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Tuesday, June 15

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Events Wed Jun 06 2007

GB Book Club Guide to the Printers Row Book Fair

What's the Printers Row Book Fair, you ask, and why are we at the Book Club so excited about it? Founded in 1985 for the purpose of attracting people to the Printers Row neighborhood, the Book Fair is the largest free outdoor literary event in the city, and quite possibly in the entire Midwest. The fair spans two days and five city blocks, bringing in more than 190 sellers of new, used and antiquarian books, and offering over 90 free literary programs. Author readings and panel discussions are held over eleven stages, and each author stays after the event to offer visitors the chance to have their books signed. This is a great place to get acquainted with the city's numerous independent booksellers as well as local publishers and literacy and cultural organizations that make the Chicago literary scene as vibrant as it is. But the best part is that it's all free, accessible to anyone and everyone. That's exactly the way literature should be.

With so many author events and book tents, navigating the Printers Row Book Fair can be a daunting task. Below we've created a guide to the fair, highlighting authors of past Book Club selections, other notable local author events and booksellers we've come to know and love. By no means exhaustive, we hope this will provide a little guidance to Printers Row newcomers or to anyone revisiting the fair who just needs a little help deciding where to go.

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If you've been keeping up with the Book Club picks, Printers Row offers a great chance to see some of these authors in person.

Erik Larson – Saturday at 12pm in the University Center River Room/Loop Room
Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City was a huge hit and it was nearly impossible to avoid seeing someone reading it wherever you went. Based on the two true stories of America's first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, and Daniel Burnham's struggle to build the 1893 World's Fair, the book is steeped in mystery and suspense, made even more so by the knowledge that everything actually transpired. Lessons on Chicago history that would otherwise be boring are vibrant and convincing in Larson's hands. Larson is also the author of Isaac's Storm, about a massive hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas, and more recently Thunderstruck, which revisits the dichotomy between a killer and a genius. You can read our August 2006 introduction to The Devil in White City here.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal – Saturday at 12pm in the Chicago Tribune Kids Alley
Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life put the traditional idea of a memoir on its head. Less about the big, important events that shape a life, Rosenthal focuses on the minute and sometimes mundane details that come together to truly make us who we are. Krouse's work can also be found in the children's section, with Little Pea making an appearance in a well-seen Banana Republic ad. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life made for an excellent June 2006 selection.

Audrey Niffenegger – Saturday at 1:20pm in the University Center/Private Dining Room
What can you say about a man who travels through time to ensure that he ends up with the love of his life? If you've read The Time Traveler's Wife, you can say that you've probably fallen a little bit in love with the story of Henry and Clare, the former of whom is afflicted with a genetic disorder that causes him to fall through time. It's the perfect combination of science fiction and romance that leans just far enough to each side to create a cohesive and captivating story. The Time Traveler's Wife was Audrey Niffenegger's debut and she's since authored the illustrated novels The Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. The Time Traveler's Wife was one of our earliest picks, coming in at number three in June 2005.

Studs Terkel in conversation with Rick Kogan – Saturday at 3:15pm in the Harold Washington Library Center Cindy Pritzker Auditorium
It's impossible to go wrong with Studs Terkel. One of the most influential figures in sociology and the practice of oral histories, Terkel has written numerous books on race, war, economic divides and social structures and hosted his own radio show. He has been a film narrator, movie actor, playwright, sportscaster, civil service employee and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. At 95 he is still an engaging speaker. This event is ticketed so be sure to reserve your spot as chairs are likely to fill up fast. Many of us made our introduction to Terkel with Division Street: America in February 2006. Rick Kogan is an award-winning Chicago journalist and host of "Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan" on WGN radio. Kogan is also the author of A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream, which was a big hit when he joined us to discuss his book at our April 2007 book club meeting.

Elizabeth Berg – Sunday at 4pm in the Heartland Stage presented by Barnes & Noble
Elizabeth Berg is the author of ten novels, all of which have become national bestsellers and one of which was chosen to be a part of Oprah's book club. Her debut novel, Durable Goods, was named Best Book of the Year by the American Library Association in 1993. Berg's attention to detail and focus on emotions make her novels – which often focus on the minutiae of family and everyday life – realistic and touching. The Year of Pleasures follows a woman who has just lost her husband as she struggles to regain some normalcy and was our May 2007 book club selection.

