City Lit's blog

November Book Club Update!

We’ve got two new book clubs on the line-up and plenty of great books coming to all our others for November! Read on for all the great selections our booksellers have made and grab your copies in time for those meetings!

First up is one of the newbies! New bookseller Chris will be hosting Subject to Change: A reading list of Coming-Of-Age Stories and anything that fits or fights the category. Meeting once a month to discuss this literature of becoming. The first meeting will be Thursday, November 1st, with The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee!

From the Nobel Prize-winning author of Waiting for the Barbarians, The Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace, Nobel laureate and two-time Booker Prize winner J.M. Coetzee returns with a haunting and surprising novel about childhood and destiny that is sure to rank with his classic novels. Separated from his mother as a passenger on a boat bound for a new land, David is a boy who is quite literally adrift. The piece of paper explaining his situation is lost, but a fellow passenger, Simón, vows to look after the boy. When the boat docks, David and Simón are issued new names, new birthdays, and virtually a whole new life. Strangers in a strange land, knowing nothing of their surroundings, nor the language or customs, they are determined to find David's mother. Though the boy has no memory of her, Simón is certain he will recognize her at first sight. "But after we find her," David asks, "what are we here for?" An eerie allegorical tale told largely through dialogue, The Childhood of Jesus is a literary feat-a novel of ideas that is also a tender, compelling narrative. Coetzee's many fans will celebrate his return while new readers will find The Childhood of Jesus an intriguing introduction to the work of a true master.

Can’t make it to the first meeting? Grab a copy of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and join Subject to Change for their next book club discussion on Thursday, December 6th! Email chris@citylitbooks.com with any questions about this club.

This month the Graphic Content book club, our reading group exclusively for graphic novels, is reading I, Parrot by Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle! Graphic Content will meet on Tuesday, November 6th.

Typing up positive-thought messages for a self-help guru isn't exactly Daphne's idea of dream job. But to regain custody of her nine-year-old son, she's willing to try. A few weeks later, when that same self-help guru asks her to take care of 100 endangered parrots, Daphne is willing to try that too. What ensues is a hilarious, heartbreaking tragicomedy involving the love of her life, the landlady from hell, three house painters, a flock of passenger pigeons and a super-sized bag of mite-killing powder. With text by acclaimed author Deb Olin Unferth and stunning illustrations by artist Elizabeth Haidle, I, Parrot is not only a poignant, literary graphic novel, but also a portrait of woman who will do anything--no matter how ridiculous or revolutionary--to care for her child and find a to triumph in world where idealists and misfits rarely win.

Next up for Graphic Content: everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun on Monday, December 3rd.

This month’s Wilde Readers book club selection has come highly recommended from a number of trusted sources, so be here Tuesday, November 13th to chat about Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl  by Andrea Lawlor.

It's 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flãneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco--a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure. Andrea Lawlor's debut novel offers a speculative history of early '90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.

For December, Wilde Readers will be reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and meeting to discuss on Tuesday, December 11th. Email matt@citylitbooks.com with any club questions.

Back with another novel destined for classic status, the Instant Classics book club is reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Join Instant Classics for a discussion on Wednesday, November 14th.

A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon, a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals--while her other lover, earnest, faithful, and good, stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and fortuitous events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence we feel "the unbearable lightness of being." A major achievement from one of the world's truly great writers, Milan Kundera's magnificent novel of passion and politics, infidelity and ideas, encompasses the extremes of comedy and tragedy, illuminating all aspects of human existence.

Next month the Instant Classics book club will be reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and discussing the book on Wednesday, December 12. Email clare@citylitbooks.com for questions about Instant Classics.

Diving into another fresh English translation, the Found in Translation book club will be meeting to discuss The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from Serbo-Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth, on Thursday, November 15th.

