos.

Real Page-Turners

The Reader's annual fiction issue is out, featuring short stories by Billy Lombardo, Laura Adamczyk, Heather Michaels, Lex Sonne and Robin Kirk.

Demon in a Bottle!

"The comic books were my childhood refuge from an alcoholic father, but they helped me overcome my own battle with the bottle, too," writes James Orbesen at The Atlantic.

This Holmes is for You

A federal judge in Chicago ruled the copyright protecting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes has expired, essentially making the iconic figure public property.

GB Gift Guide: Samantha Irby

Chicago author/blogger/funny lady Samantha Irby is known for her hilarious blog Bitches Gotta Eat. Meaty, her collection of essays will have you laughing through tears. You can find it on Amazon or any local book shop...and you should.

No Tears After Onion Cuts Print

The Onion's last print edition is on newsstands now, with headlines appropriately mocking the demise of newspapers, including, "Onion Print Revenues Up 5,000%." [via]

Local Reads

Works by two local authors are among Chicago Public Library's ten most checked-out books of 2013, with Gone Girl by author and Ukrainian Village resident Gillian Flynn at #1.

Victory After a Half Century

After 50 years of trying, local author Richard Baran will see his work on bookshelves for the very first time, after a small publisher bought "The Jacket," a Christmas-themed story about a man who finds a magical Army coat.

Tales from the Bottle

Got a story to tell about the Empty Bottle? Curbside Splendor wants to hear it for a new book. [via]

GB Gift Guide: Rusty Books

Ted McClelland offers some Rust Belt book recommendations for the regional history buff on your holiday shopping list, including Rusted Dreams: Hard Times in a Steel Community and Blue Collar Community (Studies of Urban Society), both about Chicago's steelworks.

A Century of Political Wrangling

The Newberry Library has digitized 175 volumes of the Chicago City Council Proceedings from 1865 to 1963 -- and now you can read it all online in the Internet Archive.

Reading is Art

Chicago artist Judith Brotman is asking people to read from a favorite book for 45 minutes at the Evanston Public Library some upcoming Sunday as part of her Reading Project.

Impressive Milestone

NewCity highlights the 40th anniversary of independent publisher Chicago Review Press and its strategies for surviving in the digital age.

A Tonic for the Literary Guild

The Guild Literary Complex is taking over Vincent in Andersonville tonight for TONIC, in celebration of its eventful year. Tickets are still available.

Fight for the Right to Read

Remember this spring when CPS tried to ban the book Persepolis? The students at Lane Tech High School who initiated the many student protests were awarded the Illinois Library Association's 2013 Intellectual Freedom Award.

Pick Up Your Remote

37signals' new book, Remote: Office Not Required, is available now.

Lit the Fuse

Writers, it's time to submit your work for the Reader's annual Pure Fiction issue, which comes out in January.

United States of X: Reading Edition

The Jungle is the local pick in Business Insider's map of the most famous book set in every state.

All She Wrote on the Calendar

The live-lit series That's All She Wrote turns one year old this Sunday, and commemorated the moment with a special show as well as the release of a calendar listing dates for more than 40 live lit shows around the city.

Women & Children First For Sale

Women and Children First, one of the few feminist bookstores in the country (and the only one in the city) is available for purchase. It'll be sad to see things change, but the current owners are willing to help with the transition, which hopefully means it will remain a feminist bookstore.

Offerman Speaks!

Nick Offerman's the man around town next week. He's at the Chicago Theatre Oct. 3, then talks about his book Paddle Your Own Canoe at the Music Box Oct. 4. He's also introducing a screening of Dead Man that night.

Fifty Shades of CTA

Not spotted on that Transit Readings blog we linked to last week: Fifty Shades of Grey. Looks like he just got to that one part.

RIP Frederik Pohl

Science-fiction author Frederik Pohl passed away this weekend in Palatine. He was 93. His most recent book, All the Lives He Led, was released in 2011, and he had been blogging right up until his death.

Help Find a Mobile Library

The Read/Write Library's amazing bike-based library, the Bibliotreka, was stolen over the weekend in Logan Square. If you spot it, get in touch.

Memoir of a Mustache

Nick Offerman has a book coming out, and Unabridged Bookstore is bringing him and his mustache to the Music Box on Oct. 4 for a book release party. Your ticket gets you a copy of Paddle Your Own Canoe.

Midcentury Corporate Art

Page through Art in Chicago Business, a book published in 1966 featuring art hung in the city's major corporations' collections -- along with executives who presumably had a hand in selecting them.

The Gift Returns

The Gift, a series on WBEZ that delves into the writing process (and more) with various authors, is taking a look back on much older works during August. The first is T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, read by poet Rachel Jamison Webster and filmmaker Spencer Parsons.

Go on a Book Tour

Ernest Hemingway's birthplace in Oak Park and the Poetry Foundation made Flavorpill's list of 50 places every literary fan should visit.

Do Drugs & Draw Pictures

John Campbell, creator of Sad Pictures for Children, has released a new comic book chronicling his experiences with the psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine.

Rahm to Jump in the Lake

Missed this over the weekend: Mayor Emanuel has pledged to do a polar plunge this winter if Chicago students read 2 million books this summer. Write your own punchline.

Quick Summer Reading

University of Chicago Press has launched Chicago Shorts, a series of short stories in DRM-free ebook form, perfect for an afternoon at the beach. This one is just 99 cents; the rest are $2.99 apiece.

Clowes' Chicago

Ghost World author Dan Clowes grew up in Chicago; Chicago magazine asked him to illustrate the city as he remembers it, "circa 1978."

O'Gara & Wilson's Final Chapter

Chicago's oldest bookstore, O'Gara & Wilson in Hyde Park, is closing after 100 years.

Ernest Hemingway's Ghost Wants to "Hijack" You

The Ernest Hemingway Foundation launched a new branding campaign that will pepper your Facebook page with posts as if you were spending an outrageous day with Hemingway.

Local Lit Luminaries

NewCity's annual Lit 50 ranking of Chicago's literary scene is out.

Dan Savage Speaks Out

Author, advise columnist and Chicago native Dan Savage is doing two shows June 20 at Lincoln Hall in support of his new book, American Savage. The early show is nearly sold out, and the late show goes on sale Friday at noon. Tickets include a copy of the book via Unabridged Bookstore.

10 Years of GB: McClelland's Adventures

Chicago magazine has an excerpt from author Edward McClelland's new book, Nothin' but Blue Skies, about the lives and deaths of Rust Belt cities. In 2006, Gapers Block published a series of 10 excerpts from McClellands book The Third Coast, which chronicled his travels around the Great Lakes.

Read them in order:
1. Sheboygan & Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
2. Marquette, Michigan
3. Mackinac Island, Michigan
4. Grand Marais, Minnesota
5. Pays Plat First Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada
6. Isle Royale, Michigan
7. Rogers City, Michigan
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Hamilton, Ontario
10. Hamburg, New York

MJ vs. Kobe

In his new book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, coach Phil Jackson finally compares Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The LA Times' Mike Bresnahan has the choice excerpts. [via]

The City in Pages

Curious City asks, what is the ultimate Chicago book?

Go Get Hacked

Dmitry Samarov's book Hack is being offered as a free ebook by the University of Chicago Press during May; get your copy here.

Get Your Comix On

Today is Free Comic Book Day! Find the closest participating shop here.

Dorkily Morbid

The new Quark Magazine interviews comic artist Alex Nall (with whom GB's Kelly Reaves spoke last year) about his web comic Morbid Dork.

Pencils & Markers at the Ready

This weekend, UofC's UChicomics club hosts a 48-Hour Graphic Novel Contest with special guests the Sun Brothers. There's still time to get involved. [via]

Missing the Airwaves

Last fall, Martha Bayne wrote a deeply personal story about getting pregnant and the subsequent miscarriage. She was interviewed by Terry Gross of "Fresh Air," but it never aired. At the Rumpus, she reflects back on that experience with her friend Zoe Zolbrod.

Getting Better

"Channel B," Megan Stielstra's story in The Rumpus about postpartum depression, will be featured in The Best American Essays 2013.

"Can Chicago not take criticism?"

Rachel Shteir responds to criticisms of her controversial NYTimes book review in a Q&A with Chicago mag's Carol Felsenthal; she's anything but apologetic. Meanwhile, Bill Savage touches on why the article has everyone so riled up.

Where Chicago's Women Writers Are

In response to the question posed in Rachel Shteir's off-putting book review of "Where are the women writers?" in Chicago, Claire Zulkey started a list.

Lost in Chicago

If you're looking for a good chuckle, turn to Rachel Shteir's out of touch review essay in the NY Times Sunday Book Review. In the essay she insists that Cook County is "known" as "Crook County," implies that "many of" the 6,000 buildings demolished from 1957 to 1960 were designed by Louis Sullivan, and claims the murder rate is the "second-highest" in the country. And that's just to start... Or maybe you'd like to read her 2010 essay, subtitled "Rahm Emanuel won't be Chicago's next mayor, because the city won't elect a Jew."

Local Odes

The Chicago Poetry Press is holding a poetry contest; get yours in by May 5.

The City in Pages

Chicago magazine runs down 40 of the best Chicago novels.

The Persistence of Bookstores

Independent bookstores survived the big box retailers and are thriving; now they're getting ready to face the rise of e-books.

Non-Repro Blue & Black Ink

Chris Ware is now on Tumblr, sharing bits and pieces and unfinished pages. Awesome.

Spoken Words

For National Poetry Month, the Poetry Foundation wants you to read poems out loud -- and add them to their Record-A-Poem group on Soundcloud.

Out of a Taxi, Into All Media

Dmitry Samarov has hung up his hack's license and is putting the finishing touches on his second book -- and just released some original music. Time Out finds out what else he's been up to.

Check out the Library

The Galewood-Montclare branch of the Chicago Public Library is in danger of closing due to a lack of activity, so neighborhood residents are taking action -- by checking out everything in the library. Stop by at 5pm to help out.

Poetry Book a Month

The Poetry Foundation has launched a book club; the first selection is To Repel Ghosts: The Remix by Kevin Young. Space is limited; register by email.

Persepolis Rising

In the wake of the CPS Persepolis debacle, several bookstores have sold out of the graphic novel and protests have continued. Eric Zorn and Ben Joravsky do a good job of laying out just how badly CPS handled it.

Hemon's Lives are in Chicago

Aleksandar Hemon's latest book, The Book of My Lives, is out today. Chicago magazine has an excerpt in which Hemon lists 20 reasons why he'll never leave Chicago.

One Book for All of Us

The newest contribution to One Book, One Chicago is the The Warmth of Other Suns. A 2010 review essay in The New Yorker and, of course, the Encyclopedia of Chicago provide some context.

Atypical Science Illustrations

Local animator and illustrator team Matt Lamothe and Jenny Volvovski collaborated with their Also partner to produce The Where, the Why, and the How, a book that pairs artists and scientists.

Buy Something from the U of C Library

If you're looking for something new to read or unusual books for collaging, the U of C library's annual book sale kicks off today. The "good" books tend to go during the first couple of days, but what's left for free by March 1 is usually pretty interesting.

Wesley Willis, Wonder Woman's Half-Brother

In a shocking revelation, dearly departed outsider artist and rock star Wesley Willis is revealed to be the half-brother of Wonder Woman, Milan, in an upcoming comic book. This doesn't explain why he whupped the asses of both Spider-Man and Batman. [via]

Pinups and Puppy Dogs

Boing Boing has a preview of Mitch O'Connell's new book, Mitch O'Connell the World's Best Artist. You can see some of the original artwork from the book at Rotofugi.

The Emanuel Family Secrets

The latest issue of Vanity Fair will include an excerpt from bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel's book about growing up with his more famous brothers, Rahm and Ari. (Thanks, Dee!) UPDATE: The excerpt is now online.

SCOTUS in Town

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is at the Harold Washington Library tonight at 6pm, talking about her memoir, My Beloved World. Space is limited; if you're not in line yet, you probably should be soon. UPDATE: According to the CPL, doors will open at 4:30pm; if you arrive earlier, line up in the first floor rotunda.

International Bookstore Review

The Paris Review reviews the new Seminary Co-Op. (Read about the move here and here.)

Creativity Fueled by Capital

Congratulations to Chicagoans Laurie Jo Reynolds and Srikanth Reddy for receiving grants in the 2013 Creative Capital funding awards.

Pride and Prejudice and Readers

The Greater Chicago chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America needs volunteers for a live reading of Pride and Prejudice in honor of the book's 200th anniversary. The live reading will be held at Block 37 from 7am to 7pm on Jan. 28.

Pre-Order Hot Doug's

Not your lunch, the book. Hot Doug's: The Book doesn't come out until July 16, but you can pre-order it on Amazon now.

Where is the Diversity?

The newly updated Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook shows you.

GB Gift Guide: A Drive into the Gap

Kevin Guilfoile's short memoir A Drive into the Gap is perfect for baseball fans and fathers. Read an excerpt on ESPN.

Let it Snow

There's a new book out about the Chicago parking phenomenon of "dibs." Not surprisingly, its author is hoping for a white Christmas.

GB Gift Guide: Lost Chicago(s)

Lovers of Chicago history and architecture would love David Garrard Lowe's classic book Lost Chicago -- and also John Paulett and Judy FloodstrandLost Chicago, which came out this fall.

GB Gift Guide: Pop Up Book Fair

Stop by the Chicago Writer's House Project's Pop Up Book Fair at The Empty Bottle on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 2pm to 7pm and get that bibliophile on your list some good reads from local publishers, like Switchback books, Other Voices and Curbside Splendor.

GB Gift Guide: The U of C Book Sale

The U of C Press is holding its annual book sale. Titles are steeply reduced, so you can pick up brand new books like The Encyclopedia of Chicago and The Chicago River for more than 60% off. Check out the full guide for the sale prices (PDF).

GB Gift Guide: Cooking Comic Prints

Comic book artist Sarah Becan -- who garnered national attention for her most recent graphic novel, Shuteye -- is offering some frame-worthy food-related prints from her webcomic Sauceome, including "How to Sear a Steak," "Sausages of the World" and (for the more adventurous eaters out there) "Pokemon Butcher Charts."

Typography in the City in a Book

Lidia Varesco Racoma has turned her blog, Typography in the City, into a book, focusing first on the West Loop.

So, You Have a Sister

Vader's Little Princess, the sequel to Jeffrey Brown's popular Darth Vader and Son book, is now available for pre-order.

Waffleizing a Book

Will it waffle? Past GB contributor Daniel Shumski asked that question on his blog, Wafflizer. That blog will soon be a book.

A Lost Veterans Memorial

Poet and activist Jennifer Karmin do a final street performance of her piece 4000 Words 4000 Dead today from noon to 1pm, beginning in front of the Vietnam War Memorial at Wabash and Wacker and ending in front of the U.S. Army Career Center at Harrison and State.

Cars, Bikes & Carriages

Mobile Phenomena is a book by Temporary Services detailing some of the many ways people convey themselves and their things through this world.

A Tale of the Undead

Zombie author Scott Kenemore's new book Zombie, Illinois transforms Chicago into a metropolis plagued with the undead. He incorporates the city's political structure and historical figures, including a zombie Al Capone.

Book Talk

If you missed Don Delillo's visit to the Harold Washington Library last week, Adam Daniels has recapped it at The Millions, and WBEZ has the full audio.

Ode the the Chief

Young Chicago Authors' Kevin Coval is releasing a book of poetry about Chief Keef. There's a release party for More Shit that Chief Keef Don't Like tonight.

The Book Thief & Genocide

Paul Rusesabagina, activist and subject of the film Hotel Rwanda, does a Q&A with WBEZ's Jerome McDonnell about the Rwandan genocide and The Book Thief, this fall's One Book, One Chicago reading selection, tonight at the Harold Washington Library.

Writing Out of Addiction

Bloomberg Businessweek interviews Srinivas "Cheeni" Rao, a former homeless drug addict from the South Side who wrote a memoir, In Hanuman's Hands, and is now in business school.

"The men who made comics worth caring about"

Rolling Stone held a roundtable discussion with Chris Ware, Dan Clowes and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. [via]

The Decline of the Southeast Side

Exit Zero is a book, documentary and website examining the aftermath of the decline of Chicago's heavy industry.

Meet the Madam

NewCity profiles Rose Laws, the "Gold Coast Madam" whose autobiography will be out in November from Lake Claremont Press.

Documenting the "Best Book Cave Ever"

Later this year the U of C is kicking the Seminary Co-op Bookstore out of its 50-year warren of rooms and relocating it to a former residence hall. In the meantime, Seminary Co-op Documentation Project has been following the process and producing audio interviews, photographs and other interesting tidbits about the bookstore. Background is available in this 2011 GB feature by one of the documentarians.

Ride Along with a Hack

Filmmaker John McNaughton's "video portrait" of Dmitry Samarov during his last days of driving a cab is now online.

How Sweetness Soured

Speaking of the '85 Bears, author Jeff Pearlman recounts in ChicagoSide how his biography of Walter Payton was panned by Chicago media without ever being read.

Dorian Gray, 78 Years Late

Forget that book from 1975 -- the oldest book returned in the Chicago Public Library's amnesty program is a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray checked out in 1934. You've got till Sept. 7 to beat that -- or just to return your late copy of Gone Girl.

125 Items for 125 Years

The Newberry Library turned 125 this year, and it's celebrating with an exhibition called, appropriately enough, The Newberry 125. It opens this Thursday, Sept. 6.

The Starlight Lounge Our Destination

Sci-fi fans have descended on Chicago for the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, which opens today and runs all weekend.

Register for Chicago Writers Conference

Chicagoist reminds that registration is open through August 31st. This first ever conference will be held at the Tribune Tower.

Fluidic Systems Design Guide

That's the title of a book returned to the Chicago Public Library returned this week that's been checked out since 1975. The lendee found it while cleaning his Naperville home, and returned it during the CPL's amnesty period, so he got away with it scott free.

The Battle Fort Dearborn's 200th

Today, Aug. 15, is the 200th anniversary of the Battle (or Massacre) of Fort Dearborn. Whet Moser has some reading recommendations for you.

The Poetry of @Horse_ebooks

GB contributor Erin Watson has launched a Kickstarter for a book of poetry based on @Horse_ebooks tweets. It's the latest addition to the GB curated page on Kickstarter.

Once In a Blue Moon

Starting August 20, the Chicago Public Library will be offering amnesty for overdue books. No fines, no questions, no nothing -- for three whole weeks. So if you've had a copy of Tropic of Cancer checked out since junior high school, now's your chance to return it.

Binding Chicago's Pools

Chicago photographer Missy Weimer is selling three handmade books of her 2010 Chicago pools project. One is still available.

Father, Son & Roberto Clemente

Kevin Guilfoile relates a mystery about baseball and memory in his new book, A Drive Into the Gap, which is published by Field Notes Brand Books.

Field Notes Brand Books: A Drive into the Gap, by Kevin Guilfoile from Coudal Partners on Vimeo.

Saving Sylvia

Nicole Hollander has been drawing Bad Girl Chats, an outgrowth of her Sylvia comic, for awhile now. She's running an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds to keep it going for another year.

The Big Book of Comix Stats

The Ladydrawers collective of comics creators are running an IndieGoGo campaign to produce an anthology of statistics about the comics industry.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Lake Forest

The Paris Review makes a visit to the town where Daisy Buchanan lived in The Great Gatsby, and sheds a little light on Fitzgerald's ties to the town. [via]

Contextualizing Communication

MAS Context continues to outdo itself in every issue with its newest, Communication.

This Dead Novel

When we celebrated the release of This Bright River with author Patrick Somerville last week, no one would have expected that the book would be panned by the New York Times based on a misreading of the first chapter, and that Somerville would then have an email exchange with the culture editor through the book's fictional protagonist.

A Hack No More

Artist/cabbie/author Dmitry Samarov drove his taxi for the last time last weekend. He'll be spending the next few months writing the sequel to his book, Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab.

From Bosses to Goo Goos

NPR recommends four books to help you understand Chicago politics.

This Bright New Novel

The GB Book Club is hosting a book release party for Patrick Somerville's latest novel, This Bright River, Tuesday night at the Book Cellar. Join us for a a talk with Somerville and a chance to win a copy of the book!

451: Not Just for Burning Books

Among Ray Bradbury's tributes may be a 451 status code, recalling Fahrenheit 451 when a page is restricted due to legal reasons.

Poetry: From Inane to Encouraging

The UofC Magazine is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poetry magazine by publishing excerpts from a few letters to the magazine's founding editor, Harriet Monroe.

Rule the Galaxy as Father and Son

Not sure what to get the dad in your life for Father's Day? You could do worse than Darth Vader & Son by Jeffrey Brown. John Wawrzaszek interviewed Brown in Book Club ahead of this weekend's Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, where he'll be drawing a minicomic live on Sunday.

A Bradbury Museum?

A museum dedicated to Ray Bradbury may be in the works for his home town of Waukegan.

Speed Readers

The Trib takes note of what people are reading on CTA these days.

Recording Young Poets

Agape Media Productions is raising funds to produce a CD of youth poetry. Give a hand.

Who's on the Books

NewCity's Lit 50 list is out.

Dybek's Back in Chicago

The Handshake interviews Stuart Dybek, now teaching at Northwestern.

The Caped Cartooner

A.V. Club interviews actor and comic book artist Chris Burnham, currently drawing Batman Incorporated.

Drawing the News, in Tablet Form

Symbolia is a planned "tablet magazine of illustrated journalism," currently accepting pitches for its first issue. Maybe they should team up with the Illustrated Press guys (previously).

"That didn't turn out so badly."

There is no shortage of love for Chris Ware on Gapers Block. So of course we have to share Fear No Art's interview with him.

Power v. People

A.V. Club Chicago interviews Dominic Pacyga, author of Chicago: A Biography, on Chicago's history of anti-protestor violence.

Children's Book Drive to Benefit Tsunami Victims

Chappell Elementary is holding a kids' book drive for Japanese children affected by last year's tsunami. The school, a world language magnet, is starting a Japanese studies program next year -- and the principal's been selected to participate in an educator exchange program sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Chicago.

"It was a dark and stormy night." Now You Go.

The Collabowriters is a collaborative "crowdsourced novel" project by artist Willy Chyr -- yep, the same guy whose art is on a Beck's bottle.

Kickstarting a Cabbie's Book

Author/artist/cab driver Dmitry Samarov is Kickstarting the sequel to his book Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab. We love Dmitry around here, so of course it went on our curated Kickstarter page

Buy it at a Discount?

Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever, Frank Sennett's book about the company and its mercurial founder, Andrew Mason, is now available for pre-order. It'll be out in hardcover June 5.

Lynda Barry Pictures This

Anne Elizabeth Moore interviews Lynda Barry in The Rumpus.

Book Talk

Just announced as part of Printers Row Live are events featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen and The Art of Fielding author Chad Harbach, on May 4 and May 7, respectively.

A Rejection Letter Runs Through It

Letters of Note shares the rejection letter sent by late University of Chicago professor Norman Maclean to an editor at Alfred A. Knopf, who had rejected his best-selling book A River Runs Through It. [via]

University of Chicago Hosts Comic Convention

On May 18-20 the University of Chicago will be hosting Comics: Philosophy and Practice, a three day examination of the past and future forms of the graphic novel. Speakers scheduled to appear include cartoonists Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, Joe Sacco, Phoebe Gloeckner, Charles Burns, Seth, Ivan Brunetti, Lynda Barry, Gary Panter, Ben Katchor, Alison Bechdel, Chris Ware, Carol Tyler, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Justin Green. Registration is free and open to the public.

Death of Print Brings Sales to Life

Apparently all Encyclopaedia Britannica had to do to sell more print editions was to announce they're done printing it.

Getting Wilder all the Time

Wendy McClure's book The Wilder Life is now out in paperback -- and is accompanied by Don't Trade the Baby for a Horse, an ebook of "Other Ways to Make Your Life a Little More Laura Ingalls Wilder."

Bulk up Your Reading List

It's Spring Books Week in the Reader. Can't guarantee any of it will be available at tonight's Book Swap, but you never know.

The Siskel & Ebert Story, on an E-Reader

Enemies, A Love Story, an oral history by Josh Schollmeyer of the relationship between "At the Movies" hosts Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert that first appeared in the debut issue of The Chicagoan, is now available as an eBook. [via]

244 Years isn't a Bad Run

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has ceased the production of its printed volumes and is selling its remaining inventory. Of course, it's trumpeting the transition as a step into the future. Some reaction from the Trib, The NY Times, The Atlantic and the Financial Times.

Buying Only Black

Maggie Anderson, founder of the Empowerment Experiment, spent a year shopping only at black-owned businesses. The result was a book, Our Black Year, which came out last month.

A Curious Update

Robert Duffer writes an update on the "curious case" of Columbia not renewing the contract of Fiction Writing Department Chair Randy Albers.

See (Some of) the Cushman Collection in Print

Historians and photo-lovers have long-browsed the extensive Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection and its amazing Chicago entries, but now you can view some of them in book form. For some background, read Lee Bey's interview with the book's editor, Eric Sandweiss.


The 2012 Chicago Zine Fest is just around the corner -- on March 9-10, small press and independent publishers will showcase their work and talent. Check out the site for a full listing of events, workshops and readings.

Amazon Unpublishes IPG

Amazon pulled the Kindle editions of more than 5,000 titles from Chicago-based Independent Publishers Group in a fight over terms.

Books Since '66

This weekend, Uptown's Shake Rattle & Read will be celebrating its 46th anniversary. And if the books weren't already cheap enough- everything in the store will be 46% off Friday through Sunday.

View Printers Row Online

Interested in the Tribune's new weekly book supplement, Printers Row? You can check out a free digital sneak peek here.

A Guide to Gangland Chicago

The Chicago Crime Commission released a 300-page book on the city's gangs today that estimates the number of Chicagoland gang members at 60,000 and notes the use of social media by gangs to organize and communicate.

Pens, Check. Bookbag, Check. Books iPad?

IBooks 2, a digital textbook service from Apple, was unveiled today. The move, in collaboration with textbook market majority publishers Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is likely to make Apple's iPad an education essential.

NYT reporter Jodi Kantor's book The Obamas, which goes on sale tomorrow, reveals a lot of interesting clashes within the White House, such as tensions between Mrs. O. with Rahm Emanuel and former press secretary Robert Gibbs, and that Barack used an AOL email address as recently as his Senate days.

Bathroom Reading

Past GB Book Club author Dave Eggers' work is now available in shower curtain form. [via]

Creating Distance

Nick Disabato, who was one of the first success stories on Kickstarter with his book Cadence & Slang, just launched a new Kickstarter campaign for Distance, "a new quarterly publication featuring long-form essays about design and technology." (Find other projects we think are worth your attention on GB's Kickstarter page.)

Marty the T

Chicagoist shares a new Christmas story from author Barry Gifford.

Unique Holiday Gifts, Pt. 24

In A/C we feature The Lost Panoramas, a new photography book chronicling the reversal of the Chicago River and its consequences. You can order a signed copy from the publisher for $35.

Not So Freaky Economics

Freakonomics, the best-selling book (and now multimedia empire) by UofC economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner, isn't all it's cracked up to be. [via]

Carl Sandburg's Birthplace Home is in Trouble

The Carl Sandburg Historic Site may not reopen in the spring thanks to worsening state finances.

His Amazing Fantasy

Chimera's Comics had some good news for a recent customer: A comic he found in the attic was the first appearance of Spiderman and worth around $12,000.

Bill O'Reilly, Shoddy Lincoln Scholar

FOX News personality Bill O'Reilly's new book about Abraham Lincoln is apparently so full of errors that many Lincolniana stores, including Chicago's Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, are refusing to carry it.

90 Seconds of Wonder

Author James Kennedy brings his 90-Second Newberry Film Festival to Chicago tonight at the Harold Washington Library. Go watch Newberry Award-winning books transformed -- by kids -- into 90-second films.

Next's iPad Cookbook Released

Next Restaurant's Paris 1906 cookbook is now available in iTunes.

Take a Ride with Hack and Book Club

The next Book Club author discussion will focus on Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab. Dmitry Samarov will be in attendance at The Book Cellar on 12/8.

The End of Borders and the Future of Books

In which Business Week assembles the company's entire timeline of mistakes.

LOLing in the Pews

GB contributor Dan Kelly has a new book out: Hilaretic collects his church reviews from the Chicago Journal and elsewhere.

Chicago Book Expo 2011

The Uptown Update's assembled a thorough run-down of the upcoming Uptown lit event on the 19th and 20th.

Hot & Fresh from the OR, Kells Has a New Mission

At 5am the pied piper of R&B, R. Kelly posted his first post-throat surgery song on twitter and confirmed his memoir Soulacoaster for a spring 2012 release.

For those wishing to send positive healing rays of energy towards R. Kelly to assist in the hardest comeback of his career there are appropriate prayer candles by Chicago artist Megan Garvey to focus your mental energy on.

Haters Wanna Hate, Readers Wanna Read

R. Kelly's new memoir, Soula Coaster: The Diary of Me will be released soon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt can't wait.

Hacking the Gibson!

Author/Futurist William Gibson's talk from the Chicago Humanities Festival has been posted to Youtube.

After falling down the rabbit hole of Gibson related links on youtube I found this promo video put together to raise funds for an independent movie adaptation of Gibson's first novel Neuromancer. Timothy Leary makes an appearance.

"I'm not friends with any cab drivers."

Dmitry Samarov does an interview about his book, Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab, in the most logical of publications Chicago Dispatcher.


Unabridged Books has a smart-looking (and -sounding) tumblr.

Books on a Budget

It might a little early for holiday shopping, but the University of Chicago Press is having a big sale on its back catalog. Here are all their books on Chicago.

Ebert on Kael

In anticipation of both a new biography and an anthology of writings, Roger Ebert reflects on his relationship with Pauline Kael, as well as her contributions to film criticism.

Dear Self...

Chicago-born Jim Belushi and Gillian Anderson among the celebrities who wrote a letter to their 16-year-old selves for the book Dear Me. (We had a similar Fuel thread a couple years ago.)

