Hands down, best book festival I’ve had the pleasure of attending is Printers Row Lit Fest in downtown Chicago.
The first weekend in June, the streets are filled with booksellers, authors and other book-related vendors (like writers groups). In nearby venues, authors, authors, authors galore are talking about writing and books in dozens of panels and workshops.
I attended Lit Fest ’15 on Saturday, where I was thrilled to get Jen Lancaster’s John Hancock on her latest book, I Regret Nothing. Lancaster is my hero, making a living as she does writing (mostly) memoirs. Her first and snarkiest entry was Bitter Is the New Black and during her appearance, I asked her about meeting people in real life that she’s written about. She admitted, as I suspected, that her approach has changed as she has become more well known. “I can’t flip people off in the little town where I live because people know me now,” she said (or something close to that, I wasn’t taking notes I was sweating so profusely to ask a question from her crowd of admirers. Her books are funny (whereas, I’m not), but I love that she is able to turn her everyday life into books.
I also picked up Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World after hearing her talk about her work. She’s a poet who, among many other accomplishments, recited her poem “Praise Song for the Day” at Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inauguration. Unfortunately, her husband died suddenly three years ago. She talks about him and her grief in The Light of the World. Hearing her read from it, I can’t wait to dive into her beautiful language. I missed getting her signature in my book because I had to catch the Metra home.
I missed my train, too, but while I waited for the next one, I dug through my gift bag for renewing my subscription to Printers Row Journal, the weekly publication about all things books produced by Chicago Tribune. Wow! What a treasure trove! Besides the regular benefits (insightful books reviews, all year-long) and the rather pedestrian book bags, I received several free ebooks, a booklet of fiction, a leather-bound journal (I’m sure it’s not leather, but the binding is a sewn binding, which is impressive), a bookmark I can put a picture into and a book light! All for $19.99. (I can’t wait to use the book light while my husband snoozes beside me). By the way, you don’t have to live in Chicago to appreciate a membership to Printers Row Journal.
If you’re a book lover who’s thinking of visiting Chicago, mark your calendar for next year at this time and plan around Printers Row Lit Fest. You won’t regret it.