June 11, 2012

my weekend of books!

This weekend was ALL about books, which has to be one of the very BEST ways to spend a weekend. My friend Missy was visiting from Iowa and we packed in as many books, bookstores, and author events as we possibly could! Her visit was strategically planned around the 28th Annual Printer's Row Lit Fest, held right in downtown Chicago. With more than 125,000 people in attendance over the two days of the festival, Printer's Row is "the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest." It has been years since I was able to catch both days of the Fest, and it was really a treat to be able to do so this year!
I heard many authors discuss and/or read from their books and met several of them afterward to have my books signed! Here are some of the books I had signed:
I first read Margot Livesey years ago on the recommendation of one of my brilliant writer friends, Katie. Eva Moves the Furniture is one of my favorite novels ever, and I am super excited to read The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which is Ms. Livesey's newest novel, a reimagining of the classic novel Jane Eyre. It was an absolute delight to meet Margot in person! She was very kind and warm and I grew ridiculously giddy about meeting her, but I think I managed not to embarrass myself too much. She spoke about her books with the same fascinating mix of whimsy and intention I adore about her characters.
I recently picked up Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, and have only read a few pages, but I am really intrigued by this novel, which won the National Book Award for 2011. I have certain comfort zones in my literary tastes, and love to pick up a tried-and-true author, but I am also trying to reach outside of my established tastes to read new voices and subject matters. This book is one of my reaches into new reading territory. Ms. Ward spoke quietly but powerfully about writing this book, which includes passages in which she had to draw from her own experience of Hurricane Katrina as she wrote. I was especially moved to hear about the connections she felt to her characters, and how she challenged herself as a writer  to overcome some of her own obstacles as she wrote some of the novel's really uncomfortable and controversial passages. I purchased Nami Mun's Miles from Nowhere after hearing her speak about the book in her event. It is another book that I believe will push me outside some of my usual reading choices and help me gain new perspectives in reading. Nami spoke on a panel with Alex Shakar, who wrote the acclaimed novel Luminarium, which I also purchased and had signed for Ryan. I am really excited to read both books!
One of the weekend's other book experiences that Missy and I shared was our book-hunting adventures. Along with the many, many book stalls set up at Printer's Row, we visited Unabridged, Sandmeyer's, and The Book Cellar in Chicago, and Bookhunters in Naperville. We tried to visit a few others, like Bookman's Corner in Chicago (below), but we ran out of time to catch them before they closed. 
Here are some of the books I found as bargains in our 'hunt'! I was very excited to hit the book-hunting jackpot. I am SO motivated to read more and read faster!!
Did any of you attend Printer's Row this weekend? Which authors have you met who have inspired or challenged your own approach to reading and writing??

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