Guiding Emblems

Dan Blackman has developed a special graphic design vocabulary to honor a variety of Chicago institutions. They're part of the guidebook Graphic USA: An Alternative Guide to 25 US Cities.

Who Needs Bookstores? Also, Publishers

The New York Times discusses Amazon's new publishing division, which will debut 122 books this fall alone. Cutting out traditional publishers and dealing directly with the authors, it threatens not only the major New York houses but local companies as well.

Take a Library Survey

The Chicago Public Library is asking folks to take a survey on book-reading habits as it faces potential hour reductions in the proposed city budget. [via]

Another 124 Years of the Newberry

This morning the Newberry Library is expected to announce a $25 million fundraising campaign to make a host of improvements that will expand its storage capacity and improve access to its materials.

Balancing the Books Means Less Access to Books?

Mayor Emanuel included a proposal to cut Chicago Public Library hours in his 2012 budget.

Gacy in the News

A judge has approved the exhumation of one of John Wayne Gacy's victims for a DNA test. Meanwhile, Steve Rhodes reviews a new book about Gacy by one of his lawyers.

Cheap Books for Everyone!

The U of C Press is hosting its Great Chicago Book Sale at the end of next week for the first time since 2008. It promises more than 10,000 books at $5 a pop.

Punk Figure Henry Rollins in Oak Park

Henry Rollins, the punk icon himself, will be signing his first book of photographs Occupants at the Oak Park Public Library on Oct. 18. The signing is free and begins at 7pm.

Bitter Pills, 30 Years Later

Joy Bergmann follows up her 2000 Reader article on the Tylenol murders with an update and Q&A with Scott Bartz, author of the new book The Tylenol Mafia.

One Step Closer to an Electronic Library

As promised, now you can check out (some) Chicago Public Library books on your Kindle.

Chris Ware on the iPad

Chris Ware fans now have a reason to buy an iPad: his exclusive comic, Touch Sensitive, available only via the McSweeney's app.

Seminary Co-op Bookstore at 50

In Book Club, Megan Doherty dives deep into the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, covering its history, its place in a changing industry and the stories within its walls.

1919: Chicago Boils Over

Clay Risen writes an in-depth review of Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America. (Thanks, Daniel!)

"No coffee, no knick-knacks, just books."

In Book Club, Megan Doherty kicks of a three-part feature on the Seminary Co-op Bookstore with a look at its history as it turns 50.

David Sedaris Reads at Auditorium Theatre

Social satirist David Sedaris reads from his 2010 collection of animal-themed fables, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary at the Auditorium Theatre Nov. 12. The event includes a book signing. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.

Sinker does a Twitter Takeover

Tune into the Huffington Post Books Twitter account today, as Dan Sinker takes over for the day as part of his promotion of The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel. He won't be @MayorEmanuel -- he'll be writing some other sort of narrative fiction.

Celebrating An Unfinished Body

Chicago photographer Matthew Avignone earned second runner up in the student category of the Photography Book Now competition for his An Unfinished Body project.

@MayorEmanuel Redux

Tonight at the Hideout, Dan Sinker celebrates the release of his book The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel. The event is sold out, but you'll have another opportunity to hear him read from the book -- and be questioned by Carol Marin -- next Tuesday at the MCA.

House Porn

Chicago Home & Garden has published a book, Chicago Interiors, that's sure to make you jealous of some of your neighbors' kickass apartments. (In other words, it's Apartment Therapy in coffeetable book form!)

Cheney's Advice to Rahm

Dick Cheney goes for a laugh with an anecdote about talking to then incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in his new memoir, In My Time.

Jewball, Former Chicagoan Neal Pollack's Newest Latest, Scheduled for October Release

Former Chicago Reader reporter and now LA-bestselling author of Alternadad and the much-hyped satirical Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature during the white-hot McSweeney's era, author Neal Pollack has a new book scheduled for release this October. Jewball, an experiment in Kindle-only release from, follows on the heels of a newly successful wave of e-reader-exclusive publishing, and promises belly laughs galore.

Read the First Pages of Roger Ebert's Memoir

To be published Sep 13.

New One Book, One Chicago Selection

The Chicago Public Library has named Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March as the 10th anniversary One Book, One Chicago selection. Find out more about the pick on the Book Club page.

Bloggers in Residence is launching a writer in residence program, beginning with Alex Kotlowitz this Friday.

Literarily Amusing

Untoward magazine adds to the rich history of Chicago-based literary journals.

Outsider Artist

Meet Willis Earl Beal, an artist and musician who's the subject of a new limited edition box set from Found magazine.

The Video Channel of Ordinary Thought

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance launched a YouTube channel with profiles of their members and other Chicago writers.

Little House in the City

Tomorrow night, come to Sheffield's for a Book Club-sponsored discussion with Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life -- if you need a refresher, you can read our review here. First 12 attendees receive a special prize!

Be a Part of the League

The League of Courteous Cyclists, that is. Today's the last day to pre-order a discounted t-shirt designed by local artist (and cyclist) Sarah Becan promoting bike etiquette. (We interviewed Sarah in Bookclub last year.)

Awesome Little Library

The Chicago chapter of the Awesome Foundation (previously) has awarded its first $1,000 grant to Little Free Library, which is expanding into Chicago from Madison, WI.

The Reading Railroad

There's a movement afoot to transform a former CTA station in Washington Park into a public library.

Comic Book Shop Saved by Comic Book Character

On July 27, Marvel will release a special issue of their Spider-Man comic book featuring Spidey saving Chicago Comics from destruction. UPDATE: The cover will be one of these (Thanks, Donovan!)

Without Borders

Following an unsuccessful play for a bankruptcy-court auction (no bidders stepped in to save the national bookstore chain), Borders Group Inc. will liquidate its 399 stores, possibly starting as early as Friday.

Adventures in the Soviet Imaginary

Speaking of Soviet imagery, the University of Chicago's Special Collections Research Center is launching an exhibit of Soviet children's book illustrations. The show doesn't open until August, but there are already some interesting pieces online. Check out The Soviet Arts Experience for additional related events.

Drawing Class in a Book

Ivan Brunetti wants to teach you how to cartoon. If you can't take his class at Columbia, check out his new book.

The Trib's Book from Hell

The Chicago New Cooperative publisher's James O'Shea new book out, The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers, gets reviewed and placed in local context by Michael Miner and Brian Hieggelke.

Dangerous Discussions with Paul Hornschemeier

Read the review, talk to the author: Book Club's Jay Orbesen reviews illustrator Paul Hornschemeier's latest, Life with Mr. Dangerous. Come see Paul and discuss his work tonight at The Book Cellar.

Like The Moth to a Stage

Everyone's got a story. The Moth Story SLAM is a series that gives tellers a stage in which to share theirs, with this month's theme being "fame." Seating is limited and stories begin at 8pm tonight at Martyrs'.

Underground but Rising

In Book Club Rose Lannin interviews Nell Taylor, co-founder of the Chicago Underground Library, about the library's recent plight and plans for a new location. CUL is holding a benefit party at Beauty Bar tonight; our own Get-Together is around the corner. Go to both!

Gender Clash in Comics

Ladydrawers, a student group at SAIC that sprung from Anne Elizabeth Moore's class by the same name, has been sending out postcards highlighting gender issues in the comics industry to various people in said industry. More here.

Taschen Pops Up in the Art Institute

Taschen has set up a "pop-up store" Art Institute's main museum shop; presumably the selection leans more toward art books rather than the publisher's sexier stuff.

Structurally Sound Libraries

Thanks to this winter's blizzard destroying its old home, the Chicago Underground Library has gone mobile, popping up in various spots around town. Check out the latest this Saturday at North Branch Projects, when "Structurally Sound" opens for business.

Printers Row Lit Fest Gets Mobbed

Now this is a flash mob. More in Book Club.

Our Literary Eminences

New City's Lit 50, just in time for the Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend.

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance Celebrates its 15th Anniversary

Sonny Fischer tells the story of the founding of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary a week from today with a conversation between David Ritz and Aaron Cohen, as well as readings by members.

Black P Stones to El Rukns

If you enjoyed learning about Chicago's white gangs of yore, you should learn more about its black gangs, too. Natalie Moore and Lance William discuss their book The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: the Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of an American Street Gang tonight at 6pm at the Blackstone branch of the Chicago Public Library, 4904 S. Lake Park Ave.

Harry, Drawn

Lucy Knisley has been drawing posters of each of the Harry Potter books in abridged summary (ahoy, spoilers abound). She just completed The Half-Blood Prince, with only one left to go. Eventually you'll be able to buy them all.

Help Save An Evil Squirrel

Rogers Park comic book and gift store Evil Squirrel Comics is facing some tough financial times these days. Come out for Free Comic Book Day tomorrow, and also help keep them stay open by making some purchases. You'll get 30% off (cash or credit) plus you can buy back issues for $1/lb. all weekend. More on Facebook, including a heartfelt video plea (after the jump).

Evil Squirrel Comics is located at 6928 N. Glenwood Ave. just steps south of the Morse Red Line stop (west side of the train tracks).

Eggers in Grantland

Chicagoland native Dave Eggers is one of the all-star cast of editors and writers for, a new sports and culture website from ESPN that debuts in June.

Envisioning Chicago's Future

A book version of Daniel Tucker's "Visions for Chicago" project comes out next month. Badatsports' Abigail Satinsky interviewed Tucker for Art21.

CPL on Your Kindle

The Chicago Public Library (and other area libraries using Overdrive) will soon offer the ability to borrow books via Kindle. Whet Moser notes you can already do the same on your iOS or Android device.

Writers on Writers

The Reader's lit issue, out today, features five local authors talking about the books and writers that inspired them.

More Views from Above

This has been a good week for aerial photos of Chicago over time: Blair Kamin reviews a new book, Chicago From the Sky: A Region Transformed.

First Rule

I'm not entirely sure what "Guys Book Club" is about, but it sure ain't books.

When Neil Gaiman Attacked

James Kennedy, author of GB Book Club selection The Order of Odd-Fish, crafted quite the introduction for Neil Gaiman talk at this week's "One Book, One Chicago" event.

Linus, Lucy & Jimmy Corrigan

Cartoonist Nathan Bulmer asks, What if Chris Ware was Charlie Brown? [via]

Four Star Studio Double Feature Comic Show

Local comic book, design and illustration house Four Star Studios (Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, Josh Emmons and Sean Dove, respectively) recently created DoubleFeature, an iPad app featuring original comics for all ages and eventually, genres. Check out the reviews, which use phrases like "a solid 16 pages of awesomeness", "everything we want in digital comics", and "pretty great".

America's Beer Garden

Wrigley Field "attendance was more than four times more sensitive to beer prices than to winning or losing," UofC economist Tobias Moskowitz and Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim find in their new book, Scorecasting.

Eat Your Words

The Center for Book & Paper Arts' 12th annual Edible Books & Tea is this evening from 6pm to 8pm. Get there early -- the books aren't just for show, and you'd be surprised how many people are hungry for literature.

Grand Slam Poetry

Levi Stahl shares baseball-inspired poetry in honor of opening day.

Animating Valhalla

In Book Club, James Orbeson interviews producer Ruwan Jayatilleke about Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers, an animated miniseries based on the graphic novel by Chicagoan Robert Rodi.

Who was Wacker?

Wacker Drive is named for Charles Henry Wacker, the chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission from 1909 to 1926. He published a book, Wacker's Manuel of the Plan of Chicago: Municipal Economy, which for 12 years all CPS eighth graders were required to read -- and so can you.

Visiting Books in India

Chicago writer and photographer Alan Thomas shares thoughts and pictures from a visit to the Kolkata Book Fair and the city's book district.

Ghost in the Literary Machine

Ghost Ocean Magazine is a literary journal with an interesting (if somewhat cumbersome) interface.

@MayorEmanuel Lives On

Dan Sinker landed a book deal for his @MayorEmanuel twitter project; meanwhile, the academic community continues to debate the ethics of a journalism professor becoming "part of the story."

Long Live Zines

Al Burian's Burn Collector and Jessica Hopper's Hit It or Quit It are among the seminal "zines that changed [our] life" according to Flavorwire. Check out our three part preview of this weekend's Chicago Zine Fest in Book Club.

The Comics Professor

In Book Club, Rose profiles prolific indie comics creator Jeffrey Brown.

Be Good to Your Children ...

Particularly if you're in the mob.

DIY Refuses to Die: Chicago Zine Fest Year 2

Check out our new feature story in Book Club, a weekly interview and essay leading up to the Chicago Zine Fest -- get educated, get some zines, get that much more out of the celebration of independent publishing.

@MayorEmanuel Hooks Up Young Chicago Authors

Young Chicago Authors is $12,000 richer thanks to Rahm Emanuel making good on his promise to donate $5,000 to the charity of the author of @MayorEmanuel's choice. matched him, and Roe Conn and Richard Roeper each kicked in a grand during the meeting of the Emanuels last night on their show.

Profiling Indie Book Stores

In Book Club, we kicked off today a new series of profiles of independent book stores around the city. First up is Uptown's Shake Rattle & Read.

The GB Book Club Returns!

In person, that is. Join us as we read Joe Meno's The Great Perhaps and then discuss it with Meno himself at Sheffield's March 24.

For All Youse High-Hatted Funnybook Readers

An interesting juxtaposition of old and new signs downtown.

Food Truck Food Court

The release party for Heather Shouse's book, Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels, April 19 will double as the first-ever Food Truck Summit in the parking lot of Goose Island Clybourn.

Marginalia and Association Copies

The Caxton Club and The Newberry Library are convening a symposium in March about writing in books that should be far more interesting than it sounds.

Independent Bookstores Rise Again!

After you're done pillaging Borders, check out this list of independent bookstores located near the closing Borders locations. As always, other ideas are in the Book Club.

Pillage Borders

The sales at closing Borders stores begin Saturday; we've got your list in Book Club.

Talk About UX

FoGB Nick "nickd" Disabato discusses his book, Cadence & Slang, at tonight's UX Book Club meeting. Details in Slowdown.

Mark of the Trade

Long-gone Nedwick Books is the sole entrant in this collection of book trade labels -- though there are many more here. [via]

Bookshelves Get Technical

Shelfluv fills a virtual bookshelf with recommendations as you search; click through and buy what you find on Amazon.

Book Club Blogroll

The Book Club's compiled a list of notable, local literary blogs -- go check it out, and say something if you feel they've left someone out.

Snowbound Reading

The University of Chicago Press' free ebook for February is Who Wrote the Book of Love? by Lee Siegel.

Hey Book Geeks

Chip Kidd is speaking at Columbia later this spring!

Moving the Books

Seminary Co-Op, the well-loved bookstore in Hyde Park, is preparing to move next year. Chicago Weekly took a look through the stacks.

Praises for Richard Nickel and Adler & Sullivan

Dwell recently interviewed Ward Miller, co-author of The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan about Richard Nickel's photographs and Adler & Sullivan's work.

The New Publishing

Technori profiles Corey Blake, CEO of comics startup Writers of the Roundtable.

Book Buying

A new monthly feature in Book Club profiles local literary purveyors of titles new, used, and varied, starting with Andersonville's Transistor.

We Ain't So Literate

Chicago ranks 28th on a new list of the most literate cities in America.

Can God Make a Rock so Heavy Even Superman Can't Lift It?

In a massive geeksplosion of epic levels, Professor James Kakalios of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota will promote his new book the Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics at Chicago Comics this Friday. Kakalios is also known for his book The Physics of Superheroes.

Northwestern Psych Prof Thinks about W.'s Brain

Dan McAdams will appear this evening on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight." A Northwestern professor specializing in narratives and life stories, McAdams recently published George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait, a book focusing on the former president's personality.

Bad Economy = Busy Library

Art Daily reports that last year, the Chicago Public Library circulated 8.8 million items and provided 2.8 million free computer sessions. A less cheery statistic: librarians reported that 60 percent of their time with patrons involved helping them look for jobs on library computers.

Tumbl into Books

University of Chicago Press is giving away books for the next 10 days; all you have to do is follow one of its two accounts on Tumblr to be entered into each day's drawing.

The Woman Behind Sylvia

In Book Club, Rose Lannin talks with legendary cartoonist Nicole Hollander about her early days, Sylvia and her re-emergence on the web.

NewCity's Number Ones

Cultural weekly NewCity gives us their 2010 top picks in vintage TV shows filmed in Chicago, food trucks, indoor make-out spots, and many more.

Blue Christmas

NIU professor Bill Studwell, whose 25-year-long "Carol of the Year" project covered the histories of individual Christmas songs, passed away last August, a few months shy of completing the project. The Trib provides an interesting and touching retrospective on the man and his work.

Sedaris Seeks Allegory

Fear No Art has launched a podcast, and the first features David Sedaris, discussing his newest book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, his years living in Chicago and his advice for young authors.

The 2nd Hand is at 10

Literary broadsheet THE2NDHAND is 10 years old, and it's using Kickstarter to fund a commemorative book. Give them a hand, and also head to the Hungry Brain Tuesday night for its new performance series, So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?, which will feature a cameo by our own Ramsin Canon.

I Went to the 1893 World's Fair...

...and All I Got Was Brutally Murdered: what the title of Devil in the White City should have been, according to Better Book Titles, where you can "cut through all the cryptic crap" of titles local and otherwise.

Achatz on the Line

Both Eater and Grub Street have early peeks at Grant Achatz' upcoming memoir, Life, On the Line. Meanwhile, GQ offers a glimpse at Achatz' thought process behind Alinea's fall menu

Giants of Lit

In Book Club, we've got a report from the inaugural induction ceremony of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

Free and Beautiful

Flavorpill ranks and describes some beautiful libraries, with Harold Washington coming in third.

Newspaper + Marker = Poetry

Austin Kleon's newspaper blackout poems are exactly what they sound like: poems created by blacking out all but certain words on a page in the newspaper. Hear them set to music at Roosevelt University Dec. 6.

The City That Writes went live earlier this week, highlighting local books, periodicals and literary events. Chicago Artist Resource also launched a new literary section. (Previously.)

Exile on Exile

Ex-Chicagoan Liz Phair reviewed Keith Richards' new memoir for the New York Times.

Like Instapaper, but Actually Paper

The Reader's fall books sampler should give you a nice amount of reading this weekend.

GB Book Club: A History

The GB Book Club's discussion of Patrick Somerville's The Cradle marks our final Book Club meeting. Head over to the Book Club page to take a look back at everything we've read (63 books!) and join us one last time on Monday, November 8, at the Book Cellar. New faces, old faces, and everyone in between are welcome to join us and help say goodbye to what has been a wonderful time.

Every Person is a Philosopher

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance recently launched a new blog full of "discussion prompts; news and ideas about literary arts, social justice, current events, and more." If you like what you see, check out their kick off party one week from today at Intuit.

Sequential Art Stroll

Forget pub and bar and even zombie bar crawls are where it's at, specifically comic shops uniting for an inaugural Comic Book Crawl. First Aid Comics, Chicago Comics, Challengers Comics + Conversation, and Third Coast team up want you to come by, get 20% off with a filled out passport, and have the chance to win over $1000 worth of cool comic book prizes. Details available at each store. POW!

The Great American Novel in Thirty Days

National Novel Writing Month, the brainchild of U of C grad Chris Baty, kicks off today.

Soundtrack to a Novel

Largeheartedboy finds out what Kevin Guilfoile thinks you should listen to while reading his latest book, The Thousand. [via]

Give Second Chances a Chance

A compelling campaign commercial for Nathan Rabin's My Year of Flops.

Talking About Chicago's Obama

Occasional GB contributor Ted McClelland reads and signs his new book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, tonight at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.

Something to Blab About

There's a release party and signing for the latest edition of Mark Beauchamp's Blabworld (formerly just Blab!) tonight at 6pm at Intuit, 756 N. Milwaukee Ave. [via]

Many Books, One Mayor

Despite his flaws, Julia Keller points out a particularly nice thing Daley did: he built 59 public libraries. Not all by himself, of course, but you get the idea.

Free Chicago Guide

Explore Chicago just launched a free ebook called Eat, Play, Love Our Neighborhoods. You can probably guess what it's about.

Lifting the Curse

With just a couple days to go, the Kickstarter campaign for The Cursed Pirate Girl comic book has reached more than $31,000 -- 1250% its original ask.

Social Bookmarking

Currently in soft launch mode, Shelfworthy is a social network built around consuming media -- a lot like Delicious Library, but online and social.

How Grandpa Used to "Blog"

Quimby's and Baltimore's Atomic Books are sponsoring 2011: The Revenge of Print!, a challenge to all former zinesters to produce the latest issue of their long-dead zine. Get out the long-reach stapler and ironic clip-art, kids.

Reading the City

The University of Chicago Press' latest books about Chicago are 20 percent off right now.

Be One of the Thousand

Speaking of readings, Kevin Guilfoile will be reading and signing his book, The Thousand, tonight at the Book Cellar. Here's an interview with him at Huffington Post. [via]

The Night Bookmobile Pulls into Chicago

Audrey Niffenegger will be reading from her graphic novel The Night Bookmobile at the Harold Washington Library this Thursday. The Guardian has excerpts from the book. [via]

Zappos Founder Goes Underground founder Tony Hsieh is coming to Chicago on a bus, and spending Labor Day weekend in town talking about his new book, Delivering Happiness. So far, the only scheduled event is a benefit meetup at Underground on Friday. $20 gets you in; RSVP required.

The Imp is Free, Too

Speaking of free publications, the four issues of The Imp, "booklets about comic books" written by Daniel Raeburn about Book Club fave graphic novelists Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware as well as Jack Chick and Mexican historietas, are available for free download. Raeburn also offers a free excerpt from his book on Ware.

Original Chicago Style

University of Chicago press is giving away a free ebook of The Chicago Manual of Style, first edition.

Designing Obama for Free

The book Designing Obama is now available digitally. It's $4.99 for the iPad version or free online or as a PDF.

Bikes and Bars

This Sunday, occasional GB contributor John Greenfield will be signing copies of his book, Bars Across America: Drinking and Biking from Coast to Coast, at Lush Wine and Spirits, 1257 S. Halsted St. -- conveniently close to the Boulevard Bike Tour start/finish line. And if you stop into the new Rapid Transit Cycle Shop at 1305 S. Halsted, you can get a free Rapid Transit pint glass, which Lush will fill with free Half Acre beer at the reading.

Chicago's One Book Chosen

One Book, One Chicago has just announced its Fall 2010 selection: Toni Morrison's 2008 novel about early American slavery, A Mercy. For upwards of $1,000 per ticket, watch the author in conversation with Oprah Winfrey.

Freakonomics on Film

Freakonomics, the best-selling book by U of C economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, has been made into a documentary. Freakonomics the movie debuts on iTunes Sept. 3 and opens in theaters Oct. 1.

He Had It Coming

Ever wonder about the ladies on death row who dance the cell-block tango in the musical Chicago? Journalist Douglas Perry wrote a book about the real-life murderers and their stories.

Legends Never Die

In an interview with NPR, the author of a new book called Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster reveals close details about the famous gangster and the way city folk felt about him: "The real issue for most Chicagoans was the damage it did to the city's reputation. We already had an image of corrupt politics, we had a mayor who was widely perceived as being one of the most venal in the country's history, and then you've got these gangsters walking down the street with machine guns shooting it out on Michigan Avenue in broad daylight." Glorious times.

Literary Links

Bookmarks is a new Friday feature recapping Book Club highlights from the week -- it'll also often have new content that didn't make into the Monday through Thursday pages.

Chicago's Most Insecure Book Club

Local life coach and author Brian Vaszily has launched The Personal Growth Chicago Book Club. Every month, the group votes on one of three books in the genres of professional and personal growth. Most recently the group discussed What EveryBODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed Reading People.

Summer Reading Suggestions

The current Fuel thread about summer reading reminds me to post an oldie but goodie: Coudal's Field Tested Books, to which several GB staffers contributed.

Crime-Solving Animals

Get to know graphic novelist Aaron Renier, author of Spiral-Bound and the upcoming The Unsinkable Walker Bean, in Book Club.

Randy Wells Can Make Dip?

After six months of preparation, a cookbook will be released on Friday authored by none other than the Chicago Cubs. Chicago Cubs Cookbook features collected recipes and stories from players and coaches, and all proceeds will go to pitcher Ryan Dempster's foundation, dedicated to helping those with the rare DiGeorge syndrome.

Can I Use the First Person?

The Chicago Manual of Style answers your questions.

Roger Ebert Up Close

Sarah Hampson of The Globe and Mail has written a short and sweet profile piece on Roger Ebert, who lives in Lincoln Park with his wife Chaz. The Pulitzer-winning Sun Times movie critic has only a partial jaw thanks to a long fight with thyroid cancer, but can still crack jokes with the aid of his Mac laptop. Sustained through an abdominal feeding tube, Ebert is about to publish a cookbook called, The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker.

Things My Burglar Told Me

A 19th District police lieutenant emailed the Chicago News Cooperative with a list of simple crime tips and tricks-of-the-trade, all apparently provided by convicted burglars, a security consultant and criminology professor for a book called Burglars on the Job. Does that qualify as a self-help book?

Its Success is a Mystery

Chicagoland mystery writers' collective blog, The Outfit, got some great attention from the Chicago New Coop and New York Times.

You've Come to the Write Club

Chicago writer and performer Ian Belknap has sent out the call, and a group of authors will take up the challenge. Write Club, a three-round literary equivalent of a bare-knuckle fight out behind the dumpster, happens tomorrow night at the Hideout. Each pair of participants is given a theme to write on, and in just 7 minutes they have to write the stuffing out of each other. Full details of the event in Slowdown.

Book Bike Back on Board

The Book Bike has partnered with the Chicago Public Library and will be able to return to distributing books in the city's parks, Chicagoist reports. (Previously: 1, 2)

The Man Behind Stick Figure Hamlet

In Book Club, we've got an interview with Dan Carroll, author of webcomic (and now book) Stick Figure Hamlet.

The Park District Sends Book Bike Away

The Book Bike isn't welcome on park property unless it pays to be there; according to officials contacted by Chicagoist, he needs to get a ridiculously expensive permit.

Chicago Librarians Battle Fox

Fox Chicago drew heavy fire after suggesting that Chicago's public libraries are a useless waste of tax dollars. The response, a fiery 1000-word letter from Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey, is well worth reading.

Books Are For Squares

A Fox News Chicago report asks the burning question: Who needs libraries? Certainly not Chicagoans! Vehement book bloggers take issue.

Battlepug! ...and Other Comic Coolness

Meet Mike Norton in this week's One-Shots.

Literary Tops

New City's annual Lit 50 issue hit the stands this week in advance of the Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend.

Turning Pages from Afar

Local startup Readeo helps parents (or others) read with their children wherever they are, online.

Who You Callin' Cupcake?

Your home can taste a lot more like 1955 W. Belmont, thanks to the release of Bleeding Heart Bakery's first cupcake cookbook. Try your hand ahead of time with the recipe for Infamous Spinach and Apple Cupcakes shared with No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner.

NU Lit Goes Online Only

TriQuarterly, Northwestern's literary journal, is now online in only online from here on out. Coincidentally, the Chicago Underground Library recently announced it'd received a donation of a complete back catalog of the journal.

Become an Iron Chef

Our own Cinnamon Cooper's new cookbook, Everything Cast Iron, isn't in stores until June 18, but it starts shipping from Amazon on Monday.

They've Got Questions, They've Got Answers

Over in Book Club, a new column that that asks Chicago writers (this week, it's Billy Lombardo) to remember the funniest or strangest things they've been asked in a question-and-answer session, during a talk, or in an interview.

A Literary Look

There's just one week left to enter Chicago Public Library's annual poster contest. Check out the details and submit today.

Don't Go There

The University of Chicago Press is offering No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control, as a free e-book today.

Engraving Chicago

The publicity department for the Chicago Engraving Co. sure had beautiful letterhead. Their books were pretty nice, too.

Books by the Bike-load

Keep your eye out for The Book Bike this summer, wheeling books into places even the BookMobile couldn't reach.

The Reader's Black Book

Yellow goes black for its spring books issue, examining African-American life and culture in the 50 years since Black Like Me was published.

Food and Memories in Faber-Castell

Local comic book artist and hot dog aficionado Lucy Knisley gets interviewed in Book Club as part of the ongoing series One-Shots.

Live Free Verse or Die Trying

This is the weekend it all happens. This is the weekend the iambic pentameter falls into place. This weekend, my friends, is PoetryFest.

Paper Soul

Carolyn M. Rodgers, poet and founder of Chicago-based Third World Press, America's oldest and largest African American-owned book publisher, has passed away at the age of 69.

Revelations from Oprah's Bio: Popcorn Smells Better than Gasoline

Gawker has published a few excerpts from Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey, which went on sale yesterday.

An Excerpt from Life, then The Wagon

"For most of the day, I avoided the crime scene of the murdered Macedonian man."

Between Two Covers

Northwestern grad Roxana Saberi's memoir of her time spent as a prisoner in Iran, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran, was released Tuesday. Good Morning America has an excerpt and an interview. [via]

Better Reading Through Sequential Art

Over in Book Club, Josh Elder (founder and executive Director, Reading With Pictures, a nonprofit organization that advocates the use of comics in the classroom) talks about how comics play a crucial role in education. Also, Optimus Prime.

How'd You Like to Hear a Story?

Readings, discussions and other panels from an impressive group of writers are taking place this week at Columbia College's Story Week. All events are free and open to the public, so check out the calendar of events on their website.

High School Teacher Wins Literature Award

Whitney Young English teacher Brigid Pasulka's first novel, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.

Pick a Fight

REWORK, the new book by 37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson about the company's contrarian business philosophies, is out in stores and online today.

A Book About Publishing Said Book

Red Eye columnist, Stephen Markley just finished his comedic memoir-style book explaining the journey behind publishing that very book, entitled, "Publish This Book." His local Launch Party is March 11 to cast off his 3-month book tour.

A New Chris Ware Book

Not by him, about him. The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing is a Way of Thinking will be out in April.

C2E2 Sprinkles Some Stardust

This year's Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo will feature "An Evening with Neil Gaiman," the author's first theatrical reading performance in 10 years. Tickets go on sale today.

