Tag Archives: literary

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow …

CBR_Logo2Well, fellow bibliophiles, here we are at the end of 2017 and it’s been a long while since we here at Chicago Book Review have posted a review or shared a feature story. So, it is with a heavy heart that I find it’s time to say au revoir.

Chicago Book Review began as and has always been a labor of love. When I launched the site in 2013, I had no idea what kind of response it would get, but I felt certain that there were a lot of local and regional authors and publishers who could use some help getting their books in front of the eyes of readers. I also felt sure that there were plenty of readers who love Chicago and its environs as much as I do and so would enjoy learning about books written by local authors, published by local houses, and/or written about local subjects.

Turns out I was pretty much right on this one, and Chicago Book Review was lucky enough to reach tens of thousands of readers who discovered hundreds of books and scores of authors—all of which had some sort of local or regional connection.

This success was in large part due to the reviewers I worked with, all of whom were volunteers, and with the authors and publishers who were kind enough to share their books with us. Without their contributions, I never could have made Chicago Book Review what it was, and I will be forever grateful.

But there are only so many hours in a day, and despite the many contributions from CBR’s volunteers, it takes rather a lot of time, energy, and resources to coordinate a book review. And when said book review is a labor of love, well … sometimes you’ve just got to pick which of your loves deserve the most of your labor.

So, as Tolkien wrote, “Your time may come. Do not be too sad. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”

With that, we’ll say au revoir—at least for now. Maybe we should say à bientôt. Either way, it’s not easy, and it makes me sad. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to revive CBR. In the meantime, we’ll keep the site up so you can explore the reviews and features we’ve posted over the past few years and discover new authors … and #ReadLocal.

book love story

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
—A.A. Milne



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CBR’s Top 10 Posts of 2015

CBR_Logo2Dozens of book reviews, a bunch of features, previews of local literary events … it’s been another year of all-books-all-the-time here at Chicago Book Review. Earlier this week, we posted CBR’s Best Books 0f 2015, a great complement to another fabulous list we posted this month: Chicago’s Favorite Books of 2015, a collection of a dozen beloved titles as rated by local literati. Both of these lists, and a few others, quickly proved to be among our readers’ favorite posts of the year.NYE books—photo by Patrick Ryan

With that, we’re looking at CBR’s Top Posts of 2015, a mix of book reviews and features highlighting the local lit scene—authors, publishers, and organizations doing what they do to support and promote Chicago’s literary community.

That community is a strong one, and we’re grateful to the many authors, publishers, readers, and other literary types who help keep us going. We’re especially grateful to the reviewers who keep CBR active, reviewing dozens of books every year. Chicago Book Review is a labor of love, and we couldn’t do it without our reviewers—or without all the books we receive from local publishers and authors. Together we’re able to bring to readers reviews of books they might not otherwise discover—because Chicago Book Review reviews Chicago’s books.

ankerwyckeDuring the year, we’ve again been lucky enough to review books from a variety of local and regional publishers, from indie houses and imprints like Ankerwycke, Chicago Review Press, and Dream of Things to large academic houses such as University of Chicago Press, University of Illinois Press, and University of Wisconsin Press. (You can learn more about local and regional houses by exploring the list over there on the left of your screen.) We’ve highlighted organizations such as Chicago Book Expo and Midwestern Gothic. And we’ve reviewed some great books by local authors such as Mary Kubica, Erik Fassnacht, and Robert M. Marovich.

Middle_West_Logo_hiresWe’re grateful to our fans and friends, too, readers from Chicago and the Midwest, as well as across the United States. We also count among our followers readers from around the world—the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, as well as Colombia, France, Germany, India, and Italy, the way to Croatia, Georgia, Micronesia, Réunion, and Tunisia.

2016 promises to be another year full of great books from local and regional authors and publishers, and we plan to review as many as we can for readers near and far. In the meantime, we close 2015 with a look at the most popular posts of the year, a collection of reviews and features that will give you some great ideas for how to spend those bookstore gift cards you received over the holidays.

CBR’s TOP 10 POSTS OF 2015pieces of my mother 9781492615385

  1. CBR’s Best Books of 2015
  2. Chicago Book Review’s Summer 2015 Preview
  3. Brutally Beautiful
  4. Chicago’s Favorite Books of 2015
  5. CBR’s Fall 2015 Preview
  6. You Shall Uphold Him
  7. Preview: Chicago Book Expo—
    ‘Something for Every Literary Taste’
    Remedies cover
  8. Much More Than Half
  9. War Must Ensue
  10. Doorways to the Domestic Scene


nyeHappy New Year!
—and Happy Reading!