The Museum of Unconditional Surrender--by the renowned Yugoslavian writer Dubravka Ugresic--begins in the Berlin Zoo, with the contents of Roland the Walrus's stomach displayed beside his pool (Roland died in August, 1961). These objects--a cigarette lighter, lollipop sticks, a beer-bottle opener, etc.--like the fictional pieces of the novel itself, are seemingly random at first, but eventually coalesce, meaningfully and poetically. Written in a variety of literary forms, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender captures the shattered world of a life in exile. Some chapters re-create the daily journal of the narrator's lonely and alienated mother, who shops at the improvised flea-markets in town and longs for her children; another is a dream-like narrative in which a circle of women friends are visited by an angel. There are reflections and accounts of the Holocaust and the Yugoslav Civil War; portraits of European artists; a recipe for Caraway Soup; a moving story of a romantic encounter the narrator has in Lisbon; descriptions of family photographs; memories of the small town in which Ugresic was raised. Addressing the themes of art and history, aging and loss, The Museum is a haunting and an extremely original novel. In the words of the Times Literary Supplement, "it is vivid in its denunciation of destructive forces and in its evocation of what is at stake."

Want a head start on next month’s book? Grab your copy of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch for the Found in Translation meeting on Thursday, December 20th. Email audie@citylitbooks.com for more info about this book club.

To celebrate the current season, W.W.B., our reading group that celebrates women authors, is reading Autumn by Ali Smith. Join W.W.B. for their discussion on Monday, November 19th.

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.

Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.

After that, W.W.B. will be reading History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund and meeting on Monday, December 17th to discuss. For questions, send an email to allison@citylitbooks.com

Though they’ve changed their regularly scheduled meeting time for the season, In Brief, the club that meets to discuss a work of short stories or personal essays from writers both new and established, is still on! With a new title by the author released recently, In Brief is checking out a previous collection of stories by Haruki Murakami: After the Quake!

The six stories in Haruki Murakami's mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami's characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.

An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package--and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in" After the Quake are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.

In Brief will meet again on Monday, December 10th to discuss Tenth of December by George Saunders. …see what we did there?

This month the Weird & Wonderful book club takes on a “luminary of the science-fiction genre,” James Tiptree, Jr’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever collects eighteen brilliant short stories from James Tiptree, Jr. This updated edition is the quintessential Tiptree collection and contains revisions from the author's original notes. Tiptree's fiction reflects the darkly complex world its author inhabited: exploring the alien among us; the unreliability of perception; love, sex, and death; and humanity's place in a vast, cold universe.

Since this is a rather large collection, we’ll be focusing the book club’s discussion on the following stories: The Screwfly Solution, Houston, Houston, Do You Read?, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hillside, and The Women Men Don't See.

Tune in next month for the Weird & Wonderful meeting on Tuesday, December 18th: The Vegetarian by Han Kang!

And last, but certainly not least, our other new book club: Celestial Hobo! Celestial Hobo is poetry for people who don’t usually read it. (Poetry-readers welcome, too! Teach us some stuff that we don’t know.) and will be hosted by Cody on the first Wednesday of each month. Catch the first meeting on Wednesday, December 5th with a discussion of Eye Level: Poems by Jenny Xie.

Jenny Xie's award-winning debut, Eye Level, takes us far and near, to Phnom Penh, Corfu, Hanoi, New York, and elsewhere, as we travel closer and closer to the acutely felt solitude that centers this searching, moving collection. Animated by a restless inner questioning, these poems meditate on the forces that moor the self and set it in motion, from immigration to travel to estranging losses and departures. The sensual worlds here--colors, smells, tastes, and changing landscapes--bring to life questions about the self as seer and the self as seen. As Xie writes, "Me? I'm just here in my traveler's clothes, trying on each passing town for size." Her taut, elusive poems exult in a life simultaneously crowded and quiet, caught in between things and places, and never quite entirely at home. Xie is a poet of extraordinary perception--both to the tangible world and to "all that is untouchable as far as the eye can reach."

For questions about this new book club, email cody@citylitbooks.com.