Roger Ebert -- NERD!

Continuing the lovefest, writer/editor Scott Edelman reran a fun interview he did with Mr. Ebert for Sci-Fi Entertainment about, yes, science-fiction. Fun fact: Ebert started the science fiction club at his high school.

Buffy the Rail Splitter

Michael Krebs is a local Lincoln presenter who's appeared at the Chicago History Museum, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and now the trailer for the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Incidentally, Mr. Krebs once played our 16th president as a member of the undead. Our president was a very complex man.

Talking Through the Joke

University of Chicago Press is offering Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters as a free ebook today.

Being Bookish for a Cause

Open Books is having their very first Open Boxes Book Sale this weekend with more than 10,000 literary donations being sold for a dollar each for softbound, $2 for hardbound. Or, fill a tote bag to the top for $25. Festivities start Feb. 26 to help fund Open Books' literacy initiatives.

Giving it a One-Shot

In Book Club, we've just launched a new bi-weekly feature: One-Shots, profiles of Chicago-based comic book artists and writers. First up, Ezra Claytan Daniels.

"A Directory of Human Needs for Chicagoans"

Mr. Scantastic has a very impressive collection of archaic Chicago ephemera, scanned for your viewing pleasure. For example, behold the grand Prudential Building--tallest edifice in the city! Or the mighty strange-looking Chicago's How to Do It Guide.

Potentially Landmarking the Hansberry House

The Chicago City Council may vote today to confer landmark status to 6140 S. Rhodes Avenue. The house was owned by Carl Hansberry, a prominent progressive African American businessman and father of playwright Lorraine Hansberry. A court case related to his ownership of the building ultimately struck down one form of racially restrictive covenants.


Early 20th Century graphic designer Lester Beall--educated and employed in Chicago for many years--was a trailblazer who created an immediately recognizable look for his work that incorporated modernist notions imported from the Bauhaus and other art movements. Here's a site devoted to the man and his ideas.

Talking about Writing

Chicago Tribune Books editor Amy Guth, Heather Momyer, Make Magazine co-founder Mike Zapata and fiction editor Tom Mundt and our own Ramsin Canon will be reading at Cafe Wha Who?, 228 W. Chicago Ave., tonight at 8pm.

A New Library in the Gardens

In a bit of good news, the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex will finally get a new public library branch in a nearby elementary school, more than a year after burst pipes closed its old one.

Free E-Book: Tim & Tom

University of Chicago Press is offering the e-book version of Tim & Tom, a memoir by comedian duo Tim "Venus Flytrap" Reid and Tom Dreeson, for free on its website. (Via Chicago Subtext, which is now written by Transmission contributor Jason Behrends.)

2010 from 1972

Dan Sinker bought the 1972 book 2010: Living in the Future from a public library 25 years ago. The moment has finally arrived to find out how different the world is.

Poetic Infighting

Trustees at Poetry are squabbling over how to spend Ruth Lilly's gargantuan 2002 gift.

One Day Only: Quimby's Becomes Svymby's

Hey, Chicago hipster old-timers (and young-timers): Steven Svymbersky, founder of Quimby's, is visiting from Amsterdam and hanging out at the store (1854 W. North Ave.) today from 1 to 5 p.m. He'd love to see all his old friends, so stop by!

9.2 Million

That's the record breaking number of items checked out of the Chicago Public Library this year.

Meno in Short Form

CellStories has five short stories from author Joe Meno -- including a brand-new one on Christmas Day -- which you can only read on the small screen in your pocket.

The Gospel According to Duped

Apparently the University of Chicago has been holding onto a fake illustrated Greek copy of the Gospel of Luke since the 1930s.

Trailer for a New Algren Documentary

A documentary on the life of Nelson Algren -- titled simply Algren -- is set to debut next year. The trailer has just been released. [via]

Food Minds Read Alike

Both Chicago Mag's dining staff and The Reader's Mike Sula posted their picks for 2009's best cookbooks today. Good gift suggestions for the cook in your life.

Life in the Closet?

R.Kelly is working on a memoir. It's as yet untitled, leaving satirists with a golden opportunity to shower him with suggestions.

Check It Out: Library Hours Being Cut

In these lean times, Chicago Public Library usage and circulation is up. Unfortunately, the hours at many facilities are being cut back.

We Are The World

The cover of the new World Almanac and Book of Facts 2010 has a decidedly Chicago feel, with Barack and Michele Obama and White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle (he of the perfect game) on the cover.

Edgar Miller Revealed in New Book

In A/C, we feature a photo essay by Alexander Vertikoff taken from the new book Edgar Miller and the Handmade Home: Chicago's Forgotten Renaissance Man.

The Monster Variations Review

Daniel Kraus's The Monster Variations is a dark, coming of age tale about three boys during the last summer they will spend together as friends. To find out more about this wonderfully told story, read my review over on the Book Club page.

Football and Funny Books

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has a (sort of) secret hobby, and he knows where to go to to get his sequential art fix. Listen here as he talks about growing up with comics, keeping that love alive in the NFL, and his fan site. GO BEARS! GO COMICS!

Regenstein Graffiti

To celebrate the release of Crescat Graffiti: Vita Excolatur, a book of graffiti found in U of C's Regenstein Library, author/photographer Quinn Dombrowski has launched the RegRemix contest -- do something nifty with the graffiti in any medium by Dec. 20 to be entered. See here for full details. [via]

Judge a Designer by His Book Covers

An excellent Q&A with University of Chicago Press senior designer Isaac Tobin. [via]

Cassette from My Ex: Live at Hideout Tonight

Come hear stories of mixtapes from past loves at the Hideout tonight, as contributors to Cassette from My Ex read from the book and illustrator Arthur Jones presents a hilarious loss-of-virginity tale in Post-It Note form.

Author Event & 2010 Book List

Have you been reading Travel Writing by Peter Ferry along with the Gapers Block Book Club this past month? The November meeting is coming up on Monday, and it will be a special event as author Peter Ferry joins us for our discussion. Get the details in Slowdown. Plus, find out what the Book Club will be reading next year -- the 2010 book list is revealed!

Still Not for Tourists in 2010

The 2010 edition of the Not For Tourists guide to Chicago is out, but you can download PDFs of the various sections for $1.50 each.

Which Came First, the Sum or the Formula?

Is mathematics ultimately invented or discovered? And for that matter, does that make God the ultimate mathematician? Tonight at 5pm, Dr. Mario Livio will lead a free lecture at Columbia College exploring a question that's plagued mathematicians, scientists and philosophers for centuries, based on his new book, Is God a Mathematician?

Celebrate Designing Obama Tonight

The book Designing Obama overshot its Kickstarter funding goal of $65,000 by more than $15,000 -- and the Post Family is celebrating with a launch party tonight at 7pm.

Your Friendly Neighborhood SpiderDan Skyscraperman

About 28 years ago a fellow by the name of Dan Goodwin scaled both the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower and a few other famous skyscrapers. Now he's back with a book. Look out! There goes the Spider Dan!

Funding Final Stretch for Designing Obama Book

Just a week left to help Scott Thomas of The Post Family fund production of Designing Obama, a book about the iconography and design of the Obama campaign. Pitch in here.

Our History in Print

HelloChicago hosts scans of several historic books about Chicago. You have to download them as PDFs, but it's still pretty cool.

Five Books, One Chicago

As noted in Book Club, Granta continues to extol the virtues of our fine burg by asking local booksellers to list their five favorite Chicago-themed books. This week: 57th Street Books.

Tell Us What to Read

The GB Book Club is putting together its 2010 reading list and wants your help.

The Twitter of an Extraordinary Gentleman

"Chicago femme fatale, known to police as 'The Nemesis Sweetheart,' claims sixth victim in underworld--one husband, five lovers." Librarian/researcher/author Jess Nevins finds and posts amazing historical headlines like that to his Twitter page under the "on this day in 1929" #otd1929 tag.

Hey Fiction Writers

Want to get paid to write for The Reader's 9th annual fiction issue to be released in late December- They're seeking submissions. Got writer's block? Here's a look at the archives of past published works for motivation.

Book Club Profiled in Tribune

The GB Book Club was featured in the Tribune this weekend as part of their series on Chicagoland book clubs. Check out the article, then check out the Book Club page for an explanation on why the five books listed made for great discussions.

Things You Never Knew Existed

The Chicago Public Library Book Cart Drill Team.

Gathering 'Round the Lightbulb

New York's The Moth is at Martyrs' tonight for a story slam: come with a story in mind, drop your name in the hat and you could be on stage telling it to the crowd.

Reading is Sexy

All the single ladies (and single men), hold your books up! According to the Sun-Times, the GB Book Club is the #2 way to meet your lover. Awww yeah...

David Byrne Talks Chicago Biking

The Trib took some time to chat with David Byrne about his new book, Bicycle Diaries, and got him talking about his cycling experiences in Chicago.

Book Club: Ballads of Suburbia Review

In Stephanie Kuehnert's Ballads of Suburbia, Kara McNaughton and her family find out that the suburban life they dreamed of when they moved to Oak Park isn't all it's cracked up to be. Find out more about this teen drama in my review on the Book Club page.

Behind Obama's O

The Post Family's Scott Thomas is working on a book about the art and design of the Obama presidential campaign. Help it happen by pre-ordering on Kickstarter.

Book Club: Her Fearful Symmetry Review

All I can say after reading Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry is: wow. Okay, that's a lie. I could say a lot more, and I do in my review over on the Book Club page.

Save Money, Read a Book

Chicagoans have cut back 11 percent on discretionary spending according to -- but one thing they're not scrimping on is books.

Explore Local Publishing

We cover a lot of local lit in our Book Club, but for an encyclopedic view of the city's publishing scene, head to the Chicago Publishers Gallery at the Cultural Center. It features more than 1500 books from more than 125 publishers, plus magazines and online publications, too. You can also read the Book Club's coverage of the Gallery's opening in October of last year.

Cadence & Slang

Chicago-based interaction designer Nick Disabato has launched a Kickstarter project to help fund his new book, Cadence & Slang. Simply put, Cadence & Slang is a book about interaction design. Help make it a reality.

Talking about The Echo Maker

Hey, have you been reading The Echo Maker by Richard Powers along with us at the Gapers Block Book Club? Our September meeting is taking place this coming Monday, Sept. 14, at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Check out the sample discussion questions on our blog, and visit Slowdown for complete meeting details. Hope to see you there!

Who Did What, Blago?

The worst thing about Blagojevich's book is it fails to name names as promised, says Steve Rhodes.

Book Club: Granta 108: "Chicago"

I had the good fortune to get an early look at the upcoming "Chicago" issue of Granta magazine and it is as fitting a tribute to our city as it is to the authors who have lived here and written about it. To get an idea of what the magazine contains, read my full review on the Book Club page.

Reading The Governor

Follow along as Eric Zorn reads Rod Blagojevich's book, The Governor, chapter by chapter: one, two, three, four and five so far.

They Say It Ain't So

The classic book Eight Men Out about the 1919 "Black Sox" may be much more fiction than fact, two Chicago lawyers argue in the latest issue of Chicago Lawyer.

School's Out the Question

Coudal Partners is running a quick contest in connection to Claire Zulkey's An Off Year (reviewed in Book Club last month): In just a couple sentences by email, tell them "what you would have rather done instead of starting on that first day of higher education" by noon tomorrow, and you could win an autographed copy of the book.

Book Club: Doubleback Review

In Doubleback, Libby Fischer Hellmann pairs two of her dynamic female leads - Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis - to uncover the truth behind the kidnapping of a young girl and the murder of her mother. Find out more about this fast-paced read in the full review over on the Book Club page.

Literature (in the) Buff

Naked Girls Reading is exactly what it sounds like: nude women reading literary works to an audience at Studio L'Amour. Of course, it's not for everyone, but if it's for you, you might even considering entering the "So You Wanna Be a Naked Girl" contest at this month's event, happening Friday. (NSFW, obviously.)

Granta Magazine Celebrates Chicago

For only the second time in 120 years, London-based Granta Magazine is devoting an entire issue to a single city: Chicago. And we're reaping the benefits, including a literary-star-studded kick-off September 14 hosted by Chicago Public Radio's Steve Edwards and featuring local authors Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife) and Aleksandar Hemon (The Lazarus Project). The issue features 26 other locals; check Slowdown for more details.

Up, Up, and Away!

Disney may have acquired Marvel, but superheroes and anti-heroes will still be out in full force in a few weeks at the Windy City Comicon, a growing and lively comic convention featuring a diverse array of local talent.

GB Book Club: The Echo Maker

Another month, another book for the Gapers Block Book Club. For September, we will be reading The Echo Maker by Richard Powers, the National Book Award-winning novel about the fragility and resiliency of the human mind. Read the introduction on the book club blog, and then join us at The Book Cellar on Monday, September 14, to talk about the book. See Slowdown for details.

Rock On, Chicago!

Are you fascinated by the music scene in Chicago during the 90's? Would you like to read a book written by James VanOsdol, former host of Q101's The Local Music Showcase? Well, thanks to you can make that book a reality by pledging money to fund this DIY venture. He's $12,000 from his goal so help him write on, Chicago!

The Poet Trader Passes

Rest in peace, John Dickson. Some examples of his work.

Book Club: Miles from Nowhere Review

Nami Mun's debut novel, Miles from Nowhere, about a teenage runaway, is becoming wildly successful. In my opinion, that success is fully deserved. Find out more about the book in the full review on the Book Club page.

Blagojevich on Blagojevich

You can now pre-order The Governor, "a proclamation that one man will not be silenced, that his side of the story must be heard and that the fight for American liberties and freedom must sometimes occur within its own borders," by Rod Blagojevich. Coming out September 8.

From the Moon to Chicago

Former astronauts--and Louis Vuitton icons--Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell visit Northwestern tonight to discuss their journeys, while Aldrin signs copies of his new book, Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon. Or, you can also celebrate everything Apollo 11 at Adler Planetarium.

Book Club: An Off Year Review

Local author and Funny Ha-Ha reading series host Claire Zulkey makes her novel debut with An Off Year, the story of a girl who's not sure that college is the right step for her. Find out more about this young adult read in the full review over on the Book Club page.

Help Write 2 Books

Well, not literally -- there are two Chicago book projects looking for funding on Kickstarter right now: a guide to Chicago greasy spoons and one about the Chicago rock scene in the '90s. Help out if you can.

Book Club: La Perdida by Jessica Abel

August brings us to Jessica Abel's graphic novel La Perdida, the story of a young woman whose innocence and willingness to trust others lands her in trouble while she's trying to find something to connect her to her roots in Mexico. Read the intro on the Book Club page now, then join us on Monday, August 10, at the Book Cellar to discuss it in person. New members are always welcome.

The Classics, Twitterized

As noted in Book Club awhile back, two local college students have landed an unusual book deal: Twitterature, out this fall from Penguin Classics, will translate classic literature into 20 tweets or less. That's 2,800 characters -- or about the length of the left-hand column on GB. Of course, for some, even that's too long.

We're #2! We're #2!

The Architects' Journal ranks Chris Ware's Chicago second in its list of Top 10 comic book cities. Go vote in their poll -- we're currently tied with a few other inked metropolises. (Thanks, Twitterer and fellow comic book aficionado DovBee!)

GB Book Club July Meeting

The Gapers Block Book Club is meeting this Monday, July 13, to talk about Every Crooked Pot by Renee Rosen. Every Crooked Pot is a sweet coming-of-age story about Nina Goldman, a young woman who was born with a disfiguring birthmark over one eye. She tries just about anything to fit in while growing up before finally finding self-acceptance. You can read the discussion questions on the blog, and find complete details about the meeting in Slowdown.

Rock the Written Word

Face it, there's only so much time you should spend this summer watching roadies switch out cables. Next time you're heading out to a show, take along one of these fine books about music recommended by Transmission staff.

Local Youth Writes Book

If the prospect of meeting Cory Doctorow isn't exciting enough for you, how about meeting everyone's favorite media critic (and BBQ fan) Nathan Rabin? The head writer for the AV Club will be at the Barnes & Noble at Webster Place tonight at 7:30pm to discuss his new book The Big Rewind.

Short Stories in Your Hand

Punk Planet founder Dan Sinker is launching Cell Stories soon, and is looking for submissions. Learn more in this week's Hot Type.

Don't Have the Money for an Original Plan of Chicago?

The Great Books Foundation is publishing a Centennial reprinting of the Plan of Chicago. If you want more details, here's their press release.

The Write Stuff at U of C

A former University of Chicago grad student gives a New Yorker magazine book section shout-out to two new publications from some of her fellow alumni from the school "where fun comes to die."

33 and a Third Bad

Our own Jim Allenspach created a series of fake covers for the popular 33 1/3 book series, exploring some of the worst possible album/author combinations. His set hass started making the rounds on blogs and spawned at least one imitator -- and now has inspired the publisher to run a contest for humorous covers.

Cisenos Honored in Pritzger Park

When carving a name in stone, it's a good idea to double-check the spelling. [via]

Gotham ♥'s Grant

Alinea's Grant Achatz has sold the proposal for Life, On The Line, written by himself and partner Nick Kokonas, to Gotham Books.

Book Club: Love and Obstacles Review

I was surprised to find Aleksandar Hemon's new story collection, Love and Obstacles, quite enjoyable. Find out why in my full review over on the Book Club page.

The Chicago Music Scene: 1990-1999

Chicago Rocked! 1990-1999 is the working title of an - as yet unpublished - book by former Q101 radio show host, James VanOsdol. The book chronicles the Chicago music scene in the 90's, as experienced by those who were at the core of it; and VanOsdol himself. He plans to independently publish the book and is currently seeking donations.

Bookwormy Chicago

Amy Guth is on a mission: compile a list of the 100 Quintessential Chicago Books. Her first step was polling Printer's Row Lit Fest attendees for their favorite classic Chicago books, and she now wants your input and write-in's.

What, No Quijibo?

Author Arika Okrent's 10 favorite words from invented languages, as told to UChiBLOGo. [via]

Book Club: Guide to the Printers Row Lit Fest

Navigating the Printers Row Lit Fest is always a daunting task. Over on the Book Club page we've selected some Book Club selection authors as well as other notable local authors, sellers and organizations to help you narrow down your schedule.

Slamming the Slam?

Marc Kelly Smith, creator of the Poetry Slam, expresses some misgivings about the growing popularity of this art form.

Away We Go Screening

Excited for the upcoming Dave Eggers/Vendela Vida film Away We Go? Visit the Book Club page to find out how you can go to a free screening next week.

Book Swap & Drive

Just a reminder from your friendly GB Book Club Editor that today we will have our first Book Swap & Drive with Open Books! Come see us at Black Rock and swap your books with others or donate your extras to help fund Open Books's literary initiatives. You can find the specifics in Slowdown.

Book Club: Passing Discussion Questions

The discussion questions for Nella Larsen's Passing are now up on the Book Club page. Join us next Monday, May 11, when we'll discuss the book in person at the Book Cellar at 7:30pm. New members are always welcome.

Digital Library Loan

Did you know you can download audiobooks and videos from the Chicago Public Library's website? All you need is a library card and some software.

Book Club: The Great Perhaps Review

The wonderful and talented Joe Meno has a new book out - yay! You can check out my review of The Great Perhaps over on the Book Club page.

Bookslut's Crispin Berlin Bound

Jessa Crispin, the founder of Bookslut, is leaving the Chicago, headed for Berlin. Her longtime assistant, Caroline Eick, is taking over as managing editor; Crispin plans to resume posting on the blog once she's settled and, according to her, stops crying.

Book Club: Book Swap/Drive

Got more books than you know what to do with? Ready to pick up some new reads? Sounds like a Book Swap and Book Drive is what you need. Good thing there's one coming up in May. Details on the Book Club page.

Posterized Book is producing a book, which includes several local poster artists -- and if you preorder it, you could get a limited edition Jay Ryan art print free!


I bet you didn't know Lindsay Lohan wrote poetry? She does -- it just took Kevin Guilfoile to find it.

Book Club: Passing by Nella Larsen

This month we take a look at what it means to be white, what it means to be black and how two women straddle the sometimes fine line that divides the two. You can read the intro to Nella Larsen's seminal work Passing on the Book Club page now, then join us on May 11 at the Book Cellar to discuss it in person. New members are always welcome.

A Foot Injury? Come On...

Jill Gage, a research librarian at the Newberry Library, argues the reason Charles Dickens skipped Chicago during his six-month tour of the U.S. was he was afraid of the Trib. Also, did you know that his brother Augustus is buried is Graceland Cemetery?

Happy Birthday, GB Book Club!

Tonight is the GB Book Club's fourth anniversary! Hope to see some of you at the Book Cellar tonight.

Schaumburg's Library Enacts Hygiene Rule

The Schaumburg Township District Library now has a rule prohibiting intense smells, adding additional fuel to the controversial relationship between the homeless and libraries. The rule supposedly applies equally to those with too much perfume and those who need access to showers, but we'll see how that plays out...

New Nelson Algren

The Reader publishes "Entrapment," a short story by Nelson Algren that will appear in Entrapment and Other Writings, a new collection of previously unpublished work.

Book Club: When the White House Was Ours Review

Local author Porter Shreve's When the White House Was Ours is a semi-autobiographical look at a family who creates their own alternative school in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s. To find out more about it, check out the review over on the Book Club page.

Free Chicago Books

Psst...would you like a case of free books for your school, organization, church or business? Visit the Book Club blog to find out how.

April Book Club: Then We Came to the End

This month the Gapers Block Book Club is reading Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, a debut novel that captures the highs and lows of the modern dysfunctional family--our co-workers. Although set during the dot-com bust of the turn of the century, the atmosphere of fear as characters try to avoid corporate layoffs at an unnamed Chicago ad agency has just as much relevance today. Read the complete introduction now at the Book Club blog.

Addams on Burnham

What would Jane Addams have said about the Burnham Plan? That's the question asked in a forthcoming book timed to the 100th anniversary of the great plan for our city.

Foie Gras Back in the News

Chef Didier Durand has announced plans to open a foie gras museum in his restaurant, Cyrano's Bistrot. Meanwhile, Mark Caro's Foie Gras Wars is selling like, um, foie gras.

The Travails of Pilsen

Sandra Cisneros may be the author of the latest One Book, One Chicago selection, but that doesn't mean she likes Chicago.

A Chris Ware Conversation

Graphic novelists Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi discuss the art of storytelling and capturing the texture of life on paper.

Book Club: The Book of Ralph Discussion Questions

The Book Club continues next Monday, March 16, with our discussion of John McNally's The Book of Ralph, a somewhat comedy, somewhat coming-of-age story about two very mismatched friends. You can check out the discussion questions on the Book Club page now, then join us at the Book Cellar to discuss it in person. New members are always welcome to join.

Underground Comics Queen Tells All

It hasn't been easy, but formerly Chicago-based independent cartoonist, teacher, and wind energy protester Lynda Barry has risen through a troubled childhood and rocky adulthood to become a creative legend.

"That's a lot of notes!"

GB flickr pool contributer Joseph Voves took a photo of dozens of his books and labeled them all for our enjoyment.


The Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet reports that former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will be writing "The Governor" for Phoenix Books. Gov. Rod "will write about his journey that led up to the twice-elected governor and former congressman being ousted from office." The book is scheduled to be released this October, just in time to make an excellent present for your favorite winter holiday.

Another High-Profile Store Closing

Borders still hasn't made any progress subleasing its four troubled stores, but it is planning to close its Magnificent Mile location at the beginning of next year.

Black History Book a Day

Writer Jeff Kelly Lowenstein is posting a black history book a day throughout February.

Book Club: The Book of Ralph

This month the GB Book Club will read John McNally's The Book of Ralph, a coming of age story about a mismatched pair of fifth graders, one wreaking havoc through the streets of Chicago and the other taking it all in while constantly questioning their friendship. You can read the introduction over on the Book Club page now, then join us on March 16 at the Book Cellar to discuss it in person. New members are always welcome to join us.

Book Club: A River Runs Through It Questions

Next week we'll meet to discuss Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It, and I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone feels about the differences between the movie and the book. Check out all of the discussion questions on the Book Club page now and join us with your thoughts on February 9 at the Book Cellar.

Uncommon Application

Sam Munson's debut novel, The November Criminals, was written originally for the University of Chicago admissions office as a response to an essay question. Publishing rights for the book reportedly sold at auction for close to $100,000.


We've been asking for poetry for Blagojevich to read at his next press conference over in Fuel. "Gov Blago Shakespeare" points us to his own fine collection.

Book Club: An Interview with James Kennedy

I recently had the delight of interviewing James Kennedy, author of The Order of Odd-Fish, and I got to ask him all the questions I was wondering while reading the book--where the story came from, how he feels about Harry Potter and the literary nature of the battle between good and evil. You can read the interview over on the Book Club page, and don't forget that you can see Kennedy himself tonight at the Book Cellar.


The Obama inauguration poem gets critiqued by people who should know...the fans and members of The Poetry Foundation based here in Chicago. Judging from the comments section, not everyone was enthralled by the piece.

Book Club: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

For February, we'll take a look at the book that inspired a renewed interest in fly-fishing, written by a University of Chicago professor who made his fiction debut in his 70's. You can read the introduction to A River Runs Through It on the Book Club page now, then join us on February 9 when we'll discuss it in person at the Book Cellar. New members are always welcome to join.

Quimby's Thinking of Starting A Book Club

Check their Website for details. That could actually be a very cool book club.

Architecture of Years Past

If you haven't explored Google Book Search, you owe it to yourself to find the time. Lynn Becker has an excellent starting point for you. [via]

A City Notebook

Moleskine released a "city notebook" for Chicago last year, with maps and other useful info printed right onto its hipster-friendly pages. There's also a blog to go with it.

Book Club: A Raisin in the Sun Questions

You can now check out the questions we'll use during our discussion of A Raisin in the Sun over on the Book Club page. Join us next Monday at the Book Cellar to take part in the discussion - new members are always welcome.

Somewhere, James Frey is Laughing

Angel at the Fence, the forthcoming memoir stemming from an account of a teenaged prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp who was kept alive by food tossed to him through a barbed wire fence by a young girl whom he would later marry, has been cancelled by its publisher after the author's agent revealed that the story was a hoax. Oprah has deemed Herman Rosenblat's account to be "the single greatest love story...we've ever told on the air" and has had Rosenblat on her show twice. Rosenblat is hoping for a third visit so that he can explain why he lied.

Chicago Works Its Magic

Add one more to the list of things to look forward to in the spring. The Museum of Science and Industry scored a coup of sorts last week, beating out institutions around the world for the chance to premier "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" next April. Tickets already available online.

Book Club: The Order of Odd-Fish Review

I don't think I can possibly tell you how great The Order of Odd-Fish is, but I sure as heck try in my review over on the Book Club page. This debut young-adult novel by local author James Kennedy is honestly one of the best things I've read all year.

2008 Nonfiction in Review

At the Gapers Block Book Club, we wholeheartedly agree that books make great gifts. You can find lots of fine gift choices on this week's round-up of notable nonfiction books about Chicago published in the past year. And, if you missed last week's fiction round-up, read it here.

Republic Windows Sit-in Over

Following an agreement from all parties, the Republic Windows & Doors workers have ended their sit-in.

Book Club: 2008 Chicago Fiction in Review

This year has brought us a wonderfully wide variety of new fiction publications. Head on over to the Book Club page to read about a few of them in our 2008 Chicago Fiction in Review.

Open Books Holiday Auction

Literacy non-profit organization Open Books is holding a holiday auction offering dozens of unique items for you to bid on. The proceeds from the auction benefit Open Books' many efforts to improve literacy in Chicago, so when you purchase something here, your gift goes much further than you can see. Bidding runs through December 12.

Terkel and Dybek and You

WBEZ's Studs Terkel archive keeps growing, this time with an hour-long discussion with Terkel and Dybek from the 2006 StoryWeek Festival of Writers.

Times are Tough

Make sure you return that copy of Twilight you borrowed on time: the Chicago Public Library is doubling its late fee to 20 cents per book per day.

Book Club: A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry's ground-breaking play A Raisin in the Sun is our January selection for the Book Club. You can read the introduction now, then join us on January 12 at the Book Cellar to discuss it in person. New members are always welcome.

Re-enthroning The Chicagoan

Slumbering in the U of C's Regenstein Library were nine volumes of The Chicagoan. The U of C Press wants you to know how grand it was. The covers, illustrations and images are particularly worth revisiting.

Atlantis of the Midwest

"The city stands there, in all its legendary green-rivered, fire-prone glory, and that once every 100 years, when it rises out of Lake Michigan, you can visit it." Decider discusses Chicago mythology with John Hodgman, author of the book The Areas of My Expertise.

Book Club: An Interview with Neal Pollack

GB Transmission contributer Jason Behrends lends us his talents over at the Book Club page for an interview with Neal Pollack. Come learn more about how fatherhood has influenced Pollack's writings and how we compare to readers in L.A.

Fact Follows Fiction

Crime novelist and lawyer Laura Caldwell was mugged while jogging in Lincoln Park last week. Her latest novel, coming out soon, just happens to feature a nearly identical scene, set in Old Town.

What's 538 into $700k?

Nate Silver, founder of (and U of C alum - go Maroons!), has reportedly signed a two-book deal with Penguin Group USA. One book will cover "the art of prediction", while the second will "be a Freakonomics-style guide to the mechanics of electoral politics."


From "50 Things You Might Not Know About The President Elect": he collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics. I think his motto leans more towards "With great power comes great responsibility." than "By my hands and I'll varnish this floor with your brains."

Book Club: Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine

Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine is the second novel from local author Ben Tanzer. Read our review of this pop-culture-infused story of flailing relationships over at the Book Club page.

Travel Talk

Tonight at 7pm, FoGB Anne Elizabeth Moore will be reading new work about "life among the cute and the Cambodian," based on her recent travels to the country, at The Parlor, a reading series sponsored by Bad At Sports Podcast and hosted by The Green Lantern, 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor.