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For #GivingTuesday, #GiveLocal

CBR_Logo2Stomachs full of Thanksgiving leftovers, closets full of Christmas presents, and now it’s time for Giving Tuesday.

First launched in 2012, the day was conceived to kickstart end-of-year charitable donations, many of which are made during this final month of the year. Originally about 1,400 organizations participated. Today, the concept has become so popular that the Giving Tuesday website is slow as molasses, presumably because so many people are looking it up.

Whatever the reason, we’re fully behind the notion of taking a minute to consider the many wonderful charitable organizations that, without help from folks like you and me, would have a difficult, if not impossible, time doing the good they do. There’s no shortage of organizations that need monetary help. Indeed, it can become overwhelming trying to figure out where to give your money.

With that in mind, here at Chicago Book Review we wanted to highlight some of the area’s organizations that focus on books and reading and writing and the like. We can’t hit them all, so we encourage readers to post their comments with a kind word or two about their favorite literary organizations so that others might become familiar with them.2015-Save-the-Date_blue-PROFILE-image-size

The list below represents but a few of the organizations that could use help on Giving Tuesday—and every day. Some have matching programs, so check with your employer to see if that’s a way to make your giving dollars go even further.

  • The American Writers Museum
    Scheduled to open on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in 2017, The American Writers Museum is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is “to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives.” Current plans call for a gallery dedicated to Chicago-area authors.
  • Chicago Book Expo
    Chicago Book Expo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organized by a group of volunteers whose mission is to celebrate Chicago’s vital independent publishing scene. Launched in 2011, the Expo today is held at Columbia College Chicago. This year’s expo featured about 100 vendors and nearly two dozen programs. Hundreds of readers, writers, and bibliophiles attend the free Expo every year.
  • Chicago Literary Hall of Fame
    Founded in 2010 by Don Evans as a project of the Chicago Writers Association, the mission of Chicago Literary Hall of Fame is to honor and preserve Chicago’s great literary heritage through educational programming, awards, exhibits and other special events, particularly its annual induction ceremony (which this year will be held December 5).
  • Chicago Writers Conference
    Chicago Writers Conference is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting Chicago area writers and publishing professionals through conferences, workshops and literary events. NewCity writes that, “Mare Swallow created the Chicago Writers’ Conference after she noticed a lack of opportunity in Chicago for writers to rub shoulders with editors, agents, publishers and other literary professionals.”
  • Guild Literary Complex
    For 25 years, the Guild Literary Complex has been a Chicagobased literary organization presenting and supporting diverse, divergent, and emerging voices through programming that is as dynamic as Chicago itself. Actively working with individuals and organizations from all of Chicago’s many neighborhoods, the Guild seeks to connect seemingly disparate groups and geographies through literature—bringing unexpected writers, programs, and audiences together.
  • Literacy Chicago
    Literacy Chicago, Chicago’s oldest literacy organization, has its roots in two organizations—Literacy Volunteers of Chicago and Literacy Council of Chicago—which came together to address the needs of Chicago adults in the areas of language and literacy. The organization offers a number of programs, including basic literacy, GED preparation, and English as a Second Language.
  • Open Books
    Open Books is a nonprofit social venture that provides literacy experiences for tens of thousands of readers each year through inspiring programs and the creative capitalization of books. Open Books offers instructional programs as well as Book Grant programs, and it delivers thousands of books to schools and nonprofits across Chicagoland. Open Books runs an online store as well as brick-and-mortar shops in West Loop and Pilsen.
  • The Poetry Foundation
    The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is a 501(c)(3)  independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry. It’s home to the Midwest’s only library dedicated exclusively to poetry, which houses a collection of 30,000 volumes, audio and video recordings, and exhibits.
  • Young Chicago Authors
    Young Chicago Authors transforms the lives of young people by cultivating their voices through writing, publication, and performance education. Launched in 1991, YCA has evolved into an arts organization that engages youth in the act of telling their own stories through spoken word, verse and traditional journalism, playwriting, fiction, and many other forms.

There are myriad wonderful organizations across Chicagoland and throughout the Midwest, organizations that promote reading and writing and a love of all things literary. This list represents but a few of them. You can check out some other organizations in that list on the left of your screen. We encourage you to share information about your favorite local literary organization so that today, on #GivingTuesday, everyone can do more to #GiveLocal.

Happy Holidays!

—Kelli Christiansen

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