Remember – no need to sign up for our book clubs, just read up and come ready to discuss. Don’t forget that all our book club selections are 10% off in store! Feel free to email your favorite booksellers with questions about these book clubs, or with recommendations for books to discuss in the future. And don’t forget our book club partnership! If you’re already part of a book club or want to get one started, email matt@citylitbooks.com to find out about getting discounted books and meeting here at City Lit! Happy reading!

Tell us about your favorite bookstore and win tickets to see "The Bookshop"!

England, 1959. Free-spirited widow Florence Green risks everything to open a bookshop in a conservative East Anglian coastal town. While bringing about a surprising cultural awakening through works by Ray Bradbury and Vladimir Nabokov, she earns the polite but ruthless opposition of a local grand dame and the support and affection of a reclusive book loving widower. As Florence's obstacles amass and bear suspicious signs of a local power struggle, she is forced to ask: is there a place for a bookshop in a town that may not want one?

Based on Penelope Fitzgerald's acclaimed novel and directed by Isabel Coixet, starring Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Bill Nighy, The Bookshop is an elegant yet incisive rendering of personal resolve, tested in the battle for the soul of a community. The novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and the film won Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 32nd Goya Awards, so don’t miss your chance to see it!

…This is a film about books, about people who worship books and about people who never feel alone in a bookshop.

Or in a movie theatre.

I hope this is film for you, whoever you are, out there in the dark, craving for connection in the big screen. Craving for a world where underdogs like Florence Green are finally visible and powerful. Things will be so much better then… and so much easier. 
- Isabel Coixet, director/co-writer

To celebrate this movie and bookshops everywhere, we’re giving away two tickets to see the film at Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657)! Share a post about your favorite bookstore, tag them, tag us (Facebook: @citylitbooks, Twitter: @citylit_books, Instagram: @citylitbooks), and use #BookshopsWorthFightingFor to be entered in our giveaway! Tell us why you love your local bookshop before Thursday, August 30th for your chance to see the movie when it begins screening in Chicago next weekend. To see the film trailer, click HERE! For more info about the film and the theater, click HERE! For questions about this promotion, email matt@citylitbooks.com!

 

Join us for the next W.W.B. Book Club Meeting!

Hi! My name is Allison and I am the baby bookseller here at City Lit Books. I say “Baby bookseller” because I have been doing this for the shortest amount of time - not because I only sell books to the tiniest of the humans.

I come to the bookstore by way of the theatre world. Due to inconsistent schedules and moving around so much, I have never been a consistent book club member. I have attended readings, caught a book club here and there at my local bookstore, and discussed countless books with friends – but have never been a true book club member. With no fear of public speaking, I am thrilled to be able to not only be a consistent book club member but actually host my own - the W.W.B Book Club here at City Lit! W.W.B stands for Women Write Books. It is focused on celebrating female authors and their contributions to the literary world. We started out with the fiercely talented Rachel Cusk's Outline.

Outline is about a woman who travels to and around Athens, Greece. She is a guest teacher for a writing class. While she is in town, she takes the time to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. I recently described Cusk's writing style as listening to your Grandparents tell a story. You aren’t necessarily sure where they are going with it, but you are so hooked – it doesn’t matter. She is a fantastic storyteller with a unique writing style.

We discussed her writing style for most of the book club meeting. We dug into how Cusk introduced the character to us – with no “actual” introduction. We learned about each character through the narrator’s eyes, voice, and through the conversation they were having with the narrator. It was if the narrator was telling us, in detail, about each event after it happened, instead of as it was happening.

Sheila Heti’s, How Should a Person Be? is up next. How Should a Person Be? is a journey through an artist’s mind as she tries to come to terms with that very question. Come hangout and chat with the W.W.B. book club on August 20th. This time around, we’ll be discussing Shelia the character versus Shelia the author, her friends and lovers, and why art can be so complicated.

How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781250032447
Availability: Out of stock, usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - June 25th, 2013

City Lit is 6!

City Lit is 6 today.  Since Day One, we have known that it is a privilege to be here every day – surrounded by great books, talking with interesting people, and excited that we have a chance to make a difference in our community.