The 2009 GB Book Club

The Gapers Block Book Club is ready for another year of reading as we release our 2009 book club reading list. We have another great mix of classics, new titles, award winners, bestsellers and lesser-known works — all written by local authors. So check it out, and don't forget to join us this Monday, November 10, for our last meeting of 2008 as the Book Club gets together to talk about Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott. Details in Slowdown.

RIP Michael Crichton

Chicago-born author Michael Crichton died today. Author of books such as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, his official site seems to be down, but here's his IMDB and Wikipedia page for easy browsing. He was 66 years old.

Joy for Joyland

Joyland is a new site dedicated to the collection of short -- sometimes really short -- fiction. The site is organized by city, featuring stories by authors who live or have lived there. They've just opened up a Chicago branch, edited by local blogger Levi Stahl. The first piece is Insult, by Chicago writer, artist and musician Joseph Clayton Mills.

One Month, One Book: NaNoWriMo

Hey, thinking about participating in National Novel Writing Month? You still have a couple days to prepare, and the GB Book Club has some local ways to get involved or gain local support.

Book Club: Interview with Irvine Welsh, Part 2

Head over to the Book Club page to read Part 2 of Alissa Strother's interview with Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. Part 1 can be found here.

Chronicling the Red Hot Lovers

UIC News recently profiled reference librarian Lynn Westney, author of the ever-popular article "Dew Drop Inn and Lettuce Entertain You: Onomastic Sobriquets in the Food and Beverage Industry."

Fine Arts Book

There's a "new" book in the window at the wonderful Prairie Avenue Bookshop downtown: a reprint of a book on the Fine Arts Building. See what else is new here.

Book Club: Interview with Irvine Welsh

GB Staffer Alissa Strother has a very thought-provoking conversation with Irvine Welsh over on the Book Club page. Check out part one now and then come back next week for the second half of Alissa's interview with the Scottish author and former Columbia College faculty member.

Book Club: Suggestions for 2009

As we start on our last selection of the year, we want to know what you want to read next. Check out our past selections on the Book Club page and then email us your Chicago-related suggestions at bookclub[at]gapersblock[dot]com.

Bloggy Baby Daddy

The Sun-Times profiled daddyblogger Matthew Miller of Maybe Baby this weekend. Miller has a book coming out based on the blog.

Book Club: Dirty Sugar Cookies Discussion Questions

The discussion questions for Ayun Halliday's Dirty Sugar Cookies are now up on the Book Club page. Take a look at them now and then join us as we discuss the book at the Book Cellar on Monday, October 13.

The Ghoul's Grave

On his latest book tour, author Neil Gaiman is reading a chapter from The Graveyard Book at each stop, and recording it. He read chapter three at Anderson's Bookshop in Downers Grove on Friday.

Reading an Open Book

Open Books is a non-profit literacy center and volunteer organization planning to open a bookstore next year. Help them out Oct. 26 with a donation to the Great American Book Drive.

Book Club: Interview with Stephanie Kuehnert

Transmission contributor Jason Behrends takes a literary detour for an interview with author Stephanie Kuehnert (I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone). Head on over to the Book Club page to check it out.

Book Club: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Discount

Head on over to the Book Club page to find out how you can get a special discount on the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's latest production, available to GB readers only.

And Possibly Trapped Sea Birds?

Has Roger Ebert's site been hacked or is he really trumpeting Creationism? I'm going with hacked. Yep.

Attention, Writers

Windy City Story Slam, pet project of local writer Bill Hillmann, is looking for 5-10 minute story submissions for their next event on October 4. What makes this event extra special? October competitors will share the stage with special guest and world-famous author, Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, Filth, Crime, etc.)

Get in on the Scene, Man

Whether you're a fan of poetry, readings, or a writer and performer yourself, you'll be glad to know that The Poetry Center of Chicago has a new online resource for local literary types. The Chicago Scene is a just launched online listing of poetry readings and events going on around town. Even better, you can promote your own events by shooting them an email.

On The Road Again

Check out all of the local events happening over the next few months in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's iconic masterpiece, On the Road. Among them, a new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Photography and, of course, the book's original manuscript making a stop at the Columbia Book & Paper Center from October 3 through November 30.

David Foster Wallace Dies

Writer David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, committed suicide Friday evening at his home in California. Wallace, 46, whose parents were professors at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Parkland College, was also a 1997 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient and a former faculty member at Illinois State University.

Book Club: Dirty Sugar Cookies

This month we turn to lighter fare with the food memoir Dirty Sugar Cookies by Ayun Halliday. The book is an autobiographical account of a picky young eater turned brave food adventuress and comes complete with recipes you can try. You can read the introduction on the Book Club page now, then join us on October 13 when we'll discuss it in person at the Book Cellar. New members are always welcome to join the discussion.

"They Better Be Good"

The Reader has a great excerpt from a book by Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen about their experiences as the first black-and-white stand-up team.

Everybody Wasn't Kung-Fu Fighting

Shameless self-promotion: I interviewed rock and roll wrestler Bob Calhoun (aka Count Dante) about his new book Beer, Blood, and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling and did a little write-up for the Reader. Bob will be reading from BB&C at Quimby's tomorrow night.

Book Club: Native Son Discussion Questions

Head on over to the Book Club page where you can now look over the questions we'll use to discuss Richard Wright's Native Son. We'll meet at the Book Cellar on Monday, September 8, to discuss it in person. Whether you've been participating for months or this will be your first time, we welcome everyone who wants to join us.

The Night Bookmobile

As Alice notes in the Book Club blog, The Guardian is serializing a new illustrated book by Audrey Niffenegger.

Transitions Transitions

Transitions, a new-age bookstore that was in dire straits in 2006, closed over the weekend, possibly for good.

Book Club: Native Son

For September we're reading one of Chicago's classics: Native Son by Richard Wright. Not only was the book an immediate best-seller when it was published, but it also made Wright the wealthiest black writer of his time. You can read the introduction to the book on the Book Club page now and then join us on Monday, September 8th, when we discuss it in person at the Book Cellar. New members are always welcome.

Square Book

Nick Osborn, the creator of the Square America vernacular photography blog, has a new book coming out next week. If you pre-order Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America by today, he'll throw a free DVD in with the book.

Book Club: Wizard of Oz Discussion Questions

We're getting ready to discuss our August selection - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - over on the Book Club page and you can now get a headstart on the questions that we'll ask. See you on Monday the 11th at the Book Cellar for our discussion of this children's classic. New members are always welcome.

The Last Novel

Palatine native and science fiction legend Frederik Pohl collaborated with fellow sci-fi grand old man Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) on a book called The Last Theorem. Written by e-mail, Clarke finished reviewing the final draft only days before he died on March 19. The book will be released August 5.

Book Club: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

This month we take it back to the turn of the 20th century with one of the most beloved children's classics - L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It's a nice relaxing and fun read that's perfect for these languid summer days. You can read the introduction on the Book Club page now and then join us on Monday, August 11, when we discuss it in person at the Book Cellar. New members are always welcome

Faster Than A Speeding El Train...

The Chicago Examiner introduces us to a new anthology of modern superhero stories, which gets a big boost from Chicago writers.

"I've Always Wanted to Write a Book..."

Here's a good place to start. The Beginning Fiction class begins Sept. 9.

Beef Up Your Summer Reading

Looking for a book to take on vacation with you? Is Greater Than has a good roundup of lists from local authors, publishers and booksellers — and there's always Field Tested Books from our friends at Coudal Partners.

The 'Sweet' Life

There's a book signing next week for "Sweet Swinging" Billy Williams, a Cub legend. Read about it here.

Click and Renew

Stepping firmly into the 21st Century, the Chicago Public Library has updated their website to allow patrons to renew and place holds on materials from the convenience of...anywhere.

The Other Lit List

Every year, NewCity publishes its Lit 50 list of the most influential people and organizations in Chicago's literary scene. This year, the Guild Complex offers an alternative list that's less book oriented. [via]

Summer Reading Starts Now

The Gapers Block Book Club is reading Free Burning by Bayo Ojikutu for July. This dark novel tells the story of Tommie Simms, who loses his job at a downtown insurance firm after 9/11 and turns to selling drugs to make ends meet. Free Burning chronicles his swift descent and profiles a neighborhood ravaged by poverty, gangs and drugs, where everyone is a hustler. Read the book, and then join on on Monday, July 14 at The Book Cellar beginning at 7:30pm for our discussion. New members are always welcome.

Books for Dad

The GB Book Club has some suggestions for books for dad for this Father's Day.

R.I.P., Algis Budrys

Evanston-based science-fiction writer, editor, and teacher Algis Budrys passed away on Monday. The author of such books as Rogue Moon and Who?, Budrys wasn't a household name, but his friendship with and encouragement, critique, and mentoring of numerous sci-fi writers—many of whom have written deeply appreciative eulogies to the man—is perhaps his greatest legacy.

Field Tested for Your Convenience

The 2008 edition of Field Tested Books has launched, telling the stories behind where a particular book was read by an assortment of writers, designers and others -- GB Transmission editor Anne Holub and yours truly among them. New this year is a printed book collecting the best from all three editions and a sweet poster from Spike Press.

Steinberg Watch

A round-up of advance press for Neil Steinberg's new book Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life, courtesy of So-Called "Austin Mayor". If you've been reading GB for a while you probably have a good idea of what this new book covers.

Exploding People and Pulped Hands

Comic book writer Warren Ellis announced that he'll attend the WizardWorld Chicago comics convention at the end of the month, and shared some amusing comments on Rosemont, smoking, and shaking hands.

Navigating Printers Row

The Printers Row Book Fair is like Christmas in June for the GB Book Club. This year's fair is scheduled to include the participation of more than 200 authors and 150 booksellers, publishers and more, and its all free to attend. Once again we've put together a guide to highlight the best of the fair, including all the authors of current and past Book Club selections making appearances. Read the guide on the Book Club blog now.

Please Do

The latest issue of local literary mag Please Don't is up, casting its gaze on TV and music, and featuring new short fiction by Susannah Felts.

Literary Chicago

Just in time for the Printers Row Book Fair, NewCity publishes its Lit 50 list.

Book Club: Naked Discussion Questions

The discussion questions for this month's Book Club selection, Naked by David Sedaris, are now up on the Book Club page. Take a look at them and then join us on Monday, June 9, at the Book Cellar to discuss. Hope to see you there!

Get Your Sedaris Tix Today

David Sedaris, author of the GB Book Club's June selection, is coming to Barbara's Bookstore at UIC on June 12 to discuss and sign his latest collection of essays, When You are Engulfed in Flames, which comes out today. If you want to attend the discussion, you'll need a ticket -- learn how here -- but anyone can get in line for the signing.

Book Club: Naked

This month the GB Book Club takes a turn for the witty with the much acclaimed Naked by David Sedaris. Get to know the author as a nervous young boy, a disaffected youth, and an even more nervous adult in his collection of personal essays that are part memoir and part true comedy. You can read the introduction on the Book Club page now. We'll meet on Monday, June 9, at the Book Cellar to discuss the book -- new members are always welcome.

Happy Birthday, Studs

Author and radio host Studs Terkel, the quintessential Chicagoan, turns 96 today. WFMT-FM (98.7), which hosted Terkel's interview show from 1952 to 1997, will feature special programming dedicated to the author of Working, The Good War and Division Street all day long.

The Endless Appeal Of Pulp

A recent episode about Pulp Fiction from the Wisconsin-based show "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" has two great Chicago stories to share: a brief interview with Studs Terkel discussing Nelson Algren, along with a longer interview with Chris Ware about the history of comics. (Real Audio to listen, though they have a podcast too.)

Cory Doctorow At The Library

Cory Doctorow, one of the forces behind the delightful Boing-Boing blog and prolific sci-fi author, is coming the Chicago Public Library to speak. And as we've noted in Slowdown, he's also stopping in at a Barnes & Noble while in town.

A Visit from Little Brother

Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow is coming to town next week to kick off a tour in support of his latest book, Little Brother.

Free Comics Saturday

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! Check the site for locations near you, or just take a look at Time Out's handy list.

Babes, Bullets, and Brass Knuckles

The Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention starts today in Lombard. The Chicago area has an admirable pedigree in the story of pulp fiction, being the birthplace of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs and magazines like Weird Tales. Gotta love those tawdry covers.

Gapers Block Book Club May Selection

The GB Book Club is now reading The Grass Dancer by Susan Power for our May meeting. Find out more about the novel by checking out the introduction to the book on our blog. Then read The Grass Dancer and join us on Monday, May 19 at The Book Cellar for our discussion.

Rainforests, LUMA and The Cosmic Serpent

Anthropologist Jeremy Narby, author of The Cosmic Serpent, will speak at LUMA today as part of their spring exhibition, Manifest Destiny/Manifest Responsibility. BYOAyahuasca.

GB Book Club Turns 3

Congratulations to our very own GB Book Club, celebrating three years with tonight's meeting. Stop by if you can!

Chicago Resident's Book Makes it to Hollywood

At least that's where I think Pam Anderson is living. Hat tip to Anne Elizabeth Moore for sending the link, and writing the book.

Book Club: Middlesex Discussion Questions

The discussion questions for the GB Book Club's April selection, Middlesex, are now posted over at the Book Club page. We look forward not only to discussing this rich epic with all of you, but also to celebrating three years of Book Club! Come enjoy treats with us and wish us a happy third anniversary on Monday, April 14, at the Book Cellar at 7:30pm.

'The Hat' is Back

Former Chicago aldermanic legend Dorothy Tillman resurfaced over the weekend at a speaking engagement in Gary, Ind. to promote her new book, Hang Onto Your Hats: A Pictorial Journey of Dorothy Wright Tillman. Yes, she was wearing a hat.

Book Club: The Kept Man

Head on over to the Book Club page for our review of Jami Attenberg's compelling second book, The Kept Man. Sure, it's a love story, but not the kind where the girl gets the guy and everything all works out in the end. Sometimes, that's just the kind of story you need.

What To Read Next

The spring 2008 selection for One Book, One Chicago: Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye.

Book Club: Middlesex

The GB Book Club's selection for April is the Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Join us as we delve into three generations of Stephanides family history that ends with Calliope, born a girl in 1960, and Cal, reborn a boy fourteen years later. It is a grand story of gender, identity and fate and what all of these mean for one person. Read the introduction on the Book Club page now and join us on April 14 for our discussion at the Book Cellar. New members are always welcome.

Library Site Redesign

Looks like the Chicago Public Library redesigned their site. Searching is a lot easier than it used to be, and it does a better job of highlighting media that are not paper books.

Bet on Books

The Morning News will soon hold its fourth annual Tournament of Books, and Coudal Partners has opened the betting window. Think you know which book will come out tops? Lay $10 on the line and you could win big -- plus, you'll be helping to buy books for children. Everybody wins!

Book Club: At the City's Edge

Back in Chicago after serving time in Iraq, Jason Palmer finds himself embroiled in a different kind of war. In his homeland he encounters economic disparity, gang violence and an attempt at social justice that leaves his brother dead in the wake. Head on over to the Book Club page to read our review of Marcus Sakey's fast-paced second novel, At the City's Edge.

User Generated Guidebooks

Wikitravel is now publishing travel guides that are updated every month, ensuring you're getting the latest info for your upcoming trip. And the project's first guidebook happens to be about Chicago.

Book Club Reading Fire Sale

The Gapers Block Book Club is reading Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky for our March meeting. Fire Sale is the twelfth novel in Paretsky's bestselling V.I. Warshawski mystery series, but also a great introduction to both the series and the character. For more information about the book, read the introduction on the Book Club blog. Then join us on Monday, March 10, at 7:30pm at The Book Cellar for our discussion.

Book Club Author Event

Have you been reading The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlburg Springs along with us this month? If not, what are you waiting for? The February meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club is coming up this Monday, Feb. 11 at The Book Cellar, where we will be joined by Enchanters author Brian Costello. This promises to be a good time, so put your snow boots on and join us on Monday. The discussion begins at 7:30pm, and new members are always welcome.

Tonight: The Third Coast

In '06 and early '07, we featured excerpts from The Third Coast, a book about life by the Great Lakes by Ted McClelland. It's finally published, and we're celebrating tonight at the Hideout from 6 to 8:30pm. Ted will read excerpts from the book, and Marquette, MI, musician Sycamore Smith (featured in the book and in Detour) will perform. It's free!

GB Book Club February Book

For our February meeting, the Gapers Block Book Club is reading The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlburg Springs, the debut novel by Brian Costello. Enchanters charts the life and death of a rebel band that shakes up its Florida suburb over one frantic summer, changing everyone's lives forever. Read the introduction to The Enchanters Vs. Sprawlburg Springs on the Book Club blog, and join us on Monday, February 11 at The Book Cellar to talk about the book.

Open Books Is Moving -- Help Them Out!

Open Books, Chicago's first nonprofit literacy bookstore, is moving to new headquarters, and it's put out the word for people to help them move 100,000+ books. They might have to make two trips. Full details at the Open Books Website.

For Those Who Resolved To Read More in '08

The Short Story Reading Challenge is just beginning to hum over at this group blog. Post reviews and reading lists, share your favorite passages, get excited about bite-sized fiction.

2007 Chicago Book in Review

This week the GB Book Club has its annual round-up of Chicago books published in the past year, including fiction by local authors and nonfiction books about our city. From mysteries to graphic novels, and from water tanks to horror movie TV shows, the list reveals another strong year for local talent.

New Year, New Book Club

As the Gapers Block Book Club heads into its fourth year, we have a full list of books to read in 2008, starting with our January selection, Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz. Read the introduction to Never a City So Real on the Book Club blog now, then read the book and join us on Monday, January 14 at The Book Cellar at 7:30pm to talk about the book.

Not in Kansas

Sarah Paretsky left behind her famed Chicago detective V.I. Warshawski for the first time in the new Bleeding Kansas. According to the Sun-Times, she should have stayed in the city.

The Magic of America

The NY Times draws attention to Marion Mahony Griffin, the first licensed female architect in Illinois and primary illustrator of Frank Lloyd Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio, among other achievements. Visit her 1,600 page memoir for more background.

Give the Gift of Reading

Books make great gifts. Today the GB Book Club features a few local booksellers and publishers and tells you what they are recommending this holiday season in the book club's "Last Chance Gift Guide."

Ray-cing Against The Clock?

Minute No. 13 of Rachael Ray's 15 minutes of fame will be spent at the Borders on State and Randolph, where the ubiquitous Food Network cook will sign copies of her new book, "Just In Time" at noon tomorrow. Wristbands are required to attend and will be handed out beginning at 8 a.m.

Who'd Outlast Whom?

Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, offers some thoughts about what would happen to Chicago if we were all to disappear tomorrow.

Please Do.

Please Don't, a new Chicago-based online literary journal, has released its first issue. Contributors include Jonathan Messinger and Patrick Somerville.

That High-Class Brothel on Dearborn

The NY Times Freakonomics blog has a fascinating interview with Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City.

Silver Tongued Devils

Watching the clock, but still have no plans for the evening? Columbia College is premiering its new reading series, Silver Tongue, tonight at The Court. Playwright Idris Goodwin (whom URChicago calls one of the most influential people in Chicago under the age of 30) will perform.

Having His Cake and...

As if being a well-known musician and painter weren't enough, Sam Prekop, multi-tasking frontman for The Sea and Cake, will sign copies of his new book of photography this Saturday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., at Quimby's. Prekop's paintings have been shown in New York City, Houston, Paris and Glasgow. Sam, one word: vacation.

StoryCorps Goes from Audio to Book

The StoryCorps trailer travels the country as an oral history center on wheels, allowing everyday citizens to record stories from their own lives on tape. Now StoryCorps Founder David Isay has hand-picked some favorite tales and compiled them into a book. Hear him read and discuss at Women & Children First on Sunday, Nov. 18 or in Naperville on Monday, Nov. 19.

Behind the Design: The Chicago Spire

Not quite the expose on Santiago Calatrava (also known for his work on the Milwaukee Art Museum), but Creative Review, a design magazine based in the UK, showcases the design work of Third Eye Design who did the collateral for The Chicago Spire. Even if you don't like the Spire itself, the accompanying literature praises our fair city.

Book Club: Disgrace Discussion Questions

Get a leg up on our November 13 meeting by checking out the discussion questions for J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace beforehand. Post any responses you have in the comments section or join us next Monday at the Book Cellar where we'll meet in person to discuss this, in my opinion, phenomenal piece of writing.

The 2008 GB Book Club Reading List

We received your suggestions and counted the votes, and now we are ready to unveil the selections for the 2008 Gapers Block Book Club. Just for starters, next year the book club will be having a fire sale, visiting Sprawlburg Springs, getting naked with a contemporary humorist and going off to see the Wizard. Check out the full list at the GB Book Club blog.

Swap it! Swap it Real Good!

If you're like me, you've got loads of books hanging around your shelves that you're just not too attached to any more. So tonight, grab up to 15 of them in your arms, and head to the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville for the Chicago Reader's annual book swap. It's a free (21+) event from 5:30pm-9pm, and the first 300 folks through the door get some Reader swag to boot. No magazines, technical, medical or really distressed books.

Everyone Has a Secret

Frank Warren, the man behind the PostSecret weblog and books, will be doing two book-signings in Chicago today in support of his new book, A Lifetime of Secrets. At 12:30pm he'll be at the DePaul University Bookstore, 1 E. Jackson, with a multimedia presentation. Then at 7:30pm, he'll be at the UIC location of Barbara's Bookstore, 1218 S. Halsted.

Book Club: Disgrace & Apartheid

J.M. Coetzee, author of our November selection Disgrace, is well known for his literary explorations of social relations in post-apartheid South Africa. To help you better understand the politics and social unrest driving the novel's plot, and to save yourself some research time, check out the brief history of apartheid over at the Book Club page.

NPR as Vice

In celebration of Tuesday's release of Peter Sagal's The Book of Vice, Chicago Magazine has a profile of the author and public radio persona that includes an inside look at the production of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me."

Book Club Recommendations

We're at the end of our 2007 Book Club picks and we're still in the process of selecting what we'd like to read for next year. That means that this is the perfect time for you to tell us what you want to read. Send us your book club requests and recommendations at bookclub[at]gapersblock[dot]com. The only requirement is that the books be somehow related to Chicago.

Book Club: Disgrace

The GB Book Club's November selection--the last one of the year--is Disgrace by Booker Prize winning, Nobel Prize winning author J.M. Coetzee. Though Coetzee is most known for his contributions to South African literature, he has also served as a professor on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and that suits our purposes just fine. You can read the introduction to this prize-winning book now and join us at the Book Cellar on November 12 to participate in the discussion.

Pages on this Patch

That Chicago produces great writers is of no question, but great books about our fair city written by hometown boys and girls are rare gems. Chicago magazine went to the experts to put together a list of great books about Chicago, most of which were authored by insiders.

Mr. Skin Contest At Barbara's

Have you recently tested your nude IQ? On Oct. 11, Chicago smut slinger Mr. Skin [NSFW] will be speaking at the Barbara's Bookstore at UIC and hosting a gameshow testing your knowledge of exposed celebrity naughtiness.

Book Club Happenings

There are a couple of things to note over at the Book Club page. First, the discussion questions for Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father are up and you can either start posting your answers in the comments now or wait until we meet to discuss the book on October 8. Second, we've got a review of the new local mystery/crime/noir anthology, Chicago Blues, which features the authors who work on The Outfit Collective, among others. If the book sounds interesting to you, come out to Buddy Guy's Legends next Friday to celebrate it's release and chat with the contributors.

Dybek and Welch on the Radio

Chicago Public Radio's "Hello Beautiful" interviews lawyer, author and MacArthur Grant recipient Stuart Dybek on this weekend's show; last week they talked with Patrick Welch, founder of the "micromentalist" art movement (whom we profiled earlier this year).

Hiding Out Review

There's been buzz a-plenty over featherproof Books publisher/Time Out Chicago editor Jonathan Messinger's first book of short stories, titled Hiding Out. Head on over to the Book Club page to read a review of this little literary gem and, if you're free, make a trip to the Hideout tonight to help Messinger and friends celebrate its release.

The (Gold) Coast of Chicago

The MacArthur Foundation just released the names of its 2007 Fellows, and Stuart Dybek earned the award (along with its $500,000). If you've never checked out the program's details, you may want to check out the FAQ.

The Chocolate War War

Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War (number four on the ALA's most frequently challenged books list) has once again raised parental hackles. This time at John H. Kinzie Elementary School in Garfield Ridge. The irony of demanding the banning of a book that decries mindless conformity has, of course, been entirely missed by those wishing to protect the little ones from masturbation references and swear words. And hey! It's just in time for Banned Books Week!

Book Club Behavior

If you've ever considered joining a book club, but wanted to know more about proper etiquette (Do you have to read the whole book? Who decides what to read?), the Sun-Times offers the first in a three-part series to help you out. Among those interviewed are the vice president of the Great Books Foundation and our own Book Club co-moderator, Alice Maggio. Parts two and three to be published on Wednesday and Sunday. (And don't forget, new members to the GB Book Club are always welcome.)

"My Bed Wasn't On Fire"

A footnote in Del Close's biography, Wasteland was an anthology of short comics written by Close and fellow actor (now comics writer) John Ostrander in the late '80s. Here's a sample story, a parody of both Harvey Pekar's popular American Splendor and R. Crumb's drawing style. (This thread on a comics forum includes a great anecdote about Close supposedly undergoing tests for the US space program.)

Clinton In Town Today

You can catch a glimpse of Bill Clinton (former President, and prospective First Husband) at the Michigan Avenue Borders today at 11:30 a.m. as he signs copies of his new book "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World".

Book Club: Peel My Love Discussion Questions

Whether you want to get a leg up on next week's discussion or you're just interested in following along at home, be sure to check out our discussion questions for Ana Castillo's Peel My Love Like an Onion, posted at the Book Club page. Enter your thoughts in the comments or let us know how you feel at the September 10 meeting.

New One Book, One Chicago Title Announced

The latest title in the city's "One Book, One Chicago" program was announced today: Arthur Miller's "The Crucible".

Critspeak and Candid Discussion

The annual conference of the Association of Literary Critics and Scholars is scheduled to take place in downtown Chicago this October. There will be readings, seminars, panels (including one called "The Culture of Cities: Revising the Chicago Story") and a keynote address by James Wood. Email ALSC about volunteer opportunities if you'd like in on the action for free.

More Simic Connections

The new U.S. Poet Laureate, Charles Simic, may currently live in New Hampshire, but he has strong Chicago roots. Amongst other connections, he spent "the most important year" of his life in Oak Park.

Word Jazz Online

Movie trailer watchers and late night WBEZ listeners familiar with Ken Nordine may want to check out his website Word Jazz, which includes a blog with unusual poems starting with "Maybe the moment" and a podcast of his late night stylings.

Book Club: Peel My Love Like an Onion

It's been a hot, steamy summer and what better way to cap it off than read a story with a romance to match? Flamenco dancing, love triangles, betrayal and loss abound in Ana Castillo's Peel My Love Like an Onion, the September selection for the GB Book Club. Read the introduction here, then come join us on September 10 at the Book Cellar to discuss it. New members are always free to come by.

Poet Laureate Gets Start in Chi-Town

Charles Simic, the 15th Poet Laureate of the United States, started writing poetry "to impress girls" and was first published in the Chicago Review.

Chicago Daily Observer Launches

Chicago Republican Tom Roser announces the launch of Chicago Observer, "a 5-day-a-week commentary from the center-right-with enough Democratic and liberal opinion to give it an edge".

A Body of Words

Dictionary editor and local blogger Erin McKean was the guest columnist for William Safire's "On Language" column in the NYTimes last weekend.

No Spoilers, Please!

An enterprising Downers Grove teenager devised a solution to avoid hearing Harry Potter spoilers.

Project Chicago

Tim Gunn, fabulous style mentor for Bravo TV's "Project Runway" has written a book called Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style. And he'll be coming to Chicago to sign that book at three different locations on New Year's Eve Day. I wonder where he'll be at midnight.

Where to Get Leighed has a neat interview with Karen Abbot, author of Sin in the Second City, about the famed Everleigh Club. (Thanks, Matt!) Medill News Service offers up a record of another recent interview.

Printers' Ball Busted

The aforementioned Printers' Ball was raided by the police last night. Reasons were not immediately clear. (More at Chicagoist.)

Printers' Ball: More than Books

Not that we need more than books, but literary and non-literary types will get into The Printers' Ball tonight. In addition to an assortment of print materials and people, some swell performers and other activities will be going down. Personally, I'm hoping for a performance of "Waiting Room" (mp3). Details in Slowdown.

Butterbeer Specials This Friday

No, Butterbeer isn't some craze from Wisconsin, it's the beer from the book series that revolves around a scarred teenager named Harry. But, if you are a fan and wonder what in the world you're going to do after you rush to Women and Children First to pick up the copy of the book you've already paid for, then wonder no longer. This Friday, Andersonville is Potter-friendly with drink and eats specials at area businesses (if you know the passwords), there will be fan fiction readings at The NeoFuturariam, roving Ministry of Magic reps, and even a scavenger hunt.

Nostalgie de la Boue 2

Shameless self-promotion: I wrote a piece about Karen Abbott's new book Sin in the Second City and the infamous Everleigh Club for this week's Reader, which was slimmed down from a longer version (available here, in case you have some time to kill).

The August Book Club Selection

The Gapers Block Book Club is reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, an old-fashioned love story and captivating page-turner about an old man remembering the time he spent working with a circus in Depression-era America. Visit the book club blog and read our short introduction to the novel. Then join us on Monday, August 13, at 7:30pm at The Book Cellar to talk about the book. New faces and new voices are always welcome.

Getting in on the Action

Following the lead of Gapers Block (or possibly Oprah), Barack Obama is starting a book club. Alas, it's in New Hampshire, so rid your head of the idea that you'll be hanging out on a coffeehouse sofa talking literature with the senator. The first book? Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama.

Nostalgie de la Boue

Karen Abbott's new book, Sin in the Second City comes out today. Delve into the lusty dealings of Chicago's most notorious turn of the century house of ill repute, the Everleigh Club, which sat at the center of the stormy battle between the reform movement and the denizens of Chicago's infamous Levee district.