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Though all the author events at the fair will be worth attending, below are a few events with local authors that are sure to inspire.

Sara Paretsky
Saturday, 12pm in the Harold Washington Library Cindy Pritzker Auditorium

Sara Paretsky is one of the city's most notable and noticed mystery writers. Her series of books focusing on female private eye V.I. Warshawski has been translated into nearly thirty languages. Her latest book, Writing in an Age of Silence, takes a look at the repression of free speech in the U.S. and the traditions of political and literary dissent that have influenced her life and work.

Criminal Minds: C.J. Box, Marcus Sakey & Sean Chercover moderated by Kevin Guilfoile
Saturday, 2:30pm in the University Center/Private Dining Room

Book Club author Kevin Guilfoile leads three local writers in a discussion of the mystery and crime genre. C.J. Box is the author of eight novels and has won numerous awards, including an Edgar Award, and has been featured in the Best American Mystery Stories series. Marcus Sakey's debut novel, The Blade Itself, led the author to shadow homicide detectives in the name of research and was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. Sean Chercover was once a private investigator in Chicago and New Orleans and has written for film, television and print. His debut novel is Big City, Bad Blood.

Drawings on a Page – Anne Elizabeth Moore & Anders Nilsen in conversation with Julia Keller
Saturday, 3:30pm at Hotel Blake in the Burnham Room

Punk Planet editor, Best American Comics series editor and contributor to Bitch magazine, the Chicago Reader and the Journal of Popular Culture and more, Anne Elizabeth Moore joins comic artist Anders Nilsen, who has been published by Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics and McSweeney's.

Murder Most Foul – Jeffery Deaver & Lori Andrews moderated by Kevin Guilfoile
Sunday, 11am at the Nelson Algren Stage

Kevin Guilfoile returns for a conversation with two more local mystery writers. Jeffrey Deaver has been a poet, a journalist, a lawyer and, since 1990, an author of mystery and suspense. With twenty-two books to his name, Deaver's novels have been translated into 35 languages and have been international bestsellers. In addition to being an award-winning writer, Lori Andrews is also a law professor and the director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology. An expert on genetics and law, Andrews was chosen to chair the federal advisory committee for legal, ethical and social implications of the Human Genome Project.

American Heritage Dictionary Define-A-Thon
Sunday, 2pm at the Nelson Algren Stage

This just sounds like fun. A word-based competition, the American Heritage Dictionary Define-A-Thon goes way beyond the spelling bee to test the intimate knowledge of English word use. The game will give each contestant a definition and several possible answers, with each contestant picking the right one to progress to the next round. For the first time ever, it may be fun to read the dictionary.

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Below are booksellers and publishers who work tirelessly to keep Chicago literature dynamic and exciting through the publication of commendable books and the support they offer to local authors, both established and unknown. They are simply the ones we have come to know and love. (Sidewalk/tent placement is listed next to each name.)

Barbara's Bookstore – PP4
Barbara's Bookstore opened its doors in 1963 and has grown to occupy several stores throughout Chicago, from Macy's on State St. to UIC to Oak Park. Though wholly independent, Barbara's has since expanded to New York, Minneapolis, Boston and Philadelphia. They feature a great array of fiction, nonfiction and local writings as well as playing host to numerous up and coming and established writers. Multiple locations; call 312-666-3161 for information.

Bookworks – 152, 154
This Lakeview used bookstore offers not only contemporary reads and literary classics, but also out-of-print and rare books and used and rare recordings. Genres include cookbooks, philosophy, science fiction, children's books, humor, pop culture and more. Their online store provides a useful tool for out of town fans of the store or anyone who wants to avoid ordering from the big chain sellers. 3444 N. Clark St.; call 773-871-5318 for information.