However, as it takes time for many lovely things in life to mature and come into their own, I believe that it’s taken this long for City Lit to:

  • Assemble Chicago’s best group of booksellers.  Today’s team of Matt, Jordan, Maddie, Audie, Allison, and Clare bring remarkable energy and commitment to City Lit every day.
  • Become a destination for touring and local authors.
  • Be that spot for sharing the latest favorite book, political concerns and even flowers from the Farmers Market.
  • Be a place for kids to come running into and exclaiming, “I love the bookstore!”

Thanks to everyone who has supported City Lit for these six lovely years.  You have filled each and every day with amazing and wonderful experiences.  We are looking forward to the opportunities and experiences to come!

August Book Club Update!

Another month, another book (or 8) to check off your reading list! Once again, our book club lineup is a great mix of choices for just about any summer reading you might want; from light-hearted and humorous to dark and chilling, a dip into the “classics,” with some modern twists, a little nostalgia for bygone summers, and musings from a few of our favorite writers – just the way we like it. You know it’s a good mix of books when the City Lit staff can’t get any other reading done on account of being roped into each other’s book club picks. It’s always exciting for us to find a new book outside of our regular reading habits, so we hope you’ll try something new this month and drop in on one of our book club meetings!

Time for another well-loved book on its way to classic status! This month’s selection for the Instant Classics book club is a winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson!

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.

Be here Monday, August 8th at 6:30 pm to chat with Maddie and the Instant Classics book club, or join us next month for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie!

Nothing beats the way summer feels when you’re a kid, but this month the Graphic Content book club is trying to recapture the feeling of those easy days in the sun. Check out this graphic novel about crossing from childhood to adolescence: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki!

Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It's her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It's a summer of secrets and heartache, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Join Jordan and the Graphic Content book club on Monday, August 13th at 6:30 pm! Next month we’ll be reading Why Art? by Eleanor Davis!

It’s back to the ‘classics’ for the Wilde Readers book club this month. We’re reading The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal!

A literary cause célèbre when first published more than fifty years ago, Gore Vidal's now-classic The City and the Pillar stands as a landmark novel of the gay experience. Jim, a handsome, all-American athlete, has always been shy around girls. But when he and his best friend, Bob, partake in "awful kid stuff," the experience forms Jim's ideal of spiritual completion. Defying his parents' expectations, Jim strikes out on his own, hoping to find Bob and rekindle their amorous friendship. Along the way he struggles with what he feels is his unique bond with Bob and with his persistent attraction to other men. Upon finally encountering Bob years later, the force of his hopes for a life together leads to a devastating climax. The first novel of its kind to appear on the American literary landscape, The City and the Pillar remains a forthright and uncompromising portrayal of sexual relationships between men.

Wilde Readers will meet on Tuesday, August 14th at 6:30 pm! In September, we’ll meet to talk about the recent Pulitzer Prize winner Less by Andrew Sean Greer!

Next up for the Found in Translation book club is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson!

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a moving, funny, atmospheric novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us. We are in an elegant hôtel particulier in the center of Paris. Renée, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood. But Renée has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants--her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth. Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her.

Hang out with Audie and the Found in Translation book club on Thursday, August 16th! Little Beast by Julie Demers, translated by Rhonda Mullins, is up next!

Our newest book club is back for its second meeting! This month W.W.B. will meet to discuss How Should a Person Be? By Sheila Heti!

Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create in a raw, startling, genre-defying novel of friendship, sex, and love in the new millennium. By turns loved and reviled upon its U.S. publication, Sheila Heti's "breakthrough novel" (Chris Kraus, Los Angeles Review of Books) is an unabashedly honest and hilarious tour through the unknowable pieces of one woman's heart and mind. Part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part vivid exploration of the artistic and sexual impulse, How Should a Person Be? earned Heti comparisons to Henry Miller, Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, and Flaubert, while shocking and exciting readers with its raw, urgent depiction of female friendship and of the shape of our lives now. Irreverent, brilliant, and completely original, Heti challenges, questions, frustrates, and entertains in equal measure. With urgency and candor she asks: What is the most noble way to love? What kind of person should you be?