Read, Listen & Watch

Green Lantern is hosting a book launch/video screening/reading tonight from 7pm to 9pm at 1511 N Milwaukee, 2nd flr. Josh MacPhee will discuss his new book, Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority, our own Anne Elizabeth Moore will do a short reading and discuss the demise of Punk Planet, and Dara Greenwald will present her rotating collection of short videos that make you laugh and cry. It's free; BYOB.

Illustrated Satire

And in more Ware news ... we'd forgotten how cool the Chris Ware-drawn cover of Voltaire's Candide from Penguin Classics truly is.

Punk Planet Closing Up

Punk Planet is ceasing publication. The 13-year-old independent magazine has fallen victim to the same distributor bankruptcy issues (though a different distributor) as McSweeney's, and find themselves with no option but to close down. and the book publishing unit will continue on, but PP #80 will be the last.

Skinema Signing

Chris Nieratko is one of those guys who most people view with a mix of disgust and awe. He's worked with the "Jackass" folks, written for such publications as the skateboarding mag Big Brother, Vice, and Hustler, and now he's published his bizarro collection in his new book, Skinema. Get your copy signed June 26 at Quimby's.

Googlization at Midwestern Libraries

Google and the Midwest-based Committee on Institutional Cooperation announced an agreement to digitize up to ten million volumes from member universities. Local member schools include the University of Chicago, Northwestern and UIC.

Book Club Guide to the Printers Row Book Fair

The Printers Row Book Fair is upon us once again, spreading out around Dearborn and Polk this Saturday and Sunday for some great new and used book buys in addition to wonderful author events. Over at the Book Club page we've put together a little guide to help you get through this year's fair. Whether you've been keeping up with our selections or are simply overwhemled by the jam-packed literary schedule, we hope the guide will help you decide how to spend your time. Enjoy the fair -- you'll definitely see us there.

Chicago-on-Chicago Lit Love

The latest addition to Oprah's Book Club is Middlesex, by Chicago author Jeffrey Eugenides. More here.

Bring a Book, Take a Book

Looking for something new to read? Well, new to you, anyway? The Reader Book Swap is tonight at Nick's Uptown. Details in Slowdown.

One Heck of a Headline

Bloomberg's recent review of Johan Van Overtveldt's book about the University of Chicago Department of Economics has one heck of a headline, alongside some interesting information about the department. If you like what you see, you may want to catch his upcoming speech.

Happy Birthday, Louis Terkel

Today is the 95th birthday of Chicago author, broadcaster, and historian Studs Terkel. WFMT has even arranged it so you can leave the man many happy returns of the day.

Book Club: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

We're going sci-fi classic over at the Book Club this month, picking up one of the most widely known books in the genre. If you've seen Blade Runner then you already know what the story's about -- after all, this is the book on which it was based. I'm a big sci-fi fan myself, so I'm very excited to offer you the introduction to our June selection: Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. I hope to see you all at the meeting next month.

Local Lit

City bookworms have another web destination in Literago, which intends to serve as "a portal to news and information about literary goings-on in and around Chicago."

Art and the City

A Danish Art organization recently published a catalog of activist art projects that happened in Chicago between 2000-05 called "Trashing The Neoliberal City." The projects span from the 2001 Department of Space and Land Reclamation to the 2004 ASK ME!, the Pilot TV efforts of 2004 and the 2005 CHAos hoax on the Chicago Housing Authority. Download the free PDF here or check the event details for tonight's release party at Mess Hall as part of Version 07 on Slowdown.

Help Women & Children First

Women & Children First has been a fixture in Chicago's literary and independent business community for almost 30 years, but that could change very soon without your help. We've been tracking the stories on the GB Book Club blog.

Richard Nickel's Photographs on the Radio

Yesterday, All Things Considered ran Edward Lifson's fine examination of the architectural preservation photography book Richard Nickel's Chicago. Bonus: the song that plays at the end of the piece is from the Rachel's album Music for Egon Schiele, which was composed for a Chicago theater production.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Novelist, essayist, playwright, artist, activist, and, yes, City News Bureau of Chicago reporter, In These Times contributor and University of Chicago graduate, Kurt Vonnegut, has died. "So it goes."

Book Club: The Year of Pleasures

Don't let the fact that Oprah picked one of Elizabeth Berg's many pieces for her cult-like book club scare you. The Year of Pleasures is actually quite good and you'd be doing yourself a disservice to judge it beforehand. For a little taste, head over to the Book Club page for an introduction to our next selection, then join us at the Book Cellar on May 14 to discuss this story of woman's promise to the husband she lost.

Book Club with Rick Kogan

Don't forget -- tonight is the GB Book Club meeting where we'll discuss A Chicago Tavern, a history of the famous Billy Goat. All of our meetings are special, but tonight's will be even moreso as author Rick Kogan joins us for what will surely be a lively and enlightening discussion. 7:30pm at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. Hope to see you there!

Chicago History Roundup

From the establishment of the Hull House Theater to the World's Columbian Exposition, the Sun Times lists their take on "The 50 Greatest Chicago Moments."

Chagall Fans, Take Note

It's been a rough few years for Chicago's Chagall fans. His beautiful America Windows has been off exhibit at the Art Institute because of construction on the museum's new wing (and won't be back till 2009). And in 2005 one of his paintings was sold to a private collector. However, we still have the Four Seasons, and there's a new biography. Its author, Jonathan Wilson, is discussing it tonight up in Evanston. Slowdown has you covered, or visit the Nextbook website to buy tickets.

So Green Architecture isn't a Passing Fad

Someone smart at the Tribune asked its arts and architecture critics what prompted them to reevaluate artists in their disciplines. Some second looks include the Trap Door Theatre, William McDonough and Walker Evans.

Excerpts From "End of Watch" by Ed Burke

Alderman Edward M. Burke and co-writer Thomas J. O'Gorman are set to publish End of Watch: Chicago Police Killed in the Line of Duty 1853-2006 tomorrow. The book "examines the remarkable sacrifice of 526 sworn officers of the Chicago Police Department". Tons of chilling, detailed excerpts over at the Sun-Times, from 1919 through the 70s.

A Neighborhood's Tribute to Barack Obama

You're probably overwhelmed by articles about Barack Obama by now, but if you're still interested in learning about his local roots, you may want to check out the Hyde Park Herald's special Obama issue. The entire 24-page issue is Obama-centric, including a lengthy article about his wife, Michelle.

Beasts! I Tell You

Several local artists contributed illustrations to the new book, Beasts!, and many of them will be at a release party/book signing at Quimby's this Friday. Read Kara Luger's preview and interview with Madison, Wisconsin's Little Friends of Printmaking over in the Book Club.

Book Club: Unabridged Bookstore

A good independent bookstore is difficult to find, especially when you're trying to shave some bucks off your literary expenditure sheet. This week the GB Book Club page introduces you to a nice little store, settled right in the middle of Lakeview, that offers not only the latest publications, but also a good number of discounted reads. Click on over the Book Club to learn more about Unabridged.

This Godless Communism

It's 1961 and the communists have overthrown the government of the United States of America. Prepare yourself for the U.S.S.A.! What is the communists' first step? Move the government to Merchandise Mart! As J. Edgar Hoover says, read this comic now in order to "help us recognize and detect communists as they attempt to infiltrate the various segments of our society."

Review of New Crime Novel

This week the Gapers Block Book Club has a review of Big City, Bad Blood, the debut novel by local writer Sean Chercover. The title may say "bad," but this fast-paced crime drama is anything but.

Indie Bookstores in Chi-Town

New City Chicago's Indie Bookstore Guide is a fantastic reminder that there are still quite a few great local independent bookstores spread all across Chicago.

"Citizen Marketers" Reader-Generated Book Tour

Chicago-based authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba are embarking on a tour in support of their new book, "Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message", a follow-up to the influential 2002 offering, "Creating Customer Evangelists". It's also TypePad's Book of the Month for January. In classic eat-your-own-dog-food fashion, the tour was planned by their readers.

Book Club: Tales from the Dim Unknown

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of good science fiction literary magazines? Not a whole lot, right? Well, all you sci-fi fans get ready because a new local venture aims to change that with their annual publication, Tales from the Dim Unknown. Get a taste of the latest local literary endeavor over at the Book Club page, where I give it my two thumbs up.

Book Club: All This Heavenly Glory

It's a new year and a new read. This month the GB Book Club picks up Elizabeth Crane's All This Heavenly Glory, a fictional memoir-type piece following an inspired Charlotte Anne Byers through several decades of her life. To find out more, head to the Book Club page to read our introduction. Hope to see you at the meeting in February.

Book Club: Holiday Book Bash

What happens when you get together a bunch of authors, their books, a silent auction and a dinner buffet? Judging by the Holiday Book Bash 2006, not a whole lot. This week's Book Club feature offers some suggestions to better this ho-hum literary event, made even more disappointing by its ample ticket price. (Number one suggestion? Nix the Roeper invite.)

Experience Quimby's from Your Computer

I don't know how many times I've been to the Quimby's site, but I'd never noticed the "live at quimby's" section until this morning. It has audio recordings from almost two-dozen events, although the one I really wanted to hear (Al Burian) is broken.

What Was Your Favorite Book of 2006?

At the Gapers Block Book Club, we want to know, "What was your favorite book that you read this year?" Maybe you rediscovered an old classic, were introduced to a great new writer, or read the book you think should have won that fancy literary award. Whatever it was, tell us about your favorite book read in 2006. Just tell us the title, the author and why you liked it in 150 words or less, and send it to bookclub[at] before December 25. Responses will be published in our December 27 book club feature.

Book Club: 2006 Fiction Review

2006 has been a properous year for fiction. With contributions from heavyweights like Ray Bradbury and George Saunders, newcomers like Todd Dills, and indies like Joe Meno and Sara Gruen, the city is certain to have produced something for everyone. To touch just the tip of Chicago's newest fiction, visit the GB Book Club page for the second half of our annual year-in-review.

YoChicago's Pilsen Week

YoChicago is dedicating much of this week's coverage to Pilsen, with reviews, real estate coverage, and much more. Their YouTube Pilsen playlist is especially worth checking out.

Beyond Education Sound Bites

If you'd like to know more about the Chicago Public Schools than what you can discern from short, mass media pieces, check out Catalyst Chicago, the local outpost of the urban education magazine. Be certain to visit the guide to CPS and research sections, which provide original content and links to research institutions.

2006 Chicago Nonfiction in Review

On the Gapers Block Book Club blog we are beginning our second annual year-end review of books published about Chicago or by local writers. This week's feature lists notable nonfiction titles published in 2006, including books by Barack Obama, Rick Kogan, Roger Ebert and many more. Then check back next week for our Chicago fiction round-up.

Book Club: Reading Under the Influence

If you think drinking goes well with writing, just imagine how beautifuly it goes with reading. Get out your drink of choice, pour yourself a shot and prepare to get interactive with your reading. This week's Book Club feature reviews RUI: Reading Under the Influence, a monthly reading series that caters not just to serious drinkers, but serious readers, too.

Listen To The Wild Life of Chicago May

A great counterpoint to the well-known Devil In The White City is the story of Chicago May, a prolific thief who robbed men worldwide but earned her name here in Chicago. The wonderful Wisconsin radio program "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" interviews the author of a new partially-fictional account of her life.

They Like Him. They Really Like Him.

As a barometer of his popularity, Barack Obama could do worse than refer to his book sales. The senator's The Audacity of Hope, currently ranked 5th among books on Amazon and set to be no. 1 on the Times non-fiction list Sunday, has become nothing short of a best-seller. In less than a month, it has sold 182,000 copies and is in its seventh printing. By way of comparison, Trent Lott's latest has moved a mere 11,000 units since its publication in August 2005; Jesse Helms has fared even worse at 3,000.

Book Club: Featherproof Light Reading Series

Featherproof Books is more than a publisher of full-length novels -- they also feature individual short stories for free download. To learn more about their Light Reading Series, head on over to this week's Book Club feature.

The Underground Economy ... In Person!

If you enjoyed Sudhir Venkatesh's article in the Boston Globe, you may want to check out his talk on Thursday. Details in Slowdown.

Kevin GuilfoiLets Play a Game

Kevin Guilfoile (this month's Book Club author) is running an interesting name game with some great prizes over at The Outfit blog.

Books That Will Haunt You

This week on the Gapers Block Book Club blog, we are celebrating Halloween by sharing a selection of books that are guaranteed to tingle your spines and chill your bones. Find out all the grisly details about the Chicago's most haunted places and well-known ghosts.

Dag! Seriously, dag!

For the Lynda Barry fans out there: a chance to take a two-day writing course taught by Ms. Barry herself! Hurry up and decide soon; there's only 6 seats left in this class.

Book Club: Cast of Shadows Discussion Questions

The discussion questions for Cast of Shadows are now up on the Book Club page. Use our new comments section to post your thoughts and opinions before our November 13 meeting, especially if you can't make it to the meeting. We can't wait to see what you have to say.

Book Cellar, Hideout or Library?

Tonight there are several literary events worth your while, but unfortunately they're at the same time. The Blackstone Branch Library is holding their monthly Voices from Home series, while the Harold Washington Library welcomes the famed E.L. Doctorow. The Book Cellar will be home to Joe Meno, Todd Dills and Steve Asma; meanwhile the Hideout will celebrate the Best American Comics release with series editor and local writer Anne Elizabeth Moore and guest editor Harvey Pekar. What's a book lover to do? Look to Slowdown to get all the info and make your decision.

Book Club: Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle

Every year the Newberry Library holds a colloquium and this year members of the Baker Street Irregulars came together to discuss one of literature's most eminent detectives: Sherlock Holmes. This week's Book Club feature takes a look at this bit of Doyleana and the ardent fans both behind the podium and in the audience.

Get Your Spook On

This Halloween season has plenty to offer the ghoul lurking inside of you. Unusual offerings include KFAR's Spookagogue Synagogue, the Apollo Theater's Haunting History, the Six Corners Monster Film Festival, and Ursula Bielski's Creepy Chicago Hauntings. Check slowdown for additional options.

Unabridged Online

Lakeview's favorite indie bookshop, Unabridged Bookstore at 3251 N. Broadway, is partying like it's 1999, and has gone live with its first store website. Woo! Check out new arrivals, sale books and much more. [via]

Afrocentric Bookstore Still Going Strong

The Chicago Defender has a nice profile of the Afrocentric Bookstore. First "opened 16 years ago at the back of a beauty supply store" on South Wabash, the independent bookstore is now located on South King Drive near 47th Street in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. As the Defender writes, "Afrocentric Bookstore has all the ingredients to warrant second and third helpings: friendly and knowledgeable staff, a wide selection of books and a desire to help you find what you came looking for."

Good Things To Eat

Even though I rarely follow them, I love reading recipes. And reading old recipe books just makes me giddy with the occasional "ew!" thrown in. So the dramatic intro aside, Rufus Estes wrote some interesting cooking points in 1911 when he published Good Things to Eat. And as a chef on the Pullman car that carried Princess Eulalie of Spain during the World's Fair, I think he's got the credits needed to back up a cookbook. But the Sardine Rarebit recipe brings back Snappy Mackerel Pudding nightmares.

Missed Tapes

Jhumpa Lahiri's recent talk at the Chicago Public Library drew over 1,000 people, but only 700 were granted admission due to space constraints. If you missed the event you can listen and/or download it at WBEZ's Amplified page, where audio files of many of the CPL's author events are posted. Stay tuned for this Friday's David Mamet event, which is sure to draw a similarly large crowd.

Bookslut double-date

Fans of the Bookslut reading series will definitely want to make an effort to catch tonight's show; there will be no readings in November and December. As a consolation prize, the site will also guest host Jordan Davis' Million Poems Show tomorrow night; details for tonight and tomorrow's events in Slowdown.

Book Club: Cast of Shadows

This month's Book Club selection is Cast of Shadows, the much lauded debut novel from Kevin Guilfoile. You can read the introduction here and then join us at the Book Cellar on November 13, at 7:30pm, when the author himself will sit down to discuss his work. New members are always welcome!

Falling for Autumn

Want to get away and enjoy autumn in the Midwest? The Gapers Block Book Club looks at four books this week that might help. Whether you have an afternoon, a day or want to plan a trip for the whole weekend, these books will give you plenty of ideas for where to go and tips for how to get there.

The Chicago Manual of Style is Now Online

We (mostly) follow AP style here at GB, but it's nice to know it's there when we need it. Alas, like many good things, it's not free.

More lit in Andersonville tonight

If a Bitchfest isn't your cup of tea, how about Bookslut? Just a couple blocks south of the Bitch celebration will be the monthly Bookslut reading event at Hopleaf. Sadly, both events happen at the same time, so you can't go to both, but if you want to see Ned Vizzini (It's Kind of A Funny Story), Brian Evenson (The Open Curtain) or Cristina Henriquez (Come Together, Fall Apart), you know where you gotta be. See Slowdown for details.

Book Club: Interpreter of Maladies

Sure, Mayor Daley says you should read it, but are you still hesistant to pick it up? Perhaps today's Book Club feature can provide some motivation as we review Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, the 11th tome chosen to be a part of One Book, One Chicago. Of course, you don't have to take our word for it.

A Double Dose of Pollitt

Nation columnist Katha Pollitt is in town this week, riffing on feminism and her latest collection of essays, Virginity or Death!, and you've got two chances to hear her: tonight in Logan Square at the offices of In These Times (details in Slowdown) or tomorrow in Andersonville at Women & Children First (details at the store's site).

A Review of Hudson Lake

This week in the Book Club, we have a review of Hudson Lake, the third novel by local author Laura Mazzuca Toops. Hudson Lake takes the reader back to the summer of 1926 and shows the ways the lives of the characters at a rural Indiana resort are changed forever. Read the full review on the Book Club blog.

Book Club: The House on Mango Street

The GB Book Club's October selection is Sandra Cisneros's acclaimed novel The House on Mango Street. You can read the introduction on the Book Club page now and join us on Monday, October 9 at the Book Cellar to participate in the discussion.

Hang out with Rusty Brown

For the Chris Ware fans in the audience: an eBay auction to get your likeness in a Chris Ware comic sometime in the next two years. Chris will also send you a signed copy of the strip, but only if the winner "doesn't get mad or otherwise grow to despise me if their likeness is construed as satirical, incorrect, unflattering or in any way unliterary."

A day with Lemony Snicket

If you are interested in Merge stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other post. If, on the other hand, you are a fan of Lemony Snicket's series of books detailing the misadventures of three very unfortunate children, and would like information on Mr. Snicket's forthcoming appearance in the Chicago suburbs (accompanied by a Mr. Stephin Merritt), then please read on.

Lemony Snicket will be embarking on a book tour this October and November, in order to warn people not to read his latest book titled The End, the awful conclusion to his series of books about the Baudelaire children. He will be apprearing at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove on Saturday, November 4 in a several-hours-long event featuring readings, a screening of the Series of Unfortunate Events feature film, music performed by Mr. Snicket and Mr. Merritt, and a book signing (a copy of The End is included in the ticket price). The tickets for this mid-morning and early afternoon of unfortunate events are only $20, and can only be purchased, starting today, from one of the two Anderson's Bookshop locations, in Downers Grove and Naperville. It is my sad duty to record this event, but there is nothing stopping you from skipping this show and attending something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

Riding the Rails

When I think of trains, I think of the El, Metra, and Amtrak. But those aren't the only train-lines in town. Freight lines aren't commonly thought of for commuting travel and hoboes are something that kids might dress up like for Halloween, but local writer Stephanie Zinger is trying to change that with her website and upcoming book called Halfway to Hobo. Got a story about hopping lines, avoiding rail goons, or surviving a boxcar scare? She'd love to hear them.

Reconstruction Room:Remix and Release

The Reconstruction Room, the bi-weekly reading series at the Black Rock, celebrates the release of its first CD, rec poetica, tonight with a reading of "Rec Room remixes" curated by Dave Snyder. The (free) show starts at 8pm, the CD is $7 and the Black Rock is on Damen just north of Addison.

Book Club: Sons of the Rapture

Welcome to the Book Club's new weekly feature, where we'll offer more than just introductions to our latest selections. Today we present a review of Todd Dills's debut novel, Sons of the Rapture. Check back every Wednesday for something new in the Chicago literary scene.

Chicago: Present at the Creation

NPR's Present at the Creation provides unique insight to some Chicago-related icons. Our fair city pops up in some obvious place like Animal House, A Raisin in the Sun , and Nighthawks, but it's also there for Cracker Jacks!

What you should read next

The new One Book, One Chicago pick: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. You can find copies of the book at all Chicago Public Library branches.

On a Personal Note

Former head of the Chicago Reader's personals department, Michael Beaumier, has published a memoir -- I Know You're out There: Private Longings, Public Humiliations, and Other Tales from the Personals. Yes, in the days of yore -- not so long ago, before the paradox called online dating came about, souls relied on the personal ads to find their match. No e-mail, photos or IM -- just 25 words or less. Sounds poetic, doesn't it?


You've been writing that article about wine and trust and deception for a few weeks now, but it's missing that certain something. Could it be a quote from a local expert?

Heat Wave Author Stays Hot

After he published Heat Wave in 2002, sociologist Eric Klinenberg became a lot of people's go-to guy on the subject (the GB Book Club read the book last year). So much so that he was called to give testimony to the California State Senate about prevention of heat-related disaster earlier this month. Although he'd like to speak to the Chicago City Council, given his critique of the local response to the heat wave of 1995, Klinenberg says, "I doubt Mayor Daley's going to have me over for tea any time soon." [via]

Upcoming Book Club Picks

Thanks to suggestions from mailing list subscribers and other book club members, the Gapers Block Book Club has just revealed the updated list of books the club will be reading through March 2007. Vist the book club blog for the complete list, which includes selections from Sandra Cisneros, Mike Royko, Kevin Guilfoile and Elizabeth Crane. Plus, don't forget the August book club meeting is this Monday, August 14. We will be discussing Coffee WIll Make You Black by April Sinclair. See Slowdown for details.

Calling All Booklovers

It's that time of the year again — time to run, not walk, to the Newberry Library Book Fair. The fair has thousands and thousands of books, organized by category, and spread over the entire main floor. Most of the books are only $2 or less — including hardcover books in near mint condition! Admission to the book fair is free, and it runs today from noon to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. Also, on Sunday all the remaining books are half-price. Visit the Newberry website for more information. [via the Book Club]

Lifson vs. Epstein

Edward Lifson interviews author and Northwestern professor Joseph Epstein about his new book, Friendship, on Hello Beautiful Sunday morning at 10am on WBEZ. Apparently Epstein is a blast to talk to, doing accents and telling funny stories. Worth tuning in.

"'s your favorite author calling."

This week's Crain's applauds the Book Cellar for finding a new way to bring authors to their readers - by using the phone and internet. Two such events have been held, one with Ray Bradbury and one with Susan Vreeland, and there are hopes for more meetings like it. Having listened in on Bradbury's conference call I can say they've definitely got something good going on here.

826CHI Club

We all know how great and fun a good book club can be, so it's exciting that 826CHI has started their own. Called "Globiblio," their club focuses on reading authors from all over the world. The meetings will be on the first Tuesday of the month and participants are encouraged to BYOB and BYODIBTCWETMIYSD (Bring Your Own Dish Inspired by the Country We Explored that Month If You So Desire). Upcoming reads include JM Coetzee of South Africa, Michael Crummey of Canada and Jaroslav Haske of Czechoslovakia. Room is limited, so sign up if you're interested by emailing info[at]826chi[dot]org. is Coming

As it celebrates its 100th year of publication, the Chicago Manual of Style will also celebrate a new birth, this one of the digital variety. Scheduled for release in September, the Chicago Manual of Style Online will feature a fully searchable version of the 15th edition along with added tools for editors, writers and publishers. The only drawback is that it'll cost you $25 for one year of use, but if you register as a member you'll be notified of the release and be offered a free 30-day trial. It could really be worth it.

Don't Mess with The Outfit

New blog alert! Local writers Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Hellmann, Sara Paretsky and Marcus Sakey have teamed up to form The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers. This new group blog launches this week and promises to feature stories by these award-winning authors about the city, the "highs and lows of writing for a living" and "crime and justice and revenge." I can't wait.

Just Don't Stick 'Em in Your Bike Spokes

For all of you folk fanatics and alt country fans, new at Quimby's this week is Pioneers of Country Music, a set of 40 trading cards illustrated by R. Crumb. Brief bios on the back of each card give the histories of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers, Uncle Dan Macon and His Fruit-Jar Drinkers, Al Hopkins and his Buckle Busters and other whimsically named bands. Two earlier series, Early Jazz Greats and Heroes of the Blues, also feature art by R. Crumb.

Not another lousy podcast

At last night's kick-off of the Neo-Futurists' film fest, they mentioned that former Neo and solo performer David Kodeski is currently working on an online project related to his stage play (and radio story) "Another Lousy Day", the story of a single working woman living on the South Side in the 1960s told through her diaries. Mr. Kodeski is recording female voices reading entries of the diaries that inspired his show and posting the sound files on his True Life Tales Website in podcast form. The project, which has been going on since January, is expected to total 730 audio files, one for each entry in the diaries. If you are interested in recording one of the entries, you may contact Mr. Kodeski at david [at] truelifetales [dot] com.

While You're in Hyde Park...

Since you're heading to the Hyde Park Art Center to check out all of their cool exhibits, why not make a day of it? After taking in Africa Speaks, an exhibit of African art and artifacts at the DuSable Museum, cross the quads and grab a latte at the Smart Museum's sleek cafe. If you like contemporary art, a side trip to the Renaissance Society might be nice. Otherwise, a stop at 57th Street Books for some leisurely browsing, and lunch at neighboring Medici, will refresh you in between museum visits.

Revue in Review

Last week Illinois-native Jami Attenberg put on a great show at the Hideout with fellow local authors Hana Schank, Emily Flake, Wendy McClure and Claire Zulkey. Over at her journal, Jami recounts the show, complete with pictures of the lovely ladies, and later gives a nice little shout-out to the Book Cellar.

Regenstein Re-sell

Ever wanted to have an academic library of your own? This is your chance to start cheap as the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library sells hundreds of their old volumes for mere bucks a piece. From history to political science to South Asian studies and god knows what else, the sale runs through the entire summer so you'll have plenty of chances to pick up another copy of Marx. (The U of C-inclined can never have too much Marx.) Monday-Friday, 9am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-4:45pm.

Drinking and Reading

Alpana Singh, master sommelier and host of "Check Please!," emcees an unusual event at the Heartland Cafe, 7000 N. Glenwood, tomorrow night: Wine and Words: a Benefit for 826CHI. Listen to three authors -- Charles Blackstone, Gina Frangello and Cris Mazza -- read from their latest books while you enjoy South American artisinal wines chosen by Singh. Starting at 7pm, all for a suggested donation of $20! You'll probably want to make a reservation: 773-465-8005.

Book Club Meeting Tonight

The 14th meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club takes place tonight at The Book Cellar bookshop in Lincoln Square, where we will be talking about Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. See Slowdown for details!

Saul Bellow Returns to UofC

Recent Gapers Block Book Club author, Saul Bellow, died last year, and many wondered if his notebooks and manuscripts would be scattered to the winds. Fortunately for everyone, they'll have a safe home, all in one place -- the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago. It's good to see him back.

Load Up on Books One Last Time

Reader Greg writes, "After 48 years, Skokie's annual Brandeis Book Sale is pulling up its tent stakes. The organizers say there are few new volunteers to replace the current graying crop. The final sale kicks off Saturday in the Old Orchard parking lot (northwest corner). Opening night is $5, where you can jostle with buyers who've had chairs holding their places in line for a week. Admission is free the rest of the week, including the final Bargain Weekend, when everything's 50 cents."

Reading in the Field

Planning your vacation yet? You might want to keep an eye on Coudal Partners' Field Tested Books feature. Slowly doled out over the next few days will be dozens of book reviews by writers, designers, bloggers and more from Chicago and beyond. You might even want to purchase the PDF book (or the commemorative poster) to help guide your summer reading list.

Next GB Book Club Meeting Approaches

The June meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club is one week away. This month we are meeting to discuss Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. If you missed Veronica's review of the memoir, you can read it here. Then join us next Monday, June 12, for wine, food and discussion at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square at 4736-8 N. Lincoln Ave. The meeting will begin at 7:30pm, and new members are always welcome. And, it's not too late to post your own encyclopedia entry on the book club forum.

We're Happy for "Unhappy Hour"

GB friend Wendy McClure has a story coming out this Sunday in the New York Times Magazine. But since you're on the web right now and all, you can read it today right here.

Friends of GB at Printer's Row

In case you needed any more reasons to go, a few friends of the Gapers Block Book Club are also participating in this year's Printer's Row Book Fair. First, stop by and say 'hello' to the folks at The Book Cellar at Booth FF3 on Polk Street. Then visit everyone from the Poetry Center of Chicago at area 138 on the sidewalk along Dearborn Avenue. Finally, don't miss local publisher Lake Claremont Press at Booth CC1 because they have a full line-up of authors appearing at their tent during the book fair. For the complete schedule of writers stopping by the LCP booth, click "More" to keep reading.

Lake Claremont Press Author Signing/Q&A Schedule

Saturday, June 3

10-Noon: Ted Okuda, co-author of The Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television
10-Noon: Joseph Schwieterman, co-author of The Politics of Place: A History of Zoning in Chicago
Noon-2pm: Arnie Bernstein, author of Hollywood on Lake Michigan and The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections
Noon-2pm: Libby Hill, author of The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History 2-4pm: Kathie Bergquist, co-author of the forthcoming Lake Claremont Press book A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago
2-4pm: Robert McDonald, co-author of the forthcoming Lake Claremont Press book A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago 4-6pm: Charles Billington, author of Wrigley Field's Last World Series: The Wartime Chicago Cubs and the Pennant of 1945 4-6pm: Christopher Lynch, author of Chicago's Midway Airport

Sunday, June 4

10-Noon: Dana Caspall, co-author of The Politics of Place: A History of Zoning in Chicago
10-Noon: Carolyn Eastwood, author of Near West Side Stories: Struggles for Community in Chicago's Maxwell Street Neighborhood
Noon-2pm: Ursula Bielski, author of Chicago Haunts and Graveyards of Chicago
Noon-2pm: Dennis Foley, author of The Streets & San Man's Guide to Chicago Eats
2-4pm: Jack Mulqueen, co-author of The Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television

Also, Rick Kogan, author of the forthcoming Lake Claremont Press title A Chicago Tavern: a Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream will be stopping by the LCP booth to chat with visitors.

