City Lit's blog

Announcing Our June Book Drive!

One book

Two books

Old books

New books

(In good shape, please--

Read with care!)

What a lot of

Books to share!

We're very excited to announce that we at City Lit Books are partnering with Bernie's Book Bank for the month of June to collect new and gently used books for kids of all ages, newborn up to sixth grade. Starting June 1st and running through the 30th, you can drop off any children’s books you’ve got collecting dust on your shelves, or buy books from us to donate. Our table in the children's section will be devoted to suggested picks, but we're happy with any books you'd love to give. No need to pack anything up—we’ll have collection boxes waiting for you.

Bernie's Book Bank collects, processes and distributes quality new and gently used children's books to significantly increase BOOK OWNERSHIP among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland. Their work helps kids build full libraries to love and cherish for years to come. Check out their website to see who they are and how they work.

Stay tuned for details about our June 4th popup at the Logan Square Farmers’ Market, where we’ll be happy to talk books and book banks alike. Happy Spring!

 

April is here and our book clubs are ready for spring!

 

If you don’t know about the book clubs we host at City Lit, now is a good time to get involved. We currently have 4 book clubs that meet once a month, each hosted by one of our booksellers right here in our store – and they are all pretty great. The book clubs, that is. I guess the booksellers are ok, too.

No obligations, no sign up required, just grab your copy here and we’ll give you a discount, then come hang out with us and talk about the book! Here’s what we have coming up in April:

First up is the Wilde Readers Book Club, a reading group focusing on LGBTQ lit, classic and contemporary, and this month’s pick is Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart. Wilde Readers will meet Tuesday 4/11 at 6:30pm.

 

Next is the Weird & Wonderful Book Club, Our monthly celebration of the weird—be it science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or any genre otherwise strange! This month they are reading Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, a favorite author of host Travis. Perfect for readers of George Saunders, Karen Russell, Neil Gaiman, and Aimee Bender, Magic for Beginners is an exquisite, dreamlike dispatch from a virtuoso storyteller who can do seemingly anything. Kelly Link reconstructs modern life through an intoxicating prism, conjuring up unforgettable worlds with humor and humanity. These stories are at once ingenious and deeply moving. They leave the reader astonished and exhilarated. Weird & Wonderful will meet Wednesday 4/12 at 6:30pm.

 

After that is the Found in Translation Book Club, where each month we dive into fresh English translations of stand-out fiction from around the world. Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez is April’s book, a recent favorite of Travis and host Devon. An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent. Macabre, disturbing, and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence; to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part; from street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies; and from a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret, and compassion, this is a strange, surreal, and unforgettable collection that asks vital questions of the world as we know it. If the description hasn’t scared you off, meet with the Found in Translation Book Club Thursday 4/20 at 6:30pm.

 

Our last book club meeting this month will be In Brief, a club to explore a collection of short stories from writers new and established. April’s pick is A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. In 1955, with this short story collection, Flannery O'Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O'Connor's unique, grotesque view of life--infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the necessity of salvation. Through these classic stories--including "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "Good Country People," "The Displaced Person," and seven other acclaimed tales--O'Connor earned a permanent place in the hearts of American readers. Join In Brief on Tuesday 4/25 at 6:30pm.

We’re pretty excited about our book club picks for April, and hope you’ll join us! Remember – all our book club books come with a 10% discount!

Giovanni's Room Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780345806567
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books - September 12th, 2013

Magic for Beginners Cover Image
By Kelly Link, Shelley Jackson (Illustrator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812986518
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade - July 1st, 2014

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780451495112
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth Press - February 21st, 2017

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780156364652
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - August 23rd, 1977

Coming Soon: The Book Apothecary!

Lovelorn? Anxious? Vaguely frightened by a sense of impending apocalypse and/or dwelling in the general alientation and absurdity of the human condition? Have we got books for you! City Lit's upcoming Book Apothecary will feature over 50 pieces of curative literature hand-selected by some of our favorite authors to soothe your most searing of existential ailments.

Our kick off party will be held two weeks from now on Thursday, March 30 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, with bibliotherapists Juan Martinez and David Welch on hand to prescribe literature.

Authors will read from their recommended books, including Mary Wisniewski (author of Algren)Leslie Parry (author of Church of Marvels), Heidi Stevens (Chicago Tribune columnist), and David Zivan (Editor-in-Chief, CS Magazine). 

A portion of sales that evening will benefit 826CHI, a non-profit organization in Chicago dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

The Book Apothecary pop up will run through April 30th.

We look forward to seeing you here!

City Lit Books 2016 Bestsellers

For the curious, below are last year's bestselling books:

(not pictured - Tacky Goblin by T. Sean Steele)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - JK Rowling
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Sympathizer - Viet Thanh Nguyen
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
The Sellout - Paul Beatty
The Girls - Emma Cline
Underground Railroad - Colton Whitehead
The South Side - Natalie Y. Moore
The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson

Holiday Picks Part Two: Fiction

Books make the best gifts! Here are some ideas in a number of categories. 

Today, it's Fiction! And click here for Part One: Art and Culture!