Join Allison and the W.W.B. book club on Monday, August 20th at 6:30 pm! Next month, come by for one of Allison’s favorites: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson!

It’s weird! It’s wonderful! It’s our monthly celebration of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or any genre otherwise strange – the Weird & Wonderful book club! This month we’re reading The Devourers by Indra Das!

On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man's unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger's behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins. From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman--and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok's interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent. Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

Hang out with the Weird & Wonderful book club Wednesday, August 22nd! Come back next month for There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya!

This month our club for non-fiction and current events, the Tell Me How It Ends book club, is reading a shop favorite, Eula Biss and On Immunity!

Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear-fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world. In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected-our bodies and our fates.

Tell Me How It Ends will meet Monday, August 27th at 6:30 pm, and next month we’ll be reading They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib!

With David Sedaris’ latest (and maybe best) book out this summer, we’re taking it back to one of his earlier collections! This month the In Brief book club is reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris!

From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler's experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist's shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

Meet with Matty and the In Brief book club on Tuesday, August 28th at 6:30 pm! For September, grab a copy of Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore!

And don’t forget the ongoing Lit & Luz Book Club with MAKE Literary Productions! There are three chances to meet in the month of August for a discussion about Julian Herbert’s Tomb Song!

August 8, 2018 – Read/Write Library, 914 N. California
August 15, 2018 – Instituto Cervantes, 31 W Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60654
August 22, 2018 – ACRE, 1345 W. 19th Street

Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Julián spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next. Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Julián tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction. Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Julián Herbert's English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.

We’ve got the book here, pick it up and head to any of this month’s meetings before meeting author at the Lit & Luz Festival in October!

Remember – no sign up necessary for our book clubs! Just grab a copy of the book, get it here for a discount, and drop in for the meeting! Happy reading!

Summer Reading continues with our July book clubs!

Keeping up with your summer reading? The days are long, and our “to be read” lists are longer… but we like it that way. Whether you’re on your way to the beach or scrambling for a seat close to the air conditioner, our book clubs have lots of great book choices for you this summer!

First up, Graphic Content! Our book club for graphic novel lovers is reading My Favorite Thing is Monsters for our July meeting, and if you haven’t read this yet – you want to. Created by little known Chicago native, Emil Ferris, this wild story was nominated for a bunch of awards and widely considered one of the best comics of 2017.

Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late 1960s Chicago and narrated by 10-year-old Karen Reyes, Monsters is told through a fictional graphic diary employing the iconography of B-movie horror imagery and pulp monster magazines. As the precocious Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her beautiful and enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor, we watch the interconnected and fascinating stories of those around her unfold.

While we eagerly await the second volume, come chat with Jordan and the Graphic Content book club Monday, July 9th at 6:30 pm!

For those of you involved in a recent meeting mix up for the Wilde Readers book club (I am still so sorry!), here’s a second chance to chat about one of our favorite book club books so far this year! Disoriental by Négar Djavadi is a phenomenal feat of storytelling, and I can’t wait to chat about it.

Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France. Now twenty-five and facing the future she has built for herself as well as the prospect of a new generation, Kimiâ is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which come to her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. In the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic, generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazemolmolk, with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her parents, Darius and Sara, stalwart opponents of each regime that befalls them. In this high-spirited, kaleidoscopic story, key moments of Iranian history, politics, and culture punctuate stories of family drama and triumph. Yet it is Kimiâ herself––punk-rock aficionado, storyteller extraordinaire, a Scheherazade of our time, and above all a modern woman divided between family traditions and her own “disorientalization”––who forms the heart of this bestselling and beloved novel.

Wilde Readers meets for Disoriental on Tuesday, July 10th at 6:30 pm!