Book Club Authors at Printer's Row

Yes, in case you haven't heard it enough yet, the Printer's Row Book Fair takes place this weekend. And, if you've been participating in the Gapers Block Book Club this past year, you're in luck because many of the authors the book club has featured this past year will be appearing at the fair. So, if you've never met them or heard them speak before, this is your weekend. Keep reading after the break for the schedule of book club authors appearing at Printer's Row. Or, visit the official Printer's Row website for complete fair information.


Studs Terkel
Noon at the Harold Washington Library/Auditorium

Wendy McClure
4pm at the Heartland Stage


Carolyn Eastwood
10am at the Lake Claremont Press booth

Stuart Dybek
2pm at the Harold Washington Library/Multi-Purpose Room

Aleksandar Hemon
2pm at the Harold Washington Library/Multi-Purpose Room

Joe Meno
3:30pm at the University Center/River Room

Lots of Shadows Cast

Author Kevin Guilfoile is everywhere at the moment. He'll be reading with Rick Kogan and James McManus at the Printers Row Book Fair this Saturday at 2:30 in Grace Place, doing a book signing for the paperback edition of Cast of Shadows next Thursday, June 8, at the Webster Place Barnes & Noble, and he got mentioned in New City's Lit 50 list this week. And he contributed a playlist on the musicblog Large Hearted Boy.

Memo to B&N: Start Recycling

A writer for the student newspaper at DePaul University, The DePaulia, takes Barnes and Noble to task for the store's policy of discarding books that cannot be resold rather than recycling them. Barnes and Noble manages the DePaul University Bookstore.

Reader Exchange

Got a stack of books waiting to go to the used bookstore? Take'em to the Hideout tomorrow night instead, where from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, the Reader is holding its first-ever BookSwap. More details in Slowdown.

DIY City Guide

Moleskine freaks, take note: next year, you'll be able to create your own personal guide to Chicago with the new Departure city notebook. Photos of a prototype here, and more details at Moleskinerie. [via]

High school book list approved, despite controversy

This morning the Township High School District 214 board voted to approve a required readling list which includes nine books that one board member felt were inappropriate for the classroom. That means that many suburban Chicago high schoolers will soon be reading such titles as Beloved by Toni Morrison; Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut; and Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

Heads Up for Studs Fans

You probably know about the Printers Row Book Fair (June 3 to 4), a late spring festival that abounds with free author appearances. To see some of those authors (Studs Terkel and John Updike, for two), though, you need a ticket, albeit a free one. Take your pick here, while they last.


Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of GB Book Club 2005 pick The Jungle, Sunday's Tribune Magazine took a look at the rising popularity of meat, asked what Chicago is, now that it's no longer "hog butcher to the world," and offered a short history of muckraking.

More Deadlines for Writers

Here's another resource if you need a deadline to get creative: the Guild Complex is looking for fiction and nonfiction for its 2006 reading series and there are submissions deadlines every month except July and December. As an added incentive, the work selected for readings will be entered into a competition for a $500 prize, with winners to be announced next January. See the website for complete details and guidelines.

Chicago Writers: Prepare for D-Day

Are you feeling guilty about that half-finished manuscript in your bottom desk drawer? Do you work better when you have a deadline? Well, then you're in luck. The Chicago Writers Association is sponsoring an event for all Chicago area writers who need some encouragement--and a deadline--to meet their goals. Deadline Day, or D-Day, is August 12, 2006, when participants will meet for a special D-Day event in Evanston. Anyone may participate in this event. All you need to do to get started is visit the official Deadline Day blog and register by declaring your personal D-Day writing goal in the comments. Good luck!

The Gang's All Here

Somehow it escaped our calendar's attention, but The Literary Gangs of Chicago series at the MCA is throwing a blowout party tonight from 6pm to 8pm at Puck's Cafe and/or the Japanese Garden behind the museum. The theme is "Michigan!" for some reason -- not that there's anything wrong with that. And since today's free day, you can wander into the exhibits, too. Check here for details.

More of the Write Stuff

Reader Pete points out another option for aspiring writers in the summertime: the Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference which takes place in late July. If you're aching for more of a college-type setting for your creative learning, than this is a good way to fit in a slew of workshops, manuscript review, and author interaction (for a fee, of course) in one three-day weekend. Any other great writing workshops you'd like to tell us about? Write us at inbox{at}gapersblock{dot}com. [Thanks, Pete!]

The Write Stuff

School's almost out, but if you're looking to put some words down on paper, there are some serious summer writing classes to be had around town. There's a huge variety of workshops available at StoryStudio Chicago, regular meetings at The Writer's Loft, and even online classes open through UIC's Writers Series. Lots of the classes get started in the next two weeks, so sharpen those #2's and get writing already.

A Passion for Paper

Former Gapers Block staff member Alex Golub embraces digital resources. But, in a thoughtful essay on Inside Higher Ed, he writes about why he still prefers the tangibility of paper. He states, "Amazon may have a bintillion books for sale out in the ether of the ethernet, but there is no better place to take the pulse of academic publishing that a good used book store near a university. Bookstores mark the life cycle and disposition of the community where they are physically located...And of course just being in a good bookshop can be therapeutic." I couldn't agree more.

Transitions Saved--For Now

As previously mentioned on Gapers Block, Transitions Bookplace at 1000 W. North Avenue was in serious financial trouble, and the owners had put out a cry for help to save the 16-year-old business. The day before the owners were about close the store for good, an anonymous benefactor contacted the couple and gave them a check for $75,000, no strings attached, with promises of additional help. Publisher's Weekly has the full story.

Gapers Block Book Club May Meeting

Don't forget the 13th meeting of the Gapers Block Book Club is this Monday, May 8, at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Author Carolyn Eastwood will be joining us to talk about her book, Near West Side Stories: Struggles for Community in Chicago's Maxwell Street Neighborhood. If you missed the introduction to the book, you can read it here. And, you can find out more about the meeting in Slowdown. This event promises to be a great discussion about the past, present and future of the Halsted-Roosevelt neighborhood. New members are always welcome! I hope to see you there.

The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan

The latest book by local author and friend of GB Wendy McClure was released yesterday. The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan collects more than 100 of the 1970s Weight Watchers recipe cards Wendy first made famous online. And, Wendy notes that people have been having a little too much fun recreating the recipes and posting the results on Flickr.

Daniel Raeburn on Art and Death

Chicago author and artist Daniel Raeburn will appear next week at the MCA to discuss his book Chris Ware: Monographics; Acme and Imp fans will no doubt want to be there. More pressing, however, is getting your hands on the May 1 New Yorker, in which Raeburn published a heartbreaking work of staggering sadness: a tribute to his stillborn daughter, Irene. (The article didn't appear online, but it's worth seeking out -- provided there's tissue close at hand.)

Another Use for Your Library Card

...besides taking up room in your wallet: You can download audiobooks from the Chicago Public Library's website! Here's how! UPDATE: Unfortunately, it's Windows only. [via]

A Perfectly Pleasant Poetry Podcast

We're more than halfway through April, but have you celebrated National Poetry Month yet? If you're just too busy to sit down and read some great poetry, you can keep it between your ears with the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation's new set of poetry podcasts. This week's fresh 'casts include a Marilyn Nelson reading, an audio documentary on poet Linda Bierds, a translation of Stephane Mallarme's "The Tomb of Edgar Poe" read by the winner of this year's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Richard Wilbur and a reading of Robert Browning's "Fra Lippo Lippi" by Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti (you know, the guy from Sideways).

More on Saving Transitions

Publisher's Weekly has more on the call for help from the owners of Transitions Bookplace. Transitions is truly one of the great independent bookstores in Chicago, and it would be a huge loss to the community if they are forced to close their doors. Please consider helping out.

This Is the Land of Lincoln

It took this article in the Hartford Courant for me to find out about the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, apparently the center of Lincolniana. Check out the reproduction photographs.

One Book, One Chicago Event Alert

Although this season's One Book, One Chicago selection was announced in February, a cluster of related (and free!) events are scheduled this week, including a lecture by James Fallows, a film screening, and a reading of excerpts from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in English and Russian. Slowdown has the details.

Edible Books & Tea

It may be on April 1, but it's no fooling: Columbia College Center for Book & Paper Arts holds its 7th annual Edible Book Show and Tea this Saturday. Come check out books so good you could eat them up — and then do so! RSVP required; details in Slowdown. Bad at Sports has a preview in this week's podcast (mp3).

Chicago Writers Association

The Chicago Writers Association is a community of writers from around the Chicago area that meet and communicate to network, share resources and support each others' writing goals. Now they have a new website,, which was launched just days ago. Read an interview with Lake Claremont Press founder Sharon Woodhouse, or check out the growing list of members. Then, find out how to join. Membership is free, but active participation in the group is strongly encouraged.

Bookstore Blogging

Paper Mustache is on a mission: "to visit every single independent bookstore in the Chicago-land-area and tell you about it."

Bombs over Chicagoland

Let's say you didn't follow up on our mention of opportunities to help out with the Louder Than a Bomb festival. Not to can hear the finalists, all the same.

Mystery Book Lover Weekend

Mystery lovers are excited about this weekend's book sale at the Newberry Library, which always promises many treasures. If you can't wait that long, then don't forget about Centuries and Sleuths, a bookstore in Forest Park that specializes in mysteries. The setting is so much more noir than shopping mall, and that makes it an even better place to buy books.

Studs & Stuart

If you couldn't make it through I Sailed with Magellan in time for the GB Book Club discussion tonight, you can always fill your evening with a visit to the Harold Washington Library to hear Stuart Dybek speak with Studs Terkel. And if you've got nothing for tomorrow, Terkel will be at Borders Michigan Ave. for a discussion on spirituality with Cathleen Falsani. More on the Book Club authors over in Slowdown.

What Ever Happened at Haymarket?

The true story of the "Haymarket Affair" is one we'll probably never know, but Caleb Crain does a good job chronicling the apparent facts and fiction surrounding it in his review of the historical literature. Crain's impetus is James Green's Death in Haymarket, a book that bears the pithy but evocative subtitle "A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America."

Week of the Story

Columbia College's StoryWeek rolls around once again, wielding some pretty big names in tow. This year's week-long literary festival -- Fighting Words: Stories of Risk and Rebellion -- features such acts as Studs Terkel, Edward P. Jones and Audrey Niffenegger. Go here for a full schedule of events, starting March 11, but check back with Slowdown for highlights during the week.

Books to Your Corners!

The Tournament of Books is here and books, judges and brackets have all been set. Pitting 16 highly lauded books against each other, not in search of the best book of the year, but because they really, really like books, The Morning News will award the Rooster to the tome that's left standing at the end. Locals and past GB authors discussion panelists Kevin Guilfoile and Jessa Crispin act as commissioner and judge, respectively. The tournament officially starts on March 20, so if you want to keep up you have your reading cut out for you.

Giving the Devil Its Due

Did you see that great profile (PDF) of Devil's Due Publishing in the Reader?

Yet Another Google Map, Readers' Edition

There are dozens of libraries in Chicago. Need to know which is closest to you?

Looking for A Good Slam (poetry judge)

Here's an opportunity to be a judge and "no experience is needed. All you have to be interested in hearing the stories and poems of young people." The Young Chicago Authors organization is looking for around 180 people to be judges in its upcoming Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Festival at HotHouse and Columbia College Chicago, March 3-6. If you're interested, check out Slowdown, then call Kevin Coval at 773-278-2716.

One book, one Chicago, one Moscow

The spring 2006 title in the One Book, One Chicago program is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In an interesting addition to the city-wide book club program, Chicago will join with Moscow to create an international book club to discuss this title. (The book marks the first selection for One Book, One Moscow.)

Book Club Redux

Four years ago Women and Children First launched the Young Feminist Book Club. Tonight the book club members decided to expand the name to be the Inter-Generational Feminist Book Club. Feminists from the third wave are happy to share great books with second wavers and fourth-wavers. Oh and boys can totally be feminists, too, you know.

Unique Reading Series Launches

Join the Guild Complex and Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame tonight for the launch of PALABRA PURA, a bilingual reading series. Mike Puican, Guild board member, says, "With the third largest Latino population in the United States, we want to create ongoing dialogue between the sponsoring organizations, the artists involved, and the community at large."

Paul Martinez Pompa and Jorge Frisancho will feature tonight, and open mic slots will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.

Publisher by the Lake

Nice profile of friends of GB Lake Claremont Press in today's Sun-Times.

U of C Press Blog

The University of Chicago Press gets online with the debut of their "The Chicago Blog" (a less mundane title might help them in the long run though). In their words: "Publicity news from the University of Chicago Press including news tips, press releases, reviews, and intelligent commentary." But thus far, there seem to be a few reviews and some opinion on books as well — actual content! Should be worth keeping an eye on.

Name That Book

Writer Arnie Bernstein is penning a new history of film in Chicago as a follow-up to his Hollywood on Lake Michigan, which was published in 1998. To promote the new book, Bernstein and local publisher Lake Claremont Press are holding a contest to name the new book. Read the full rules and details on the publisher's weblog.

For Your Bookshelf Consideration

The current Atlantic Monthly runs a glowing review of the second edition of Jay Pridmore and George A. Larson's Chicago Architecture and Design, calling it "thoroughly revised and greatly expanded" and "by far the best introduction for the general reader." (For more Chicago-related non-fiction, check out GB librarian Alice Maggio's year in review.)

Lie No. Million And One?

As we all know by now, James Frey 'fessed up yesterday about stretching the truth in his "memoir." Among other fabrications, Oprah got him to admit that his supposed girlfriend did not hang herself as he'd written. Instead, he claimed, she slit her wrists. Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame did some Smoking Gun work of his own; unsurprisingly, Chicago mortality records beg to differ with Frey's amended account.

Pitchfork, pitching books.

Have you yearned to see a book-length Pitchfork album review? Well, you're now one step closer to realizing that dream. The excellent 33 1/3 book series , which features book-length ruminations on albums, just announced the titles that will be coming out in 2007 and 2008. Three P-fork writers (Managing Editor Scott Plagenhoef, Amanda Petrusich, and Drew Daniels, aka "that guy from Matmos") made the list.

Developing the Future Literary Gangs of Chicago

Poet Cassie Sparkman hosts the reading series, Literary Gangs of Chicago, every third Tuesday. During the daytime, Sparkman teaches weekly poetry classes through The Poetry Center of Chicago's Hands on Stanzas program to over 170 students at Christian Ebinger School in Edison Park. Last week, Sparkman installed her students' "Poetry + Photos Project" featuring student poems in response to images by photographers Krista Peel and Johnny Knight.

On April 5th, Sparkman will read at The Old Town School of Folk Music with fellow Hands on Stanzas poets in residence and selected CPS students.

A Few Too Many Pieces?

Thanks to Oprah's book club, it's been next to impossible to go out in recent months and not see James Frey's A Million Little Pieces just about everywhere. But what if the Smoking Gun is right and Ms. Winfrey's "been had"? Would that give her first dibs on the tell-all confession interview?

A Paragraph of Bellow

If you're like me, you're nowhere near finishing our January Book Club selection of The Adventures of Augie March (post your thoughts on the book here). Golden Rule Jones points us to an Augie-inspired comic in the Reader's special comics issue and reprints the entirety of the influential "paragraph" for all to read. In case, you know, you never make it that far in the book.

A Week in the Life

Via The Millions: Davy Rothbart of FOUND fame spent last week blogging for Powell's. He's working on the second book and keeping some late (and occasionally drunken) hours. Relive the hilarity. (For something a bit more serious, there's our interview with Rothbart from earlier this year.)

Bluebirds in the Machine, Live

Joe Meno, whose Hairstyles of the Damned kicked off the GB book club earlier this year, has a new book out: Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir. He talked about it with the Sun-Times in an interview published over the weekend, and he'll read from the short story collection Wednesday night at the Hideout. (As you'll see in Slowdown, Meno will be accompanied by Jay Ryan of the Bird Machine. Ryan's also celebrating the release of a book, the amazing 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels.)

Book Release Party at Empty Bottle

Brian Costello, an instructor at Columbia College Chicago, is celebrating the release of his debut novel, The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs, with an all-star party at the Empty Bottle tonight. Writers Elizabeth Crane and Jonathan Messinger are scheduled to do readings, and the event will also feature performances by Human Eye, The Mistreaters and The Krunchies. Admission is $7, and the party starts at 9pm. See the Empty Bottle website for more information. And, check out the short interview with Costello in this week's New City.

Richard Wright's Exile Years

In the current issue of Bookforum, Hazel Rowley has an in-depth essay about the years writer Richard Wright spent in Paris in the 1950s. She writes, "Wright died on alien soil, but it was not France that was his 'exile.' His exile, just as it was for many of his friends who remained in America, was disillusionment." Wright lived in Chicago between 1927 and 1937 and is best-known for his novel Native Son, which tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a young African American man struggling against the social conditions in Chicago in the 1930s.

The Illustrated Voltaire

Penguin Books is coming out with a new line of classic books with covers done by comic artists. Voltaire's Candide is the first to get the treatment, with a shiny new cover inked by our city's own Chris Ware. Maybe, just this one time, it's okay to judge a book by its cover. [via]

Studs Patrol

This week offers not one, but two chances to see local legend Studs Terkel promoting his latest book, And they All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey. Tonight you can catch him at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and on Thursday he'll be at the Book Cellar. And if you've never read Studs, January is the perfect time as the GB Book Club dives into Divison Street: America.

Oh Yes He Did!

If you missed Dennis Rodman's signing this afternoon at the Michigan Ave. Borders, Oh No They Didn't! has some pictures. Rodman's on the road supporting his new memoir (which makes what? three? four?), and authors appearing in Elvira drag is apparently the latest in book marketing. Or something.

On The Rebound?

Former Detroit Piston and Chicago Bulls bad boy Dennis Rodman will be at Borders on Michigan this Saturday (that's tomorrow, 830 N. Michigan Ave., 312-573-0564) to sign his new book, I Should Be Dead By Now. According to the press release, we should "not miss his one-of-a-kind entrance."

Cartoonist Beef?

The Austin Mayor alerted us to a somewhat bizarre comic strip by Ted Rall, simultaneously mocking and giving "apologies to" local favorite Chris Ware. Perhaps Rall's mad his book about beating back a bully hasn't done as well as Ware's works? UPDATE: Rall addresses the cartoon in his blog (although he still doesn't explain its biting tone).

Stripped Comic Books

GB alumnus Gordon McAlpin has posted the first portion of a three-part "pictorial adapatation of an actual event," a panel discussion between comic artists (graphic novelists?) Ivan Brunetti, Seth and Chris Ware. So it's a comic in progress on the process of drawing comics. Very meta.

The Girls' Guide to Reading and Writing

A friendly reminder that our own Anne Holub will be moderating a panel discussion on the Chick Lit phenomenon tonight at Women & Children First. She'll be joined by an academic and an author, a blogger and a bookseller. All the details are here; as for the the most important among them: the event is free and starts at 7:30pm.

Chicago by the Book, 2005 edition

As the winter holiday season gets in full, post-Thanksgiving swing, gift buying becomes an ever-pressing issue. While we can't do the shopping for you, if you're looking on behalf of a book lover (or are one yourself), just ask Alice. Our librarian has compiled two extensive lists of locally connnected work published this year; amongst the non-fiction, which ranges from memoir to photography, and the fiction, there's bound to be something for everyone.

Abundance Demands Storage

Aleksandar Hemon has a new, laugh-out-loud funny short story in the New Yorker entitled "Love and Obstacles." Required reading.

Neo-bohemian Rhapsody

Richard Lloyd's new book, "Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City," is a study of "neo-bohemian" neighborhoods and their place in the post-industrial economy, focused primarily on Wicker Park. Salon is running an excellent review of it that makes some interesting observations of its own, particularly about the myths of gentrification.

Yes, We're Obsessed with Maps

A new book looks at our city's history from a cartographic perspective. Chicago in Maps : 1612-2002 includes 74 "powerful and evocative documents [offering] an unprecedented avenue to the city's past — a fascinating collective portrait of the evolution of one of America's great towns." (Thanks, Atul)

Authors with Borders

I support my independents whole-heartedly, but here's the thing about Borders -- sometimes they have really good guests. Thursday night they host none other than President Jimmy Carter who will discuss his book, Our Endangered Values. And on Tuesday they'll set a place for Oprah favorite Nate Berkus, whose book Home Rules features gorgeous pictures of his gorgeous, um, interior decorating projects. (Did I mention the gorgeous?) Both at Borders Michigan Ave. and both can be found on Slowdown.

Reading, Writing and Rum

You know what goes great with reading? Drinking, of course! If you're interested in either (or both), you may want to head to Sheffield's tonight for RUI: Reading Under the Influence. Tonight's theme is banned books. If your weekend's looking a little slim, why not trek to the Hideout on Friday for the Dollar Store's Very Special Anniversary Show? You can come help the Dollar Store kids celebrate their first year of readings. Slowdown is all you need.

Chris Ware in the Guardian

Cartoonist extraordinaire and Oak Park resident Chris Ware is interviewed in the Guardian today. In it he talks about his work, his life and the graphic novel form.

Counting Heads: A Future Chicago

Lauded by Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing, Counting Heads is supposed to be an entirely swell science fiction novel. It arrives in bookstores sometime in November. What makes this important to Gapers Block readers, however, is the cover art. Is that a futuristic Chicago with the "antique" Hancock and Water Tower Place buildings in the background? I daresay it is.

That's a Lot of Bushy Tails

Forthcoming from Punk Planet Books, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels is a "greatest-hits collection of the last decade of Jay Ryan's groundbreaking work." The book will also feature an interview with Ryan and essays from notable names in the music, poster and design worlds, including Art Chantry. Sales don't start until November 15, but you can preorder it now from Punk Planet and The Bird Machine (details here). Any pre-orders from The Bird Machine come with a special screen printed book "belt" that you won't be able to get at your local Borders.

A Very Special Collection

The Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library is currently exhibiting "From Poetry to Verse: The Making of Modern Poetry." Go to check out the archives of Poetry, Chicago Review, Big Table, Verse, LVNG, and the papers of The Poetry Center of Chicago. At the exhibit's opening on September 19, John Barr, the current President of The Poetry Foundation, will speak on "The Importance of Being Wrong: American Poetry in the New Century." The University's mighty Poetics Program hosts a reading by poet Kenneth Fields the following day at 5:30 in the Special Collections Research Center.

Literary Gangs of Chicago

I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand contemporary art and, thus, rarely visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. However, since the announcement of the Literary Gangs of Chicago, that may have to change. Presented by Weep and, the series kicks off on Tuesday with a special Dollar Store and runs through May, featuring Funny Ha-Ha, 826CHI and more. Look to Slowdown for reminders of events as they approach.

Novelists, start your coffee pots.

It is time for the annual write-a-thon that is National Novel Writer's Month. This organization calls for all procrastinating writers to get out their laptops, lose all semblance of human niceties, and write an entire novel during the month of November. Founder Chris Baty believes that the first step to actually writing that book you always wanted to write, is actually writing. Don't figure out the story, just write. Edit later. The "winners" are those that get to the designated word count by the end of the month.

All The Women You Want

Get excited for the weekend of October 21 to 23. Nicole Hollander and Paula Gilovich present All the Women you Want: a weekend marathon of female performers, monologists, comedians, burlesquers and more will benefit BEYONDMEDIA EDUCATION. Weekend passes are available for $20. Gapers Block loves any event which involves Las Manos Gallery and Women and Children First Bookstore (the 2 co-sponsors of this weekend marathon).

Thursday Literary Roundup

Turns out Dave Eggers won't be able to make the 826CHI open house tonight, as planned. Not that that will dissuade me from attending, but if you find yourself looking to get your literary fill elsewhere, you can always head to Borders Lincoln Park for a chick lit book signing and panel discussion. And on Saturday, two GB favorites, Kevin Guilfoile and Joe Meno, will do their thing at Barnes and Noble while Chris Ware will make an appearance at Quimby's. All this -- and more! -- on Slowdown.

Davy Rothbart Surfing

Hot on the heels of his first published novel, FOUND magazine creator Davy Rothbart reads from The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas at the Neo-Futurarium. The reading is tonight, Wednesday, at 8pm, 5153 N. Ashland, and includes some music from Davy's brother, Peter. (Don't be surprised if you see some of your favorite GB-staffers there!) Slowdown likes FOUND, too.

Book Club Catch-Up

Audrey Niffenegger, Chicagoan and author of past GB Book Club selection The Time Traveler's Wife, gets the interview treatment in today's Guardian. (Don't forget: the group meets tonight to discuss Aleksandar Hemon's Nowhere Man.)

JFK: A Mob Hit?

Antoinette Giancana, daughter of famed Chicago ganster Sam (and source of a favorite recipe of mine), has a new book out in which she claims the mob assassinated President Kennedy. Uh, OK.

Read the Book, See the Author

The Gapers Block book club will be discussing Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon this coming Monday at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Then, Tuesday night, go see Hemon at a special reading event at The Poetry Center of Chicago. As always, Slowdown has all the details on both events.

Theres Still Hope

Those who tried to buy a ticket to see Salman Rushdie at the Humanities Festival on 13 November, but got turned away because the event was sold out, may still get lucky. The festival is making a block of upper balcony tickets available on the day of the lecture. For more information, click here.

Exploring What Makes "a Chicago Writer"

Much of author Stuart Dybek's work bears the mark of his local roots, and his latest collection of poems, Streets in Their Own Ink, includes such pieces as "Autobiographies" and "Windy City." The poet and short-story writer was tapped last year for the One Book, One Chicago program, and today the Morning News presents an extensive interview with him. Its author shares Dybek's local heritage, and the whole conversation made him a bit nostalgic: "It is clear how much Chicago means to Stuart Dybek I hadnt realized how much it meant to me."

Chicago Book Festival

This month hosts the annual Chicago Book Festival, which is to say, there are a whole lot of literary things happening over the next few weeks. From author readings to signings to panel dicussions, and even a Rock for Reading live musical event, it's an awesome time to be a booklover in Chicago. Individual events, as always, are posted in Slowdown.

Cooking up Poetry

On October 6, The Guild Complex will host the Iron Poet Competition (inspired of course by "Iron Chef"). Iron Poet [see Slowdown] will pit teams of poets against each other in a head-to-head creative combat to write poetry live in front of an audience. The secret ingredient here: words. A silent auction at the event will feature some fabulous items including a one hour poetry manuscript consultation with Reginald Gibbons. Wondering if you're an Iron Poet? This might tell you.

A Little Light Reading

Jonathan Messinger, proprietor of This Is Grand and The Dollar Store, has yet another project: Featherproof Books, an indie publishing house. They've got a line of PDF fold'em-yourself short stories called Light Reading that are the perfect size for the commute home.

Chicago's Not For Tourists

When I first moved to Chicago the Not For Tourists map and cityguide helped me to quickly understand the neighborhood divisions, where the El passed through them, what kind of amenities were contained within them, and the general vibe of each 'hood-- it was like Cliffs Notes for living in Chicago! Turns out the folks at NFT have been busy: last week they released their 2006 Chicago guide, relaunched their website, put up all of their maps as free PDF downloads, and are throwing a free launch party at the Darkroom. Don't say they never gave you anything.

nextbook Reading Series Returns to Chicago

Those of us who cant get enough of seeing in person (and listening to) the writers we admire really appreciated last years nextbook lineup, which offered free opportunities to hear the likes of Tony Kushner, David Rakoff, and Judy Budnitz at assorted venues around town. nextbook, a Jewish cultural organization, is presenting even more readings and talks this year, including programs with NPRs Susan Stamberg, novelist Jonathan Lethem, and poet Robert Pinsky. Visit the website for series schedules and tickets (which, sadly, are no longer free).

Lolita All Grown Up

Nabokov's Lolita turns 50 this year, and New City and Vintage Books are throwing a party Thursday night at the Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago. "Coming of Age: Lolita at 50" is a multimedia extravaganza, with talks from author Carol Anshaw and free speech activist Burt Joseph, music from DJs Tobias and Brock as well as a live set by My Where They, and a "reinterpreting Lolita" costume contest (extra points for not going with the schoolgirl cliché). The book itself will be available for purchase, as will $3 Goose Island beer. Doors open at 7:30pm, with a $3 cover after 10pm. Ironically, the event is 21 and over.

Internet and iPod Killed Off Reading

That's apparently what Jeffrey Eugenides claimed yesterday evening, and, boy, howdy, has he got some 'splainin' to do. Jessa Crispin attended last night's Picador Party at the Harold Washington library, and she left steamed. Here's hoping the readers at Crispin's Bookslut event later this month are less "disappointing."

Harry Potter Gets Stripped

Former GB-staffer Gordon McAlpin has posted his latest installment of his Stripped Books series, this time covering 57th Street Book's Harry Potter release party. Taking place in July for the sixth book's release, the comic features a number of the HP characters as played by bookstore employees and volunteers. Take a peek to find out how students did on the OWL exams and if they unearthed the secret recipe for butterbeer.

The Washington Story

If you're part of the GB Book Club, our lovely moderator Alice has already notified you of the release of Adam Langer's follow up to Crossing California. If not, you can check out the Trib's review of Washington Story, named for Mayor Harold Washington. An interview with Langer was published on Sunday. Both pieces show the book in a favorable light, so it's going to take some restraint for me to not run to the bookstore right now.

Danny's Reading Series 4th Anniversary

Bucktown's Danny's Tavern is more than the place where "The Muffin Lady" sold her goods. The Tavern is home to one of Chicago's favorite reading series. That reading series will celebrate a fourth anniversary on Wednesday, August 24 at 7:30 pm sharp. What better way to celebrate than a poetry reading? Matthias Regan and Eric Elshtain, the two Chicago poets who inaugurated the series, will read alongside Kerri Sonnenberg, Matt Miller and Lisa Janssen. Animators Joel Craig and John Beer haven't said a cake will be part of the celebration, but drinks are always a-plenty at Danny's.