Chicago Rare Book Center – C4
Located in Evanston, this used bookstore is for the serious rare book collector. Focusing on children's books, modern literature, jazz and blues, art, Chicago, Americana and bindings and sets, the store also gives the opportunity to search for and purchase rare books online. They'll also buy your rare books from you, offering their own appraisal service. 703 W. Washington St. in Evanston; call 847-328-2132 for information.

Featherproof Books – 333
A local, independent publisher, Featherproof's most unique aspect is the free mini-books they feature on their website. They're downloadable, foldable, staple-able and ready to carry in your back pocket everywhere. This young publisher has also put out three full-size books, with one more to come out in the fall. In the world of independent publishing, these guys are ones to watch.

Illinois Women's Press Association – FF
Founded in 1185, the Illinois Women's Press Association is an organization of professionals who work to maintain and improve the standards of mass communication in the state. Members are privy to job announcements, regular newsletters and valuable networking opportunities. The IWPA's own book fair occurs every fall. Call 312-458-9151 for information.

Kate the Great's Book Emporium – G2
Named for the Russian Empress Katherine the Great, Kate the Great's houses new books as well as used, out-of-print and rare collectibles. They even offer a Recycle & Save special, allowing visitors to bring in up to 15 books to be evaluated and traded in for store credit. With plenty of free readings and literary events, Kate is an Edgewater must-stop. 5550 N. Broadway; call 773-561-1932 for information.

Lake Claremont Press – DD1
Lake Claremont Press publishes some of the most in-depth and well-researched books about the city. Learn about Chicago ghostlore and graveyards, brush on the great Chicago fires, take in a drink and a burger at the infamous Billy Goat Tavern or pick up one of their guidebooks, such as those catering to foodies, blues fans and gays and lesbians. Lake Claremont celebrates Chicago in a way that only a true lover of the city can.

McSweeney's Publishing – PP2
Although McSweeney's doesn't publish in Chicago, we're all too happy to play up the connection between Chicago-born, Lake Forest-bred Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney's the literary magazine and its publishing counterpart. McSweeney's has published several unknown authors who have gone on to literary success, proving that independent literature should be both great and accessible.

Powell's Bookstore – U
Everyone knows Powell's from their massive Portland location, but few know that it started right here in Hyde Park. With two other locations – one in Printers Row and the other in Lakeview – Powell's has some of the greatest used and remained books for impossible to beat prices. Each store has its own feel and focuses on slightly different genres, meaning that everyone favors one particular store and will go out of their way to visit it. The Powell's North location also holds a monthly reading series, matching established writers with rising local talent. 2850 N. Lincoln Ave; 773-248-1444. 828 S. Wabash, 312-341-0748. 1501 E. 57th St., 773-955-7780.

The Book Cellar – HH3
Home to the Gapers Block Book Club, the Book Cellar holds some of the greatest free literary events in the city. They've held readings from many authors, including Studs Terkel and Alpana Singh, hold their own monthly book club discussion group, encourage romance with their Date and Dash nights and every month give a platform to emerging writers with their Local Author Night. Their events schedule alone is a must-read and the welcoming staff makes an everyday visit a great time. 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.; call 773-293-2665 for information.

The Newberry Library – 142
The Newberry Library has always been free and open to public and is one of the leading independent research libraries in the nation. With classes, lectures, exhibits, concerts and other public programming, the Newberry holds treasures for everyone interested in the humanities. The Newberry also holds its own book fair every July, accompanied by music, poetry and debates in the neighboring square. 60 W. Walton St.; call 312-255-3510 for information.

Women & Children First – PP1
In addition to being a general fiction bookstore, Women & Children First is also one the best places to pick up literature on feminism and gender studies. The women-owned store offers its own book club, free events with everyone from Erica Jong to the women of Bitch magazine, and the Women's Voices Fund, which works to preserve the discussion of feminist issues and culture and nurture children's interest in books. 5233 N. Clark St.; call 773-769-9299 for information.

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The Printers Row Book Fair is held in the Printers Row neighborhood, in the blocks surrounding the intersection of Dearborn and Polk streets. Call 312-222-3986 for more information or visit their website at

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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