Next is another meeting to discuss an award-winning-best-selling-much-loved novel with Instant Classics! This month's pick is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, the 1992 bestseller and winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The first volume in McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.

Come chat about All the Pretty Horses with Maddie and Instant Classics book club on Wednesday, July 11th at 6:30 pm!

Our newest book club will have its first meeting this month! Join Allison and W.W.B. (Women Write Books!), our reading group that celebrates women authors in both classic and contemporary works! We’re kicking off this new book club with recent staff favorite: Outline by Rachel Cusk!

A Finalist for the Folio Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and One of The New York Times' Top Ten Books of the Year, Named a A New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, Vogue, NPR, The Guardian, The Independent, Glamour, and The Globe and Mail!

Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

W.W.B. will meet Monday, July 16th at 6:30 pm!

Our Found in Translation book club is embarking on a summer of French translations with The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor.

When Myriam decides to return to work as a lawyer after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their son and daughter. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family's chic Paris apartment, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Building tension with every page, The Perfect Nanny is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, motherhood, and madness--and the American debut of an immensely talented writer.

Hang out with Audie and the Found in Translation book club on Thursday, July 19th at 6:30 pm.

While the gun control debate continues, our own Tell Me How It Ends book club turns to a recently published history of gun culture in the U.S.: Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

With President Trump suggesting that teachers arm themselves, with the NRA portrayed as a group of "patriots" helping to Make America Great Again, with high school students across the country demanding a solution to the crisis, everyone in America needs to engage in the discussion about our future with an informed, historical perspective on the role of guns in our society. America is at a critical turning point. What is the future for our children? Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, is a deeply researched--and deeply disturbing--history of guns and gun laws in the United States, from the original colonization of the country to the present. As historian and educator Dunbar-Ortiz explains, in order to understand the current obstacles to gun control, we must understand the history of U.S. guns, from their role in the "settling of America" and the early formation of the new nation, and continuing up to the present.

Join what will surely be a lively discussion with Jordan and the Tell Me How It Ends book club on Monday, July 23rd at 6:30 pm.

In celebration of a new collection of stories by Lauren Groff, our In Brief book club is going back to one of her earlier books, Delicate Edible Birds!

From Lauren Groff, author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling novel Fates and Furies, comes Delicate Edible Birds, one of the most striking short fiction debuts in years. Here are nine stories of astonishing insight and variety, each revealing a resonant drama within the life of a twentieth-century American woman. In some of these stories, enormous changes happen in an instant. In others, transformations occur across a lifetime--or several lifetimes. Throughout the collection, Groff displays particular and vivid preoccupations. Crime is a motif--sex crimes, a possible murder, crimes of the heart. Love troubles recur; they're in every story--love in alcoholism, in adultery, in a flood, even in the great flu epidemic of 1918. Some of the love has depths, which are understood too late; some of the love is shallow, and also understood too late. And mastery is a theme--Groff's women swim and baton twirl, become poets, or try and try again to achieve the inner strength to exercise personal freedom. Overall, these stories announce a notable new literary master. Dazzlingly original and confident, Delicate Edible Birds further solidifies Groff's reputation as one of the foremost talents of her generation.

Come hang out with Matty and our club for short story lovers on Tuesday, July 24th at 6:30 pm!

This month our Weird & Wonderful book club is exploring a new world again, this time with the Hugo Award Nominated Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson!

In 1912, history was changed by the Miracle, when the old world of Europe was replaced by Darwinia, a strange land of nightmarish jungle and antediluvian monsters. To some, the Miracle was an act of divine retribution; to others, it is an opportunity to carve out a new empire. Leaving an America now ruled by religious fundamentalists, young Guilford Law travels to Darwinia on a mission of discovery that will take him further than he can possibly imagine...to a shattering revelation about mankind's destiny in the universe. Robert Charles Wilson has crafted a brilliant science fiction novel--a view of an utterly different 20th century.

Join the party and get weird on Wednesday, July 25th at 6:30 pm!