Past readers have included Chicago poets such as Mark Strand, Amy England, Paul Hoover, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Srikanth (Chicu) Reddy. The August 24th reading will kick-off the series' fifth season, slated to feature Bin Ramke, Mark Yakich, Laura Sims and Christian Hawkey, among others.

All The Google Fit to Print

Google Print wants to make searching book content as easy as surfing for the latest photos of TomKat. And they're doing it the Google way: a keyword or phrase now returns book content in your search results. These searchable books come from two other Google projects: the Publisher Program and the Library Project. Google Print is still a beta project, so don't be sad that He's Just Not That Into You returns no snippets of dating advice. But search for Chicago and you'll find

books from The University of Chicago press and Arcadia Publishing (publisher of Chicago's Maxwell Street, The Chicago Outfit, and other Chicagophile favorites) Blogs and discussion lists alike are already teeming with discussion over Google's venture. What's Chicago, city of the book, thinking? Mary Case, library director at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said If we dig in our heels, well just look stupid. It's coming. We must use it.

The return of Writers on the Record

As its first season wrapped up earlier this year, host Victoria Lautman expressed concerns that 98.7WFMT's Writers on the Record would not find the funding necessary for a second. Fortunately, the monthly series, which brings major contemporary authors to the Lookingglass Theatre's space to be interviewed live on air, has been revived for another go, and in exceedingly fine form, at that. Bret Easton Ellis will appear in September, followed by Louise Erdrich and Frank McCourt in subsequent months. The tapings are free and followed by book signings; all you have to do is ring 312/832-6789 to reserve tickets.

Cook County's urban justice

We ran a summer reading poll in Fuel last month, and, although there were many responses, no one mentioned Courtroom 302. As fall approaches, maybe you're in the mood for something a bit weightier than typical beach fare, and this book is certainly that. Written by Steve Bogira of the Chicago Reader, it carries the subtitle "A Year Behind The Scenes In An American Criminal Courthouse"; Tom Robbins calls it a "compelling dissection," and he's not alone in his respect. Critical consensus suggests the book bears the mark of becoming a classic examination of the modern US justice system, and it's set right here in Cook County. (Read an excerpt.)

Law & Order: Chicago edition

If you're more interested in textual compilations than audio/visual ones, the Sun-Times brings news of something potentially up your alley: Chicago Noir, a mystery anthology edited by Neal Pollack and published by indie outfit Akashic. The book features several authors who participated in our roundtable last month, and some of those very folks will be celebrating its release with local appearances throughout September and October. Mark your calendars.

Support the Literary Buddy System

The new Powell's North reading series pairs an established writer with one or two scribes on the brink. Next up is poet/farmer Lisa Fishman, author of The Deep Heart's Core Is a Suitcase and Dear, Read. Paired with Fishman are poets Andrea Rexilius and Bobby Fiesler. At Powell's Bookstore, 2850 N. Lincoln on Thursday, August 18th, 7:00pm.

Eking out an existence

Jessa Crispin of Bookslut has an axe to grind with the publishing industry. In a commentary in trade mag The Book Standard, she "tells what's wrong with Chicago." In her view, it's the dearth of opportunities for folks to make a living in the "lit field" -- despite our city's passion for reading. (Be a part of the Chicago's reading community tonight at Funny Ha-Ha 4-Ever; details in Slowdown.)
[Update: Crispin wants to clarify About That Title.]

Future book club candidates

The Chicago Tribune announced its winners of the 2005 Chicago Tribune Heartland prizes this week, a prize given to one fiction and one nonfiction book that, in the Tribune's words, embody "the spirit of the nation's Heartland." This year's winners: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson (fiction); and "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle (nonfiction). Both authors will be honored at the Chicago Humanities Festival, which will be held in October and November. (Tip, of course, from Bookslut.)

The Other Type of Summer Reading

Here's a book review method we can all agree on: is a book potty-reading worthy and if so, how good (as judged by rolls of toilet paper)? Mundelein-based blogger Stacey reviews ChickLit from the throne.

Dandelion Love

Dandelion Wine is one of my most favorite reads ever, so expect to see me tonight at the Book Cellar as their in-store club discusses the book. Special guest Sam Weller will also be there to lend insight to the author's life and work. Can't make it tonight? Join us in September when we do the same. Slowdown likes Ray Bradbury, too.

Blogging Publisher

The folks at Lake Claremont Press, one of my favorite local publishers, have a fun, newish weblog appropriately titled Lake Claremont Press's Chicago. Check it out.

Graphically Facilitated

One more post about the Authors' Roundtable: In addition to making toys and jewelry at, Brandy Agerbeck is a graphic facilitator. She came to the roundtable on Monday and put her skills to work on the discussion, resulting in this amazing diagram. See more examples of her work here.

Roundtable Wrap-up

The Authors' Roundtable went very well last night; thanks to all who attended. We've got some photos up in our Flickr account, Chicagoist has some reflections and more photos, and Matt has yet more photos.

Book & Paper Arts Triennial

Columbia College's Center for Book & Paper Arts is holding their 4th International Book & Paper Arts Triennial. The exhibition features 71 works produced over the last three years, including everything from letterpress printed books, pulp painting and "altered books." If the cover gets you just as excited as what's inside, this might be for you. Running through August 27.

Authors Roundtable tonight!

Authors Roundtable tonight. Put on by us, moderated by Andrew. Sulzer Library in Lincoln Square. Come, listen, talk. (And tomorrow night, the Bookslut Reading Series!)

3-Day Novel Contest

Think NaNoWriMo is just too easy? Want a greater challenge? The 2005 3-Day Novel Contest is now accepting applications for their 72 hour September writing spree. Grand prize is publication. For a preview of the contest's results, head to Quimby's in August for a reading of last year's Chicago-based winners. Better start sharpening your pencils now.

Local Authors Talk

Wondering what's up with blogs becoming books? How the literary landscape is changing in the digital age? What Kevin Guilfoile sounds like? You might be interested in this Authors' Roundtable that GB is sponsoring. It's July 25 at Sulzer Library, 7-9pm. More details here.

Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference

This just sounds like an all around good time. Northwestern is sponsoring their first Summer Writers' Conference, a three day affair on July 22-24. The programs and readings include such names as Joe Meno, Audrey Niffenegger, Kevin Guilfoile and Elizabeth Crane. Although the conference isn't free, the readings and performances are, so it's worth checking out the program schedule to see your favorite local writers. The always lovely Slowdown has all the details.

Bookslut Reading Series

The Chicago-based literary website is launching a monthly reading series featuring local and national authors. These live events will take place at the Hopleaf bar located at 5148 N. Clark St., also a favorite Gapers Block staff hang-out. On July 26, the first reading is scheduled to include writers Shalom Auslander, Daphne Kalotay and Andrew Winston. So go and see them, sluts. The fun starts at 7:30pm.

A Gorier War

Hot on Spielberg's tail, New York Review of Books has released a new edition of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, complete with illustrations from Chicago native, and sometime School of the Art Institute student, Edward Gorey. The Tribune's cultural critic gives the pairing a positive, if somewhat geeky, review.

The Golden Lit 50

Earlier in the month, Newcity posted their annual list of the top 50 Chicago literati -- some expected (Studs Terkel), some new (Steven Levitt), and, surprisingly, Oprah. Golden Rule Jones did a little analysis of this year's selection, tracking who's in and who's out and who's moved up or down from the previous year. A glaring ommission noted in the comments: Kevin Guilfoile, whose debut Jones calls "definitely the kind of 'mover' the list purports to show."

Post-war, pre-suburb

Chicago in the Fifties is all about "remembering life in the Loop and the neighborhoods." Neal Samors and Michael Williams appeared on Eight Forty-Eight this morning, talking about their book, which prompted a strikingly personal response in the Sun-Times and gave the Trib reason to call the authors the "kings of Chicago nostalgia." Hey, look: online photo gallery!

Stockyards Gate a Literary Landmark

The Chicago Tribune has a story on the Union Stockyards Gate, which was declared a literary landmark in a ceremony yesterday. The gate, which is the last surviving reminder of Chicago's notorious stockyards, was so honored because of the role the area played in Upton Sinclair's classic book The Jungle. Some history of the novel is discussed in the article, but little of it will be new to Gapers Block Book Club members who read the novel a couple of months ago.

Book TV

If you're uber-geeky and you have cable it's possible that you've watched BookTV on CSPAN on occasion. If so, you'll be delighted to know that Women & Children First will be the location for the filming of Zsa Zsa Gershick as she reads from Secret Service: Untold Stories of Lesbians in the Military Thursday night at 6:30 pm. It's the first time BookTV has filmed at Women and Children First, so make Chicago look smart by showing up to the reading and having a packed house.

Another Book Fair

Maybe you're already going to the Printers Row Bookfair, but are you going to the Other Book Fair? Sponsored by Another Chicago Magazine and New City, it features a wide range of alt publishers as well as panel discussions and readings by local authors. It's at the Hothouse from 3pm to 8pm Sunday; details in Slowdown. And speaking of New City, this week's issue features the annual Lit 50 round-up of local literati.

Bellow, recollected

Long-time Chicago resident Saul Bellow died earlier this year. Had he lived, this would have been his 90th birthday. Bellow's son, Adam, remembers his father's presence, and his absence, in today's New York Times.

Pie-addle cysts and all

With Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim now in paperback, David Sedaris will be floating around Chicago's periphery this weekend, reading at Barnes & Noble in Skokie and Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. If you're looking for inspiration to make the trek (and the fact that the events are free isn't enough), New City has an interview as enticement.

Still challenging after all these years

After a storied career in local politics, Leon Despres is still going strong at age 97, having just released his memoir, Challenging the Daley Machine, published by Northwestern Univ. Press. He is profiled in the New York Times today, in a piece that highlights various seemingly incredible events from his life and also recounts his opinions on Daley the father and Daley the son. You can hear Despres read and speak for himself at various events in the future, including stops at U of C and the Printers Row Book Fair.

33 1/3 Books

Continuum Books has a new series of music related books called Thirty-Three and a Third. They're short books about the past 40 years most seminal albums, everything from The Beatles to The Velvet Underground. Chicago author J. Niimi writes on R.E.M.'s Murmur.

Pretty birds or Weight Watchers cards?

Two authors with Chicago connections are reading tonight at two different bookstores. Choice one: NPR host and former Chicago bureau chief Scott Simon, appearing at the Borders on Michigan Avenue at 7:00 to promote his new novel Pretty Birds. Choice two: Chicago blogger and GB contributor Wendy McClure, appearing at the Barnes & Noble at Webster Place at 7:30 to promote her book I'm Not The New Me. Choose wisely! (If you're fans of both, you should see Wendy tonight, and then catch Scott on Sunday, when he does another reading. See Slowdown.)

Scale Tales

Chicagoist has a brief interview with Erin Shea, another local blogger turned author (and also a Chicagoist contributor), about her book, Tales from the Scale. She'll be reading from it tomorrow night at 7pm at Transitions, 1000 W. North, and Friday at 12:30 at the downtown Borders.

Reg Book Sale

What day isn't a good day to snag some books? If you're in the area, head over to the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th St., to pick up some decently priced used books. The sale runs through May 13, 9:30am-4:30pm, with prices dropping each day. Lovely.

Caldecott Art

This week the Art Institute opened Fantasy, Facts, and Furry Friends, an exhibition of forty Caldecott Medal and Honor Award books from the past four years. Panels from the distinguished picture books are on display in the lower level where you can also purchase the books to take home. (Whatever you do, don't let the pigeon drive the bus!) The exhibition runs through October 30.

Electric Encyclopedia

This just in: the Chicago Historical Society is planning on releasing an electronic copy of the Encyclopedia of Chicago on May 11th. All the Daley quotes I can eat!

Infinitely cool

The annual 2005 Nebula Awards are hosted in Chicago this upcoming weekend. And for those of you who don't want to pony up the bucks to see your favorite SF authors at the Hotel Allegro, there are going to be two events that you'll probably want to attend; two massive multi-author book signings have been scheduled for the Borders bookstore on State Street. If the thought of meeting such luminaries as Anne McCaffrey, Ellen Datlow, Joe Haldeman, and Cory Doctorow makes you excited, see the listings in Slowdown for more details.

Nikki Giovanni @ U of C

Tonight, the renowned and award-winning poet and civil rights activist Nikki Giovanni will appear at the University of Chicago to deliver the annual George E. Kent lecture. Presented by U of C's Organization of Black Students, the lecture begins at 7pm, at International House, 1414 E. 59th St. A book signing follows at the university's Barnes & Noble; the lecture is free and open to the public.

Tour of Shadows

Kevin Guilfoile is writing a diary of sorts for The Morning News about his book tour in support of Cast of Shadows; the second installment came out yesterday.

R is for Ray

Mayor Daley has proclaimed today Ray Bradbury Day in Chicago, and to celebrate the Waukegan, IL writer's career there will be a program this evening at the Harold Washington Library featuring an interview with Sam Weller, author of the new biography The Bradbury Chronicles, as well as a Q&A session with Bradbury via telephone. See Slowdown for details.

The illustrated man

Ray Bradbury has been publishing his sci-fi and fantasy stories since the early 1940s, but only now has an official biography been written. The Bradbury Chronicles was written by Chicago journalist Sam Weller, and Bradbury himself gives the book a thumbs-up in this week's Newcity. Weller celebrates the publishing of the book with a release party and reading tonight at Sonotheque; see Slowdown for details.

Saul Bellow, 1915-2005

Acclaimed author Saul Bellow has passed away at the age of 89. Bellow was a longtime Chicago resident, remembered for his lengthy tenure at the University of Chicago. Read the obituaries at the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, New York Times and Boston Globe.

Kotlowitz at

Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City So Real, is the latest person to answer "Slightly Less Than Twenty Questions" at

Neil Gaiman at U of C

Today, tickets went on sale for Neil Gaiman's upcoming appearance at the University of Chicago in their Presidential Fellows in the Arts series. There will be a discussion and a book signing and those with tickets will be able to purchase the author's books as well as meet him. Tickets are $15 for general, $5 with valid U of C ID and can be obtained by phone (773-702-8080), email (concert-office[at], or at 5720 S. Woodlawn Ave. Check out Slowdown for more info. Get your tickets early because this promises to be an all out geek fest. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Blogging from the bookstore

I'm completely biased when it comes to Women & Children First. I love the bookstore, the location, their bookclubs, their activism, their buyers. But sometimes I don't get to visit as often as I'd like. Now, in a virtual kinda way, I can peek in on them even when I'm at work (not that I would *ahem* surf on company time). They now have a blog and it seems like everyone on staff can post on it.


Whether you're in Chicago and wondering when Wendy will start giving readings in the city, or you're an ersatz Chicagoan/fan of Wendy who's looking to see her in a bookstore near you, the author of I'm Not the New Me has posted preliminary dates for her upcoming book tour. Stay tuned for more details as they appear.

Cast of Shadows in Trib

This week the Trib published its review of Kevin Guilfoile's Cast of Shadows, calling it "the abortion debate turned on its head." Eh...that's part of it, but I wouldn't say that's the only focus of the novel. The review is a bit ADD, but it ends up giving the book a big, well deserved plus.

Read an Excerpt From Hairstyles

This week's Ask the Librarian introduces the first selection of the Gapers Block Book Club, Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno. But, if you want to sample the novel first, one of our readers reminds me you can download a 25-page excerpt of Hairstyles of the Damned, in .pdf format, from the Punk Planet Books website. Sweet. (Thanks, Pete!)

Tribune Books Don't Make Grade

I'm much more likely to hit, say, Bookslut for my literary news, but there are still a good number of people who turn to the book review section of the newspaper when looking for something to read. But how apt are those printed reviews? Golden Rule Jones does his own review of the Tribune's Books section and comes to the conclusion that while we have great literature, our city needs to do more to tout it.

Cast of Shadows gets thumbs up

Kevin Guilfoile's debut novel, Cast of Shadows, was reviewed in the New York Times on Sunday. The book gets a thumbs up, with the reviewer writing, "What's most appealing here, and most promising for Guilfoile's future as a novelist, is that he wields the bylaws of his chosen genre to undercut its central premise." Guilfoile appears at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court today to sign copies of Cast of Shadows.

Women's History in Books

Wow, I am a bad feminist. I didn't even know that March is Women's History Month. Good thing I have the Seminary Co-op Bookstore to keep me aprised of such things and to point me toward titles that'll beef up my knowledge of all things feminist. Throughout the month, the store's site will post lists of books related to the topic. The first is Women in Antiquity.

GB Book Club Launches

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Gapers Block Book Club, run by our resident librarian, Alice Maggio. Our first book is Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno, which will be discussed at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square on April 11. Read today's Ask the Librarian for more details.

Free Copies of The Ox-Bow Incident

If you are planning to read the latest One Book, One Chicago selection, the Chicago Tribune notes that four Starbucks locations will be giving away a limited number of free copies on Friday. The stores at 180 N. LaSalle St., 40 N. Clinton St., 210 W. North Ave. and 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. will all be participating, beginning at 8am.

The next book for you to read

The new "One Book, One Chicago" book title has been announced: The Ox-Bow Incident, by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Over the next few weeks there will be public readings, book club discussions and film screenings of the story; check the Chicago Public Library site for details.

Young Feminists

If you've considered attending the Young Feminist Bookclub at Women & Children First but haven't made it, I've got an incentive. The book choice for March 21st (7:30 pm to 9 pm) is Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future. The kicker is that instead of sitting in a circle and just talking about the book with other young feminists, you'll get to talk about this book and their new book Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism with the authors themselves. Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner will hang out and discuss feminsm and activism and other cool things. You get 10% off either of these two books if you mention you'll be at the book club, you have a month to read at least one of them, so what are you waiting for?


Tonight, Andrew Winston will make an appearance at 57th St. Books, 1301 E. 57th St., to read from his debut novel Looped. From the website: "Looped tells the separate stories of a diverse group of Chicagoans - black, brown, and white, gay, straight, and bi - as their lives unfold in diverging and (occasionally) converging ways over the course of the year 2000." The book is getting some good press, so I'd head out early to the 7pm event to get good seats.

Hemon in the New Yorker

Local auothor Aleksandar Hemon has a short story titled "The Conductor" in the new issue of the New Yorker. Hemon teaches writing in the Masters of Creative Writing program at Northwestern University and is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Nowhere Man, and a collection of short stories, The Question of Bruno.

Never A City So Real

I read Alex Kotlowitz's new book Never A City So Real. It struck me that most every story (except for one about the Cook County Courthouse) either was about food or had food as a central theme. But his simple writing style and deep connections throughout the city exposes corners of our burgh you wouldn't see. Well worth the short amount of time it takes to read, almost like reading "This American Life".

And I can say with certainty that he was spot on about GT's, the restaurant mentioned in the feature about Albany Park. I dine there from time to time since it's cheap and around the corner from my house, and it's four tiny booths are every bit as lively as he describes them.

The Trouble Boy

The Virtual Book Tour makes its rounds this week with Tom Dolby's The Trouble Boy as its focus. The tour, which consists of an author making stops at websites and blogs much like they would at bookstores except, you know, online, stopped on Tuesday at (No, not that Tom Dolby. This one.)

Zine reading doubles as unofficial GB get-together

Tomorrow night at MoJoe's Cafe Lounge in Roscoe Village, there's going to be a zine reading featuring many authors from the local zine community ... including GB's very own Andrew Huff! See the Slowdown entry for the full details. There are sure to be plenty of GB staffers in attendance, so don't forget to look for the cool kids wearing their GB T-shirts...

Bibliophilia in Review

If you've ever harbored the notion of becoming a book critic, Claire Zulkey at MBToolBox lets you know that it's not as difficult as you think. She talked to several literary reviewers, including Bookslut's Jessa Crispin, on breaking into the book reviewing business. Guess what their biggest piece of advice is? Read. A lot. Oh, and you might want to start a blog, too. (Hey, I did.)

It's that time of the month again:

The superhuge and superfantastic February edition of the Chicago-based Bookslut is up, and with it comes interviews with Dennis Cooper, Brian Evenson and Bill Knott; a profile of the poetry mag 32 Poems; a Valentine's Day-themed installment of Sharon Adarlo's "Judging a Book by Its Cover" a new, extra-long installment of "Stripped Books" on Stephen Mitchell's new version of the Gilgamesh epic (by me); lucid reviews; snarky columns; and much much more. Read it.

Blog to Book is the New Black

Yet another Chicago blogger has landed a book deal: Jennsylvania's memoir, Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self Centered Smartass, Or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office, will be published next spring by Penguin. A quick synopsis is available here. (Thanks to another blogger-author {blauthor?}, Wendy.)

Chicago's fiction of 2004

Golden Rule Jones has a month-by-month round up of 2004's Chicago-related fiction. His list shows that almost every month had a new book with a Chicago author, a Chicago setting, or both.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Don't worry if you missed Amy Krouse Rosenthal at the Hideout last night - there are plenty more chances to see her in the coming month as she reads from her book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Trust me, it's worth it. (And I totally want to find one of her books!)

Funny Ha-Ha II

Pulled over from Slowdown: Come hear some of Chicago's funniest writers tonight at the Hideout. The event is being hosted by Claire Zulkey and features readings from many friends of Gapers Block including Wendy McClure, Steve Delahoyde, Mark Bazer, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Nathan Rabin and many more. Check out the Hideout website for the complete lineup. The event starts at 8pm, donations will be accepted at the door.

Genius Grant Authors Not So Impressive

The Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants" don't pay off when it comes to literature, according to Crain's Chicago Business. A study of the 31 authors receiving the award since 1981 found that most --88 percent -- had hit their artistic peak well before they received the money. A handy PDF charts the authors and their output before and after the grant. (Wonder if Crain's will examine artists and musicians next?)

Nick Hornby in Newcity

Every bibliophile loves a good book about books, especially when it's written by one of your favorite authors. Nick Hornby recently compiled his reading related Believer columns into The Polysyllabic Spree, making all us book lovers and Hornby fans squeal in delight. Tom Lynch shares an e-mail conversation with the author at Newcity.

Find the Encyclopedia

Next Tuesday, 1/25, copies of the book The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life will be scattered throughout the city (as well as in New York and San Francisco) with notes from the author, Amy Krause Rosenthal. According to the book site, "the finder is encouraged to report back to this very spot and share with us when and where he found the book." A test run earlier this month yeilded some interesting results and a short video clip.


Jessa Crispin, editor of Bookslut, got a nice write-up in the Tribune today. "The best part is the free books and the worst part is the free books," she says.

Reading Resolutions

Still not sure where to focus your resolve this year? The Seminary Co-op Bookstore offers five places to start. From children's books to graphic novels, you're sure to find at least one resolution you'll be able to keep. (What? Read even more is a great resolution.)


Chicago blogger and friend of GB Wendy McClure's forthcoming book I'm Not the New Me, based partly on her web journal, has a brand new promo site of its own. And she got blurbed by Jennifer Weiner! The book arrives April 26.

Chicago poetry resources

Golden Rule Jones is still my favorite resource for upcoming poetry/ literary events and news; however, Letter eX: Chicago Poetry is also a good resource. The Poetry Events dropdown on the left top corner has a comprehensive list of ongoing weekly open mics, as well as special events. The site also has a Chicago Poetry Blog and a lot of useful links to resources, including a the Chicago poetry scene's Top 50.

See Barack Run

Barack Obama will be the next celebrity type to pen a children's book. Part of a $1.9 million, three book deal, the book will be co-authored by Obama's wife and two daughters and will feature a boy who grows up to be senator. This could be cute, but man - first Madonna and now Obama. What's next? Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel churn out pamphlets for the fifth grade? 

Another Way Home

Ronne's Hartfield's book Another Way Home receives two extolling reviews in the Tribune. Part personal memoir and part Chicago history, the book centers on Hartfield's mother and her life as a mixed race American living in the city.


Author and historian, and beloved Chicago personality, Studs Terkel, was recently profiled in the Guardian. Still recovering from his "wild, jazzy, tumble", a fall that was mere inches from breaking his neck, the indestructible Studs talks with Martin Kettle. They discuss his most recent book, Hope Dies Last, his upcoming work, and the current political climate, "We're at a moment of unashamenedness. I call it the evil of banality."

Illinois poets

The Illinois poet laureate site has audio and video of Illinois poets reading their work at a 2002 conference at Bradley University. It also has a Featured Illinois poet section; currently featured is Li-Young Lee, who recently read some of his amazing work at a Guild Complex event.

Add It to Your Wish List

Amazon now has a page set up for Wendy McClure's forthcoming book, I'm Not the New Me. Pre-order it now!

Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith in Stripped Books

The November edition of Bookslut is out and has a brand new "Stripped Books" on a store appearance by children's book creators Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith from a few weeks back. (Yeah, it's by me -- sorry about the blatant self-promotion.) The new edition also features interviews with Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jennifer Weiner, Amy Sohn and Arthur Phillips, as well as a new installment of Sharon Adarlo's "Judging a Book By Its Cover" feature and reviews galore.

A Hero from Chicago:

Vic Sage leads a double life. As a reporter, he prowls the stockyards in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, as a hero, he walks the streets; a faceless defender of justice known only as The Question. Meanwhile, things are getting ugly in Metropolis. Unable to manage on his own, Superman calls for help. The Question hops a train, bringing his brand of justice to that "other" city. Check it out at Chicago Comics.

Billy Corgan, Wandering Poet

Former Smashing Pumpkins star Billy Corgan is reading from his new book of poetry, Blinking with First, at Borders, 830 N. Michigan, tomorrow night at 7pm. The line starts forming at 5pm, though if you want to get close you should arrive at, say, 8am. Check Slowdown for more info. If you don't get in, don't worry: this description of his reading in Vancouver [via BookSlut] will fill you in on the likely scene.

World's biggest book: no, you can't borrow it

The West Chicago Public Library just received a copy of the book "Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across The Last Himalayan Kingdom". Measuring 5 feet by 7 feet, this is the world's largest book, and they're going to put it on display this Sunday. You can attend the opening reception (see the library's site for info) or, if you've got $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can even buy a copy of your own from, yes,

A Prickly Paradigm -- For Free

Prickly Paradigm Press, a pamphlet-publishing press distributed by the University of Chicago Press, has released much of its back catalog for PDF download under a Creative Commons license. Check out the list here.

Chi-town readings lowdown

As far as literary blogs go, Chicago has the widely-read Bookslut, but did you know about Golden Rule Jones? If you're interested in readings, check out the site's right frame, which contains a vast list linking to every upcoming poetry, fiction, and criticism reading in Chicago.

Civic Book Clubs

I've considered joining a book club in the past, but never really knew where to go to get started. Turns out that I should have at least considered the local library first: libraries across the city have book club discussions once a month. This month is dedicated to "One Book, One Chicago" -- a novel titled In The Time Of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

Stories On Stage Winners Announced

Chicago Public Radio has announced the winners of the 2004 Stories On Stage "Now Hear This" short story competition. J. Adams Oaks, Dana Wood and L.C. Fiore will see their pieces performed November 7 at the MCA. You can read one of Oaks's other works in The Tap.

Big poetry plans

When Chicago-based Poetry Magazine, the longest running poetry journal in the country, received a $100 million donation from Ruth Lilly two years ago, they seemed unsure of how to handle the windfall. However, at a kickoff banquet last night at the Gehry bandshell in Millennium Park, The Poetry Foundation displayed and announced some of they ways they will be using the money: to make poetry more mainstream. Besides awarding two five-figure cash prizes to lesser-known poets, they outlined plans for a national recitation contest and "the biggest and baddest Web site for poetry out there." Via Bookslut.

His New Touring Technique is Unstoppable

David Rees, creator of "My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable," is on tour to promote his second book, Get Your War On 2. He'll be at Columbia College next Thursday, Oct. 14. The event is free and takes place at 6pm in Hokin Hall, Room 109, 623 S. Wabash. Call 312/344-8181 for more info. (Thanks, Kyle!)

Eat Those Words

The Chicago Center for Book & Paper Arts at Columbia College has posted a gallery of creations from its 5th annual Edible Book show. My favorite: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Cheeseness. For more, check out the International Edible Book Festival.

Local Prof Gets Playboy Nod

The king of ladmags has recognized Dr. Rachel Shteir's upcoming book Grit, Glamour, and the Grind: A History of Striptease with three-and-a-half bunnies! Shteir is head of Dramaturgy at DePaul University. Look for her book in stores soon.

You're Such a Flirt

Unfortunately, you're not very good at it. Which is why you should head to FLIRT, 3449 N. Southport, this Thursday 7-9pm to see Jill Spiegel, author and self-proclaimed "flirtologist." She'll be giving a talk on flirting, and if you're lucky she'll also give you some one-on-one advice.

New One Book title announced

The new "One Book, One Chicago" title was announced today. It's the Julia Alvarez novel "In the Time of the Butterflies," the first selection by a Latina author chosen for the citywide reading program. Start looking for displays of the title at your local bookstore and/or your local library.

All Ware, All the Time

Jiminy! This Acme Novelty Archive v2.0 contains everything you could possibly want to know about local illustrated novelist Chris Ware, his art and products, and even fakes! And it's much"1.0" version! [via list.]

Fund a Book

Jason Pettus writes a lot of things, including travel books. He has a novel way of paying for the trips these books are based on: donate cash for the trip, and you also reserve a copy of the book. $5 gets you on a mailing list to receive trip updates, $10 gets you an electronic version of the book, and $20 gets you a hard copy. He has some interesting "corporate sponsorship" ideas for those who donate $50 or more. His next trip is to England and Ireland in October, and he's a little under half-way to his goal of $1000; care to contribute?

Forbidden Love: Scandal!

Australia is abuzz about Norma Khouri's best-selling book, Forbidden Love, and not in a good way. The tale of an "honor killing" in Jordan when a muslim father finds his daughter has fallen in love with a Christian was revealed to be a fraud and pulled from shelves; it seems Khouri lived in Chicago in the 1990s, not in Jordan as she claimed. Her ex-roommate tells the Sydney Morning Herald, "Norma left Chicago on the Labor Day weekend in [August] 1999. I had been her best friend for five years. We were inseparable."

