November 13, 2010

AROUND TOWN: Books, books and more books

Robert Charles and I are looking forward to the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame ceremony this coming Saturday evening. In what promises to be the literary event of the year, we are delighted by the prospect of walking the “well-read” carpet to celebrate the likes of Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry and Saul Bellow. Tickets are still available. Please join us.

Mr. Charles and I also recently attended the Gerber-Hart Library benefit, where powerhouse actress Alexandra Billings lit up the evening with an electric performance. During the festivities, we had the chance to catch up with local writers Owen Keehnen and Darwyn Jones as well as magic aficionados Robert Cohn and Norman Sandfield.

A few weeks later, Mr. Charles and I had the pleasure of making the rounds to a handful of bookstores with Jay and Michelle Horn, who had traveled by train from St. Louis to spend Halloween weekend with us here in Chicago. (And what great fun it is when out-of-town guests ask to go book hunting!) Our friend Oz joined us, as well. Oz – his real name is Jeffrey Osman; he’s just moved to Chicago from California – is a bit of a literary character himself. In fact, Oz seems to have stepped right off the pages of some nifty book, if that nifty book had been co-written by John Cheever, Henry Miller, Nelson Algren and Jane Addams. We passed several hours during the weekend walking to some of our favorite bookstores and thumbing through the stacks: Ravenswood Used Books and the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square; Quimby’s in Bucktown/Wicker Park; the Occult Bookstore in Noble Square; and Alchemy Arts in Edgewater.

Jay and Michelle could’ve used an extra suitcase to carry home the books they bought. The best news? They promised to return soon for more and, of course, there are so many more bookstores to visit: Unabridged Books in Boystown; Women and Children First in Andersonville; Seminary Co-op Bookstore and 57th Street Books in Hyde Park; Barnes & Noble at Webster Place; Myopic Books in Bucktown/Wicker Park; Border’s in Uptown; Bookworks and Booklegger’s in Lakeview; Bookman’s Alley in Evanston; Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in Printer’s Row; and on and on.

Speaking of bookstores, I managed to visit the new home of Elliott Bay Book Company on a recent trip to Seattle. The venerable bookseller recently moved from Pioneer Square to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Happily, the new store retains the cathedral-like feeling of the old store. How do you know when you’re in a great bookstore? When you can feel a respect for words, a respect for stories; it’s when you can sense the presence of the sacred without any of the sanctimony, a feeling almost all houses of worship lack. A good bookstore is my church.


Anonymous George Parker said...

A church indeed, but a church as it was originally intended I think. Not telling people what to think or how to behave. But inviting people to explore the hidden treasures on the shelves or between the covers. To share ideas, mix them and be curious about what comes out of that.
Thanks for reminding me...

November 14, 2010  

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