And now a special shout out to our friends at MAKE Literary Productions and their Lit & Luz Book Club!

The Lit & Luz Book Club/Club de lectura was created and organized by Community & Literary Arts Coordinator Miguel Jiménez as an opportunity for Chicagoans to read and discuss some of today's most exciting contemporary Mexican authors in both Spanish and English. The selected texts are from authors headlining the 2018 Lit & Luz Festival, providing an opportunity in October for members to meet with and hear from the authors directly. First up for the Lit & Luz book club is Tomb Song by Julian Herbert!

Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Julián spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next. Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Julián tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction. Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Julián Herbert's English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.

Books are available with our regular book club discount here at City Lit Books, and there are three gatherings planned for book discussion, take your pick!

August 8, 2018 – Read/Write Library, 914 N. California
August 15, 2018 – Instituto Cervantes, 31 W Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60654
August 22, 2018 – ACRE, 1345 W. 19th Street

As always, remember that you can drop into our book clubs anytime – no sign up needed – and all of our book club choices are sold at a discount!

Independent Bookstore Day!

Independent Bookstore Day is almost here! It’s a day to celebrate your neighborhood bookstore, your favorite place to find a new book. Indie Bookstore Day was started just a few years ago to recognize the important place that these stores hold in their communities. Amidst the discussion of these physical spaces in an industry dominated by online outlets, the necessity for spaces where people can go to meet real people, to share passions, to exchange ideas, is commemorated each year by a day at the end of April.

We get it. Its 2018 and none of us want to live completely offline. The internet is great for a lot of things, like reading this blog post, but we believe it isn’t the right place for finding books. The internet can ship a book to you at home, but so can your neighborhood store. The internet can “recommend” books to you, but no algorithm can beat the thoughtful suggestions of people who actually read the books and share your interests. The internet may automatically log your username and credit card information, but it can never recognize you as you walk in the door. It can’t ask what you thought of your last read. It can’t join you in a book club discussion. The internet can’t host your favorite author for a reading or give you a chance to hear your own work read aloud. How often does the internet read from picture books to your kids or surprise you with an afternoon wandering through the shelves?

So this Saturday we celebrate all the things that the internet can’t do, but that we do every day. If you aren’t familiar, you should come meet us! In fact, there’s a great way to meet all the options you have in the Chicago area. For the second year the Chicago Bookstore Alliance, ChiBA for short, is sponsoring the #MyChicagoBookstore Challenge, a book crawl of sorts for readers that want to get a discount on books for a year! Check out our event for more info about the challenge, and everything else we have planned for the day.

So here’s your invitation to spend Independent Bookstore Day by visiting City Lit Books and all the other great bookshops around Chicago! See you this weekend!

February Book Club Update!

Here’s our book club line-up for February! It may not be Valentine’s Day yet, but we’ve fallen in love with this new batch of books - from novels to celebrate Black History Month, to much-loved bestsellers and prize winners, and even recent favorites! We hope you’ll love these books and join us to chat about them, too!

Graphic Content is our reading group exclusively for graphic novels and comics, and this month the club is reading March: Book 1 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. It’s the first volume in an awesome graphic novel trilogy based on the life of John Lewis, congressman from Georgia and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement:

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon and key figure of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president. Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.

March was the first graphic novel to win the National Book Award, and the first to be written by a member of the US Congress. We’re happy to be reading this during Black History Month, so Join Jordan and the Graphic Content book club on Monday, February 12th at 6:30 pm!

Happy Birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker – she turns 74 on February 9th! To celebrate her birthday and Black History Month, Wilde Readers, our reading group focusing on LGBTQ+ lit, has chosen The Color Purple:

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters--one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South--who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

Come celebrate the legendary Alice Walker and chat about her incredible novel with Wilde Readers on Tuesday, February 13th at 6:30 pm!

Another bestseller and award winner – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is next for our Instant Classics book club:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a triumph of originality, imagination, and storytelling, an exuberant, irresistible novel that begins in New York City in 1939. A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink. Spanning continents and eras, this superb book by one of America's finest writers remains one of the defining novels of our modern American age.