Independent Bookstores in Illinois, the online portal to "alternatives in print & media," has an index to indie bookshops across the country. Check out their list of Illinois bookstores, most of which are located in and around Chicago. Although not comprehensive, you will find some old favorites here and maybe a few stores you didn't know about.

Dun at Danny's

Danny's Reading Series is mixing it up a bit tonight with a "Comedy/Monologue Night" instead of the standard poetry and short stories. Come see the improv stylings of Bare (Fuzzy Gerdes and Shaun Himmerick), the confusing words of Mike Olson and the bizarre characters of Liz Poirier. Fun! Excitement! Air conditioning! Starting at 7:30pm sharp. It's free, but you have to be 21 to get in. (Thanks, Jessa.)

Bookslut <20 Questions

Claire Zulkey interviews local book maven Jessa Crispin of Bookslut about Chicago's amazing poetry reading scene, blogging, favorite critics and the potential for a Bookslut Magazine in her most recent edition of Just Under Twenty Questions.

See Sedaris in Hawaii

Love David Sedaris? Love Hawaii or would like to go? Chicago Public Radio is combining the two together as the grand prize (125 in all) if you pledge by Aug 31. Support the airwaves!

Free Comic Book Day

July 3 is Free Comic Book Day at participating comic book shops across the country. Participating Chicago locations include Chicago Comics at 3244 N. Clark and Graham Crackers Comics at 69 E. Madison. Enter your zipcode at the Free Comic Book Day website to find the participating comic book store nearest you.

Cheap books!

Who likes books? I bet you do. This weekend, you're in luck in Lakeview, as you'll find a used book sale going on at the Second Unitarian Church at 656 W. Barry. 10:00 to 4:30 Saturday, Noon to 4:30 Sunday. Go find some bargains!

DIY Bloomsday

As you probably know if you looked at Google's header graphic today, today's the 100th anniversary of Leopold Bloom's ramble around Dublin, as chronicled in James Joyce's "Ulysses". Celebrate Bloomsday tonight at the Red Lion Pub (2446 N. Lincoln, across from the Biograph) with a "do-it-yourself Bloomsday reading" performed open-mike style in three-minute increments. The fun goes from 7:00 to 9:00 tonight, admission is $3, and it's 21+. So even if you can't completely follow Joyce's text, you can still drink.

New Native American Literary Collection at UIC

Intrigued by U of I's possible mascot change, you can read more about Native American history in the Chicago area, and beyond, at UIC's library. A new collection, possibly the largest in the world, of Native American literary works, audio recordings, and other materials, is now on display. The collection includes work by Potawatomi Chief Simon Pokagon, whose father, Leopold, sold what is now Chicago to the U.S. government for 3 cents an acre in 1833. It also includes work by contemporary Native American writers, such as Cherokee poet John Rollin Ridge, Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Martin Cruz Smith, and Gerald Vizenor.


Just in case there weren't enough book related events to keep you busy this weekend. The publishing industry's three day extravaganza, The Book Expo, is being held at Mccormick Place over the next few days. The event kicks off tonight with a keynote address from former President Bill Clinton. There will be more than 2,000 exhibitors, 500 authors and over 100 conference sessions. Some of the highlights include appearances by Art Speigelman, Amy Tan and David Sedaris. Unfortunately the event is open only to industry professionals. Call 1-800-840-5614 if you have any questions or need additional information.

Lit 50

NewCity Chicago announced its list of the top 50 movers-and-shakers in Chicago's vibrant literary scene. Included are newcomers like Audrey Niffenegger and mainstays like Studs Terkel, in addition to organizers of book fairs, readings, and more. Check out the complete Lit 50.

In the shadow of Hancock the lovers embraced...

Admit it: you love romance novels. There's a box of Harlequins in your closet, and you pick up a new Regency Romance every Wednesday in the lobby bookstore. Well, as long as you're reading that stuff, you might as well read local. The Windy City chapter of the Romance Writers of America provides a convenient list of local amateur and professional authors for you to look for.

The Chicago Quill

The Chicago Quill is an independent, nonpartisan magazine of politics, culture and the arts, run by students at the University of Chicago.

Lunch with Russert

Tim Russert, NBC news anchor (and moderator for many of the 2000 presidential debates) will be at the Borders Bookstore at 150 N. State at 12:30 today signing copies of his new book, Big Russ & Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life. Even if you're not interested in the book, it might be fun to go down and watch the political freaks argue in line.

David Sedaris at Barbara's in OP

David Sedaris is coming out with a new book and is coming to Barbara's in Oak Park to pimp it on June 4 and 5. (Early warning: he's also coming on Halloween to the Chicago Theatre.) See how small he really is and laugh and laugh and then laugh some more.

Self Publishing of the Drawn Kind

We're all familiar with the concept of self-publishing, right? Well, the folks at Apex Press WebComics are taking it to new heights. This diverse group of formed in 1998 and finally has a web presence. Their first book won't be out until September, but they have sketches of characters and scenes up now. They'll also be at Wizard World in August. Good luck!

Chicago's Zine Scene

The Chicago Tribune today takes a look at Chicago's zine scene. The article lists some of the best bookstores for locating zines and small-press magazines and reviews several of the city's best zines including WhiteWalls and Bridge Magazine.

How'd we miss this one?

Bruce Sterling, author (and blogger) of note, speaks at Barbara's Bookstore in Oak Park tonight at 7:30 PM.

Library Lookup

As commented in our Ask the Librarian column, our friend in yours, Ian Olsen-Clark has improved and created a bookmarklet (?) that will allow one to access the Chicago Public Library's system. It's amazingly nifty. Here's an endorsement and further explanation of what you can do with it.

Don't die before visiting Superdawg

The Sun-Times reports that the best-selling travel book "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" has a number of Chicago locations in its list, alongside such exotic destinations as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the North Pole. Among the Chicago locations mentioned in the book: the Art Institute, Charlie Trotter's, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park .... and, yes, Superdawg.

And how would you spend $100 million?

The New York Times today has a profile of the new president of the Poetry Foundation, John W. Barr, and his thoughts on managing the foundation's famously large gift from Ruth Lilly. 

Comix Revolution

The new issue of Bookslut is up and includes a profile of the Comix Revolution bookstore in Evanston.

Women and New Media Conference

The tenth annual Guild Complex Women Writers Conference this weekend focuses on women and new media, complete with workshops on blogging and "electronically enhanced storytelling." Friday night, see keynote speakers Larissa Lai, Alexis O'Hara and Krista Franklin perform their work at Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph St. Saturday features two sets of workshops followed by a campus tour of Illinois Institute of Technology, 35 W. 33rd St. Check the site or call 773-227-6117 for schedule and price information.

Barbara's on Wells is closing

This week's Newcity reports that the Barbara's Bookstore on Wells Street in Old Town is closing this week. The store has been experiencing flagging sales since the Borders on North and Halsted opened. The Barbara's chain has been part of Chicago's history for decades; in 1968, some of the Yippies (including Abbie Hoffman) hid out in the Wells Street store during the Democratic convention. If you live nearby (1350 N. Wells), stop in and pay your respects to another disappearing piece of Chicago history.

Blithe House Quarterly

Author Aldo Alvarez is currently residing in Chicago and is the executive editor and publisher of the Blithe House Quarterly, an online literary magazine of short fiction by gay, lesbian and bisexual authors. Started in 1997, the Quarterly just released their Spring Issue featuring stories by Patrick Roscoe, Trebor Healey and Dawn Paul to name a few. Definitely worth checking out.


AWP (the Association of Writers and Writing Programs) brings its annual writing conference to Chicago this year which means hordes (literally!) of writers young and old will be descending on Chicago starting Wednesday. Look for plenty of action in the Loop, where the four-day event gets going at the Palmer House Hilton (if you want to attend, check their website for registration details). But do not despair if you can't attend because there's going to be plenty of writer spillover into area bookstores, bars, clubs, and coffeehouses (psst...check out our Slowdown section) as writers from far and near get their word on through Saturday.

Irma, tell us

David Kodeski isn't the only local author who's turning found diaries into new literary work. This month, author and independent scholar Ellen FitzSimmons Steinberg publishes her new book Irma: A Chicago Woman's Story, 1871-1966. A look at Chicago life over a century ago, the book was pieced together from a number of diaries Steinberg stumbled across in a Chicago used bookstore. They told the story of Irma Rosenthal Frankenstein, a struggling author who was keeping notes and writing for a book which she eventually hoped to publish. While Irma's final project was not realized during her lifetime, Steinberg has fashioned a biography for her that documents a distinctive woman's life in turn-of-the-century Chicago.

Read This, Everybody

Finally, the Chicago Public Library's choice for the One Book, One Chicago program -- you know, where we all read the same book? -- is actually related to the city: The Coast of Chicago, by Stuart Dybek. (Actually, last year's A Raisin in the Sun was set here, too.) A list of activities here. [Thanks Jamie]

Start reading

The Chicago Public Library has named its new "One Book, One Chicago" selection: The Coast of Chicago, by Stuart Dybek. The sixth annual citywide book club will culminate during National Library Week, April 18-24, with a free public program by the author at the Harold Washington Library.

Terkel honored by book critics

Chicago author and historian Studs Terkel was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the National Book Critics Circle yesterday. Terkel is also to appear in a performance of the play "Trumbo" at Steppenwolf on March 29th, where he will also talk about his own experiences with the play's subject, Dalton Trumbo.

Essential Reading

WBEZ 848's List of Essential Reading about Chicago. Time to settle in.

Quimby's Anew

Well lookee here! Quimby's has a brand new website and an online store so you no longer have to be embarassed to walk out with your 3-foot pile of comics, your mini-shrine to McSweeney's or that pile of fetish and erotica books. A new notable section is Live at Quimby's, a selection of audio recordings of speakers and readers such as Al Burian, Chip Kidd and Amy Fusselman. The downside is that you have to use crappy Real Player (I'm not even going to link that!).

Bookslut: Craig Thompson

If you haven't heard of Craig Thompson or Blankets, his acclaimed graphic novel, then you should read the interview with him over at Bookslut.

City Boy: Is this our City?

A new book out by Jean Thompson, City Boy, uses Chicago as its setting. Not much really comes of this fact, aside from the mention of some street names and of Lake Michigan, but sometimes that's enough. Both and the Baltimore Sun recently reviewed this novel, each with a different take on the story. It's a story of two twenty-somethings trying to find their way in this city; sound familiar?

Too cold to shop

If you've said to yourself recently, "I'd love to get The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but it is too cold to go shopping," then Women and Children First has a solution. If you buy the hardcover version from them online, they'll ship it for free. They'll also ship you hardcover versions of It's Not the End of the World by Kate Atkinson or The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler for free. It's the first time they've offered this, so make it a huge success so they'll keep doing it. Winter doesn't end till April or so anyway.

Old Chicago Neighborhoods

Combining more than 100 duotone images with stories from over 125 Chicagoans, "The Old Chicago Neighborhood: Remembering Life in the 1940s" looks back fondly at daily life, the war years, sports and recreation, and entertainment in Chicagos neighborhoods. Over the last year, Neal Samors and fellow author, Michael Williams, have sold over $200,000 worth of copies. Visit to read more and order online. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

A Prize for Studs

The National Book Critics Circle will be giving its lifetime achievement award this year to Chicago's favorite oral historian and national treasure Studs Terkel. [Trib login: gapers/gapers]

Don Norman on Emotional Design

Don Norman will discuss his new book, Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, at 7pm tonight at Evanston's Main Library, 1703 Orrington. According to Norman, a well-rounded product will "enhance the heart as well as the mind, being a joy to behold, to use, and to own." Free. For information, call 847/866-0300.

Instead of a Book, Give a Child a Library

As a follow-up to an earlier post, the Sun-Times has a brief commentary about the governor's plan to distribute books to infants while cutting library funding. Chicago's own Shifted Librarian also looks at the issue and urges library supporters to contact the governor about his "boneheaded idea." She writes, "Let's support our existing libraries and provide our children with more than just one book a month. We can do better than that, and guess what? Libraries already do better than that. Keep funding them."

Greatest living author tells all

Robert Birnbaum interviews Neal Pollack, who discusses his Chicago influences and the lessons he learned as a staff writer at the Reader.

Audrey Niffenegger

Local author Audrey Niffenegger will read from (and sign) her best-selling book, The Time Traveler's Wife, at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Thursday night at 7:30pm. Call 773/769-9299 or check here for more information. To bone up beforehand, read this Bookslut interview with Niffenegger.

Chicago Christmas

WBBM reporter Jim Benes has written a book, Chicago Christmas: 100 Years of Christmas Memories. The AM station runs excerpts from the book during the holiday season; today's edition is a story from 1933.

Lonely But Lovely

Paul Hornschemeier's comic goodness, Forlon Funnies, offers a beautiful view into a lonely world. The Chicago transplant finds the city the perfect working environment; the grey days offer plenty of introspection which is evident in the pages of his comics. He has received much praise for his work, including a nomination from the Harveys for best new talent and two nominations from the Eisners for best coloring and best new series. In addition to all the good vibes, Dark Horse Comics is releasing his graphic novel, Mother, Come Home on December 31st. The novel is based on a story from issues two through four of Forlon Funnies. You can orderMother, Come Home online or find it locally at Chicago Comics or Quimby's.

'Chicago Christmas, 1984'

"John burned. They were going to see. They were going to see that the long years of wrongs done him had created a tremendous backlog of owed good luck, which was going to surge forward now, holy and personal." Gambling, losing and being a white roofer on the South Side: George Saunders remembers "Chicago Christmas, 1984." Related: Saunders discusses writing the story: "I think the main influence was the extreme Chicago version of satire. The way that all emotion was communicated through irony, punching in the ribs, insults to ones mother, etc. And the way that all of this teasing masked deep, Eastern European levels of pathos, love for life, friend loyalty, etc."

Our New Poet Laureate

Kevin Stein, a professor at Bradley University in Peoria, becomes the new Illinois Poet Laureate today, succeeding Gwendolyn Brooks who died in 2000. Stein will serve a four-year term, and is required to perform four public readings each year. He most recently edited a book, "Illinois Voices," an anthology of 20th century poetry from the Lincoln state. (Those who wish to depose him in 2007, take note: the position is unpaid.)

Interview with Chicago Author

The new issue of Bookslut features an interview with Chicago writer and artist Audrey Niffenegger, author of the well-reviewed novel, The Time Traveler's Wife.

Ross' Mythology

Wilmette resident Alex Ross paints comic-book characters so lifelike that they look like your next-door neighbor—if your neighbor wore spandex and had heat vision. Ross and graphic designer/author Chip Kidd will be signing their new book, Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, this Saturday at Chicago Comics from 3 to 6 pm.

The Value of Libraries

The Daily Herald writes that far from becoming obsolete, the demand for public library services is on the rise. Suburban libraries, such as the Round Lake Area Library, have seen 20-25% increases in their circulation every year for the past 3 years -- a trend echoed by libraries across the country.

Money Problems at Poetry

Things are not good at Poetry
After inheriting Ruth Lilly's money tree.
For all this confusion
I have a solution:
Just give that $100 million to me!

Trib's best books list coming on Sunday

Pick up this Sunday's Chicago Tribune for their annual best books of the year list. (Or just look at their site on Sunday, because the list will also be online.)

Working Studs

Chicago author and historian Studs Terkel is getting some good press on the heels of his new book, Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times. He's the subject of an interview at (Salon registration required, or you can get a free day pass for the article), and Hope Dies Last is reviewed favorably in this week's AV Club section in the Onion. If you haven't picked up your copy yet, you might want to stop by the Barnes & Noble at 1441 W. Webster on Sunday, November 30; Studs will be doing a discussion and booksigning at 3:00.

A Most Literary Email List

Want to be up on the city's literary scene? Subscribe to the email list, whose "announcements are for readings, signings, journal or magazine releases, discussions, lectures, symposia, special events and other activities in Chicago relating to books, authors and literature." It is, of course, free.

Drunken Writing Night

For those of you who think National Novel Writing Month is more than you can handle, you may find National Drunken Writing Night more up your alley. One drink an hour, one story an hour, until there's only one writer left standing - and it's tonight. So grab some candy and get writing!

Oh, boy!

IIT's Shlomo Argamon helped write the algorithm behind the Gender Genie, this week's blog meme. Enter a passage of text and the Genie predicts the author's gender. I entered several days of Merge, the Proprietors page and the current installments of Detour, Airbags and Fuel, and the results were unanimous: Gapers Block is a boy!


Stitch-n-Bitch isn't just the name of a group of knitters who get together once a week. Its now the title of a knitting book written by Debbie Stoller, the co-founder and editorial director of Bust magazine. While Debbie founded the New York knitting group, Brenda Janish (whose knitted catbed pattern appears on page 228) founded the Chicago chapter. There are more than 500 members on the list-serv, the group just celebrated its third anniversary and it's outgrown several coffee shops. (They're together every Tuesday night from 7-9 at the Art Gallery Kafe.) Jennifer Mindel, a Chicago graphic designer and s-n-b member, designed the "Windy City Scarf," which appears on page 159 and seems perfect for the weather headed our way.


Only 10 days to go until National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, Nov. 30. Chicago participants will be having a kick-off party at 6 p.m. at the Ten Cat, 3931 N. Ashland.

The thing with feathers

Studs Terkel has a new volume of oral history, "Hope Dies Last." Here's a fantastic Onion interview: "Hope is very personal. What's the alternative to hope? Despair. Well, if you despair, then put your head in the oven. What's the point? Am I sanguine about the future? Hell, no, I'm worried stiff. But I think the American people basically are decent. This I know."

Potential laureates reading

Michael Anania and Haki Madhubuti, two of five finalists for the vacant position of Illinois Poet Laureate, are reading tonight in the Ballroom of the School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan Ave, 6:30 p.m.

Greatest Living American Blog Satirist

Former Reader and McSweeney's writer Neal Pollack returns to town to promote his latest book, "Never Mind the Pollacks." Thursday, Oct. 16, there will be a free reading at Quimby's (1854 W. North) at 7:30, followed by a 9:30 show at the Subterranean (2011 W. North) with his band, The Neal Pollack Invasion ($8). Friday at 12:30 he'll read at Borders (150 N. State), then at 9 open for comedy troupe Schadenfreude at the Athenaeum (2936 N. Southport; $20).

Author wins Nobel Prize ... in Chicago.

Congratulations to South African writer J.M. Coetzee, who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr. Coetzee is currently teaching at the University of Chicago, also home to a series of Nobel-winning economists. The moral here: if you want a shot at a Nobel, try teaching at the U of C. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]


Since you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you can read and that you like to read. Based on these assumptions, you are a perfect candidate for a Read-A-Thon to support the Blue Gargoyle Adult and Family Learning Programs.

The Blue Gargoyle Adult and Family Learning Program is located at 5655 S. University Ave. Their phone number is 773/955-4108 and their email address is

Get your war on tour

Anyone want to bring Davis Rees to Chicago? The creator of Get your war on is on tour, and willing to add additional stops. All that's needed is space and an overhead transparency projector.

Go Bug Newt

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, will be signing his book "Gettysburg, a Novel of the Civil War" at the Borders at 150 N. State St. today starting at 12:30 pm -- just in time for some lunchtime entertainment.

A Haiku

What a great resource
is Chicago Poetry
dot com
? Take a look.

Wild Chicago: The Book

That Wild Chicago book we were just talking about? Host Will Clinger will be signing books tonight at the Barnes & Noble located at the corner of Clark and Diversey, beginning at 7:30. There will also be a group of Stitch'n'Bitchers knitting live in case you'd like to meet them.

Wild Chicago Goes Paper

This is unfortunately the last season for Channel 11's wonderful Wild Chicago -- financial problems at WTTW and the hosts' interests in moving on have cut the show down in the prime of its life. However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a companion book has just been published, so you can follow along during the no-doubt endless reruns to come.

Pistil Magazine

Pistil Magazine is still accepting submissions for its fall issue. The theme is public/private, their premiere issue may still be on magazine racks and is dedicated to Chicago. If you're interested in expanding your writing horizons, give these people a submission. We creative folks gotta stick together if we're going to outshine the coasts, y'know.

Neil Gaiman in BookPage

BookPage profiles Neil Gaiman in the August issue, looking at his new forthcoming children's book, The Wolves in the Walls. A few lucky Chicagoans, myself included, heard Gaiman read this book when he appeared at the Printer's Row Book Fair in June.

Chi Town

Anne, from Bells and Whistles writes a wonderful review of Norbert Blei's Chi Town. It is the final book in a trilogy about the city of Chicago and would be a good place for new Chicago residents to read.
Another book which will serve new city residents, or people looking for a new neighborhood, is the Not For Tourists Guide to Chicago. It breaks the city down into regions and provides info on everything from liquor stores to hardware stores, restaraunts, and brief mentions of neighborhood feel. Cover price is $16.95.

3:15 Experiment

The 3:15 experiment is a collective writing project where participants write at 3:15am (in a specified time zone) every day for the month of August. Originally conceived at Naropa, it's intended to be an exercise on "states of consciousness and the writing discover what connections would be made while writing separately, but together." The next 3:15 is coming up, and they're looking for more participants.

The Ragtime Ephemeralist

For those of you with a soft spot for ragtime music, The Ragtime Ephemeralist may be of keen interest. The publication digs deep into the history of the genre, and the site offers additional resources, including some sample recordings. First rate!

Pomposity! Lit Rag

Pomposity!, a "lit rag for the computing set," is a product of a couple students in the Interactive Multimedia Program at Columbia College. The html version is dead, but the Flash site boasts a nice mix of high- and low-brow writing.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition, has been released to much fanfare. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a review.

Among the changes: "Possessive versus attributive forms. A strong preference is expressed for retaining the apostrophe in plural forms (e.g., employees cafeteria, consumers group). 7.27."
Which means that Gapers' Block (with an apostrophe) is more correct than Gapers Block. We're still not changing the logo.

Irvine Welsh reads Porno

Porno galore tonight when Irvine Welsh reads from his latest book. At the Metro so don't forget, and yes it's free!

14th National Poetry Slam

Tickets for the 14th National Poetry Slam go on sale today at noon via the evil that is Ticketmaster. Three-day passes will be sold by the Chopin Theater beginning August 5th, and cover can be paid at any of the individual venues the throughout the event.
Marc Smith, a construction worker in Chicago, started an audience-participated open mike poetry slam at the Green Mill in 1986. The format spread throughout the world. Now, all the top winners are going to be descending on Chicago beginning the first full week in Chicago to see who can give the slam down.
They're also looking for volunteers.

buy more books

Does anything rock more than big sales at cool bookstores? Women and Children First's annual blowout runs July 19-27 -- 20% (or more) off every book in the store! Wow.

You Shall Know Our Eggers

Yo! You know that dude that wrote that hipster book man, that everyone and their soccer moms I know seems to have read? Yeah! That McSweeney's dude! Dave Scrambled Eggs or sumthin? Yeah! He's gonna be reading from his latest book, "You Shall Know Our Velocity" down at the Ballroom at 112 S. Michigan on the AIC grounds. Man, that sounds like some religious thing. Nah man, that cool hipster bookstore that everyone and their soccer moms I know seems to go to is putting it on. Quincy? No man, that's a show about a doctor or sumthin, Quimby's man, Quimby's. Word up.

Young Feminist Book Club

Are you a young feminist who likes to read? Then venture to Women & Children First on the third Monday of every month for the Young Feminist Book Club. The group votes on which titles will be read and focuses mostly on non-fiction. The next book is Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson. She also wrote Sexing the Cherry and Passion, so you can guess that this is a quite sexy, yet gender-ambiguous novel. If you purchase the book at the store, you get a 10% discount.
Books have been picked through next January and will be available on the calendar portion of this site. Or, you can get more information by calling 773/769-9299.

Pride Reading

Author Sheila Seclearr will discuss her book "A Tree on Turtle Island" at Women and Children First Bookstore. The reading will take place on June 26 at 7:30 p.m. at 5233 N Clark.

Independent Potters, Part One

Love Harry Potter but hate The Man? In addition to Barnes & Noble as Alex mentions below, many local independent booksellers will also be hosting Potter parties Friday night, including Seminary Co-op in Hyde Park, Women and Children First in Andersonville, and the web-impaired Unabridged Books in Lake View.

Heads up for Potter heads

The latest installment in the Harry Potter chronicles, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" will go on sale Saturday, June 21st. Many Barnes and Noble Book Sellers will host release parties on Friday. Check with your local store for more information.

Hilary's Coming Home

Heard on WBEZ this morning that Hilary Rodham Clinton is coming to the Women and Children First bookstore June 28th at 10:30am to sign copies of her book. Wonder if she's going to travel along or will be coming with her husband too?

The Discrete Series

The Discrete Series is an event of poetry/music/performance/etc. on the second Friday of each month at Elastic Revolution. Tomorrow's performance features poetry by Mark Nowak, Drew Kunz & Greg Purcell. For more information, see the event listing. 3030 W. Cortland, 9pm, $5 donation.

Blues Travesty

"Like Hollywood's best film noir, these clubs are in the business of producing middle-class fantasies of urban life, thrilling and dark. But in reality, most of these places feel more like Disneyland with booze." In an interview for U. Chicago Press, Blue Chicago author David Grazian skewers the crass commericalism of the city's blues clubs -- and expectations that blues musicians must be black.

Poet Laureate Nominations

The position of Illinois Poet Laureate was created in 1936; since then, it has been held by three people: Howard B. Austin, Carl Sandburg, and Gwendolyn Brooks. The position has been vacant since Brooks's death in 2000. Recently, a lobbying process was begun to find a new laureate, and to impose term limits on the position. The lobbying was successful: what was once a lifetime appointment will be a four-year renewable term. Nominations are now being accepted.

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is this year's recipient of the Harold Washington Literary Award for her creative use of the written word. Her most recent book, Oryx and Crake was published last month. She will be accepting her award at the Harold Washington Library on Sunday, June 8th at 1:30 pm as part of the Chicago Tribune Printer's Row Book Fair. If you're wondering why you haven't read anything about this in the Chicago Tribune it could have something to do with the fact that her books often end up on Banned Book lists. Or I could be beating them to it.
Check out the program for more activities.

Elizabeth Crane's Top 10

Chicago-based writer Elizabeth Crane, of "The Messenger is Hot", a book which by now you've seen in that you should read section of your local Borders or B&N (it has quite a nice design), lists her Top 10 Reading List, subtitled "An Antidote to Bestselleritis". Undoubtedly, most intellectual and "hipster types" will find this list familiar.

Reading at Women & Children's First

DePaul professor Maria de los Angeles Torres will be reading from her book "By Heart/De Memoria" tonight, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. The book chronicles Torres' journey (and that of 10 other essayists) from Cuba to Miami, during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The reading will take place at Women and Children First bookstore located at 5233 N. Clark. For more information, call 773.769.9299.

Printer's Row Book Fair

The 19th annual Printer's Row Book Fair (June 7 & 8, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Dearborn & Polk, free admission) will feature a panel on Chicago's independent publishers.

From the Lake Claremont Press site:

There are about 56,000 small and independent presses in the United States and only a handful of large publishing houses. The latter generates 80% of the industry's revenue, but the small presses release 80% of the titles. Our Chicago Indie Publishers Panel will showcase a variety of local presses; delve into their different origins, roles, and specialties; consider the independent publisher in light of such things as media conglomeration, the Internet, DIY, and other trends affecting literacy and the distribution of knowledge and art; and inquire into ways Chicago could build its independent publishing scene.

The panel will be moderated by Julie Parson-Nesbitt, an editorial board member of Tia Chucha Press, the publishing wing of the Guild Complex.

Panelists: Sharon Woodhouse of Lake Claremont Press, Haki Madhubuti of Third World Press, Penelope Rosemont of Charles Kerr, Anita Miller of Academy Chicago, and Jackie Lalley of Family Support America.

Mat Johnson Reading

Author Mat Johnson, will be doing a reading to promote his new book "Hunting in Harlem" on June 3 at Barbara's Books located at 1350 N. Wells at 7:30. Walter Mosley says of the book, "Mat Johnson's breathless thriller cuts to the heart of gentrification. Hunting in Harlem shakes up the issues of urban blight and asks, How far do you go to set it right? Implausibly humorous, righteously terrifying, (it is) a cautionary tale for our time."

Oak Park Promotes Reefer Madness

Eric Schlosser is going to be at Barbara's Bookstore (no website?!?) in downtown Oak Park at 7:30 on Thursday. Fast Food Nation was one of my favorite books last year, and his new one, Reefer Madness, is surely just as good. Call 708.848.9140 for details.

Right Field Sucks

Right Field Sucks is an Onion-esque look at Cubs fandom. It recently spawned a print newspaper, The Heckler, distributed at bars and restaurants around Wrigley Field. (Written up in last week's Hot Type column in The Reader.)

Oyez Review - Issue 30

The latest issue of Roosevelt University's award-winning literary magazine, Oyez Review is now on sale. Issue 30 which features work by poets Saul Bennett, Robert E. Haynes and Don Winter can be purchased for $4 at the Roosevelt book store (at both Chicago and Schamburg campuses) or by calling Professor Janet Wondra at 312.341.3770.

As always, working with new

As always, working with new writers and promoting local talent Tia Chucha Press is now accepting submissions of chapbooks from Illinois poets. Full details are available at their website. The deadline, June 30, is rapidly approaching so apply today.

Speakeasy Magazine

Speakeasy Magazine is hosting a forum to discuss the relationship between readers and writers, how politics does and should affect how readers read, and how writers write. Women & Children First will be sponsoring the discussion on Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30 in the store. The panelists, Sara Paretsky, Carol Anshaw, Rosellen Brown, and Aleksandar Hemon., will discuss whether writing should address political realities, how politics affect what people read, and what it means to be a literary citizen.

The bi-monthly Speakeasy Magazine was launched in September 2002 by the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards

The Guild Complex is now accepting submissions for their 10th annual "Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards." All entries must be received by May 30th. Sadly though, if accepted you'll have to leave your rubber chickens and kazoos at home -- no musical accompaniment or props allowed.



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