The beloved first book of the Harry Potter series, now fully illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Kay. For the first time, J.K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Kate Greenaway-award winning artist Jim Kay has created over 100 stunning illustrations, making this deluxe format a perfect gift as much for a child being introduced to the series, as for the dedicated fan. Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility. All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley--a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry--and anyone who reads about him---will find unforgettable. (from the publisher)


Reading a ghost story on Christmas Eve was once as much a part of traditional Christmas celebrations as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus. Biblioasis is thrilled to offer this series of beautifully illustrated, collectible books that share these classic Christmas ghost stories with readers across North America. Seth, our world-famous and beloved cartoonist, designs and illustrates each book in his own inimitable way. Trimmed to fit the coziest stocking, they’re perfect gifts for those who want a bit of extra Christmas chill. (from the publisher)


Penguin Galaxy’s set includes a bunch of books you’ve probably already read before: The Once and the Future King by T.H. White; Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein; Dune by Frank Herbert; 2001: A Space Odysseyby Arthur C. Clarke; The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin; and Neuromancer by William Gibson. Most people probably wouldn’t buy this set just to read the books, though. What you’re actually purchasing is the iconic designs of cover artist Alex Trochut. Penguin Galaxy also went a step further and asked Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and Sandman, to write the series introduction. That makes this, officially, one of the coolest gifts you can get for your favorite scifi geek. (from io9)

Holiday Picks Part One: Art and Culture

Books make the best gifts! Here are some ideas in a number of categories. 

Today, it's Art and Culture!


ART AND CULTURE

  

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages--"since before this was even a show," according to Miranda--traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here. (from the publisher)


The 373-page HEARTS IN SUSPENSION, published by the University of Maine Press, a division of UMaine’s Fogler Library, marks the 50th anniversary of King’s enrollment at UMaine — fall 1966. In the years that followed, the escalating Vietnam War and social unrest nationwide, especially on college and university campuses, had “a profound impact on students of the period and deeply influenced King’s development as a writer and a man,” according to the publisher on the book’s dust jacket. The volume includes a reprint of “Hearts in Atlantis,” which tracks the “awakenings and heartbreak” of his fictional counterpart, Peter Riley, during his first year at UMaine. The novella is accompanied by King’s new essay, “Five to One, One in Five,” in which he reflects on his undergraduate years, creating “a revealing portrait of the artist as (a) young man and a ground-level tableau of this highly charged time. Along with photographs and documents of this era at UMaine are four installments of King’s student newspaper column, “King’s Garbage Truck.” The columns, reprinted for the first time, are described by the publisher as “lively examples of King’s damn-the-torpedoes style.” The entertaining and shrewd youthful perceptions “more than hint at a talent about to take its place in the American literary landscape.” (from the publisher)


Created by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, ATLAS OBSCURA revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer. Anyone can be a tourist. Atlas Obscura is for the explorer. (from the publisher)

City Lit is 4!

Thanks to all of you for supporting us!  

4 years ago we opened our doors with some trepidation and so much excitement!  We were thrilled and amazed to be met with that same excitement from all of you!  

With your support we have have grown and evolved to try to meet Logan Square's literary desires.  We look forward to continuing to grow and open our doors everyday to share our books with you!

Opening Day 2012
Independent Bookstore Day 2016

 

Staff Summer Reading Lists: Halle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ada, or Ardor, Vladimir Nabokov

Fictional memoir with fictional editor’s marginalia and end notes. Pale Fire was totally nuts and I loved it, and Ada has been on my list for a while. 

I’m Losing You, Bruce Wagner

Wagner is some kind of weird secret. When I finished his maximalist LA satire, Dead Stars, I thought “this is a perfect book.” I’m Losing You, I’ll Let You Go, and Still Holding all sound like heavy and saccharine titles, but they’re the titles of Wagner’s Cellphone Trilogy. I feel like these is a good example of what I like about Wagner--super heavy, sad and serious, but also deeply sarcastic.

Patience, Dan Clowes

Ghost World was a defining text of my teens, and I will read anything by Clowes.

The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch

Just finished The Severed Head, and was really digging the nonchalant descriptions of drunkenness and rage and the oppressively polite manners of the characters. The Sea, The Sea (another fake memoir) is a great title.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson

Exorcisms! Coming of age! Sounds great.

Staff Summer Reading Lists: Amanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next few weeks, we'll check out what the staff here at City Lit is planning to read this summer, and a little bit of why. Here's Amanda's list to start us off:

The Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto

Because she has a really great name. But really, I want to read more contemporary Japanese fiction.

The Miner, Natsume Sōseki

More Japanese stuff, but this guy is apparently one of the pioneers of contemporary Japanese lit. And I’ve heard this is his most off the wall book. And Murakami likes him!

A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Conner

Because I saw that Sufjan Stevens has a song about one of the short stories in this collection.

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

Because my girlfriend told me I have to read it if I truly love her.

Join us for Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 30th!

Join us at City Lit Books in celebrating Independent Bookstore Day!  We have events and giveaways all day, culminating in the book release for our very own T. Sean Steele at 5pm!  Our celebration includes:

Special Story Time at 10:30am with Professor Dave Becker

Homemade baked goods made by our booksellers with recipes from some of our favorite cookbooks

Book giveaways all day!

--And for the big finale at 5 PM: Book release event for City Lit bookseller and author: T. Sean Steele! Celebrate the release of his novella, Tacky Goblin, with readings from Halle Butler, author of Jillian, James Tadd Adcox, author of Does Not Love, Sarah Carson, author of the poetry collection, Buick City, and more!

 

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