Join Maddie and the Instant Classics book club to talk about why we love Michael Chabon on Wednesday, February 14th at 6:30 pm!

This month's Found in Translation book club pick is Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Lucy North:

Three young women experience unsettling loss and romance in these three haunting and lyrical stories, from one of the most highly regarded and provocative contemporary Japanese writers, winner of The Akutagawa Prize.

In a dreamlike adventure, one woman travels through an apparently unending night with a porcelain girlfriend, mist-monsters and villainous monkeys; a sister mourns her invisible brother whom only she can still see, while the rest of her family welcome his would-be wife into their home; and an accident with a snake leads a shop girl to discover the snake-families everyone else seems to be concealing. Sensual, yearning, and filled with the tricks of memory and grief, Record of a Night Too Brief is an atmospheric trio of unforgettable tales.This volume includes the three stories "Tread on a Snake," "Missing," and "Record of a Night Too Brief" which together won the Akutagawa Prize in 1996. Filled with fantastically multicoloured images and unexplained collapses in time and place, these highly surreal, meticulously worked stories of longing and disappearance, love and loathing are the work of an enormously talented writer at the top of her game.

Hang out with Devon and the Found In Translation book club on Thursday, February 15th at 6:30 pm!

Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein is our Tell Me How It Ends book club pick for February:

This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts down--but it's not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation's oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America's biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it's so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.

Jordan and the Tell Me How It Ends book club will meet on Monday, February 26th at 6:30 pm!

A recent favorite in our bookstore, as well as everywhere else, we’re reading Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado for our In Brief book club this month:

Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction! In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.

In Brief will meet Tuesday, February 27th at 6:30 pm, so join Matty to talk about one of his favorite books of the last year!

And finally, our longest running book club love affair – Weird & Wonderful! This month the club is reading The City & The City by China Mieville:

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times, and Publishers Weekly! When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlu must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlu is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Join our monthly celebration of the weird on Wednesday, February 28th at 6:30 pm!

That’s what our book clubs are reading this month! Don’t forget that all of our book club choices get a discount in the store and there’s no need to sign up – just grab a book and come chat with us. And if you are already part of a book club or starting one, you can be a Book Club Partner here at City Lit Books! We can help you find your book club’s next read, and make sure we have plenty in stock for all your members. Our Book Club Partners receive the same discount on books as those hosted by our booksellers, and if you need a place to meet we can host you in our bookstore, too. Email matt@citylitbooks.com with questions. Happy reading!

Introducing ... Audiobooks!

We're excited to announce our partnership with Libro.fm!

Have you ever wished you could listen to audiobooks while supporting your favorite Logan Square bookstore?! We have good news: Audiobook memberships are now available at City Lit! 

Here's how it works: Powered by our audiobook partner Libro.fm, your first month is $0.99 and then $14.99 per month. The monthly fee equates to one audiobook credit which you can use at anytime, for any of the 70,000+ audiobooks available on our Libro.fm site. You can easily listen on any device (phone, tablet, PC) as all Libro.fm audiobooks are DRM-free.

Join Now!

How to get started:

  1. Visit libro.fm/citylitbooks, select your first book to purchase (a la carte or through the Libro.fm membership), and follow steps to create an account.

  2. After your purchase, you'll receive a confirmation email with instructions to download the iOS or Android App, for easy listening on your mobile device.

  3. Start listening. Sign into the app and download your book(s) to your device.

City Lit's recommended playlists: 

The Indie Next List
The Indie Next List, drawn from bookseller-recommended favorite handsells, epitomizes the heart and soul of passionate bookselling.

 

The New York Times Best Sellers
NYT bestsellers in fiction, nonfiction, and selections from advice, how-to, and miscellaneous.

 

Odyssey Award Audiobooks
An award for the best audiobooks produced for children and/or young adults available in English in the United States.

Pages