The idea for Chicago Book Review germinated a few years ago, and—long story short—it took a while to pull it all together: getting the URL, working with publishers to get the first batch of books to review, designing logos, and so on. CBR launched with ten book reviews of new titles from local publishers like Agate Publishing, Allium Press, Lake Claremont Press, Sourcebooks, University of Chicago Press—publishers whose books we continue (and will continue) to review.
During the past two years, we’ve published scores of reviews as well as numerous features, including our “Local Author Spotlight” pieces, which have featured the likes of Susanna Calkins, Robert Hellenga, and Rebecca Makkai. We’ve posted countless literary events going on in city and suburbs. And, we’ve welcomed more than a dozen volunteer reviewers—the folks who share their time, energy, and passion for books and reading so we can review more and more books.
Truly, Chicago Book Review wouldn’t be half of what it is today without the support of our reviewers, local authors, local publishers, and loyal readers. I am really very grateful for everyone who has become part of the CBR community.
And, I’m excited about the future, as we continue to review more books and highlight various aspects of local and regional publishing. Our reviewers are working on the latest batch of books, and still more titles are awaiting review. Publishers and authors continue to share their work with us so we can share our thoughts about those books with you. We like to think of it as a virtuous circle, one that shines a spotlight on local authors, local publishers, and local subject matter.
With hundreds of thousands of books being published every year—and countless blogs and websites and tweets and posts—we know that your time is short and valuable. We hope that our reviews point you in the direction of good books that you might not otherwise discover, to new authors that you might not have heard of, and to new genres that you might not typically explore.
We might not like everything we read—and we’ll tell you if that’s the case—but we strive to be fair and honest, providing reviews that go beyond “I liked the book” or “the characters were interesting” to something a little more meaty, something you can sink your teeth into. Luckily, we’ve reviewed a lot of books we like, and some we really love. Maybe a few clunkers as well, but just because we might not like a book doesn’t mean you won’t. Either way, we continue to encourage you to check out the books coming from local authors and local publishers as well as books that look at local and regional subjects, whether fiction or nonfiction. There’s a lot of good stuff being published, right in your neck of the woods by people who just might live in your neighborhood.
I could go on and on about publishing in general and publishing in Chicago. But I’ll be brief today, and just say this: Chicago is my kind of town, and I couldn’t be happier to be living here among such great people, working in an industry I love in the city I love. And if through Chicago Book Review I’m able to get just one more reader to Read Local, well, then, I’m a happy girl.