Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bookfest Wrap-Up

First of all, a huge heartfelt thank you to all of the wonderful folks who made it to The 1st Annual Downtown Glen Ellyn Bookfest: A Village Celebrates Books. It takes an unbelievable amount of faith to plan an inaugural event like this, and what can The Bookstore say, but thank you - we did it! And whoever arranged for that beautiful blue sky day in the middle of a stormy week: we owe you.

It took a village to put it together - literally. We had an incredible partnership with The Downtown Alliance, Bundles of Books and the Glen Ellyn Public Library. Rosemary from Bundles of Books first suggested the idea of bringing local authors to downtown retailers through the Downtown Alliance, but The Bookstore and the Library took it even further by planning an entire day's worth of literary events. We hope you got to participate in some of these truly unique events!

My own Bookfest Day began at Bells & Whistles Snackery, where The Bookstore and Bundles of Books hosted a social networking breakfast for writers and readers. Sue and I represented The Bookstore, and met a lot of the participating area authors. We introduced them to our book blogging friend and collaborator, Jen Karsbaek from DevourerofBooks.com, and business cards flew from hand to hand.

Our own in-house event, "Bagels at The Bookstore" started at 10am with the wonderful Pamela Ferdinand, Chicago area co-author of Three Wishes, and continued with Dick Nogaj, the founder of Habitat for Humanity DuPage, and the author of Don't Retire, Get Inspired. The Bookstore buzzed all day with Bookfest excitement.

In the meantime, my colleague Jenny was handling all of the author events over at the library, including a children's event with Glen Ellyn children's book author Bob Raczka and Wheaton author and historian Glenette Tilley Turner. Jenny also handled the Featured Author Event at The Glen Oak Restaurant with 68 Rooms children's author, Marianne Malone. Jenny says it was an awesome event, and assured me "it was everything you hoped it would be!" Families have already marked their calendars for our Family Author Luncheon next year!

While Jenny and Marianne had the kids enthralled, I was hosting an appearance for our Adult Author Luncheon at Bistro Monet. What a wonderful pairing: Stephanie Cowell is the author of a new book, Claude and Camille: A Monet Novel, which is about young Claude Monet and his first wife Camille. Bistro Monet planned a delicious three-course luncheon to match. Stephanie charmed every last guest with her stories about young Claude, whom she compared to the irresistible Johnny Depp. (Which has already got me thinking about movie rights and casting!) We all made a wonderful connection with Stephanie, who honored us with unbelievable praise on her blog, calling it "one of the loveliest book events of my writerly life."

Sue and I were thrilled to have our friend Barbara Rinella, a Chicago area book review celebrity, join us at Bistro Monet. Barbara has a huge following as a performer and book dramatist; her act is part stand-up comedy, part celebrity impersonation and part literary review. Over the years, Chicago area readers have enjoyed her dramatizations of such books as The Commoner, The Life of Pi, Loving Frank, John Adams, Shanghai Girls, The Other Boleyn Girl and many more. I'm not going to make any major announcements on Barbara's behalf, but I'm just saying she could do a real bang-up job personifying Camille Monet. I think she got some great material from our lunch with Stephanie Cowell. Barbara Rinella fans, stay tuned!

After lunch, there was a terrific panel discussion at the library between Melanie Benjamin, Glen Ellyn author of Alice I Have Been and Kelly O'Connor McNees, Chicago area author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I wasn't able to be there (bummer -that's the only downside of being an event organizer - you can't make every event!) but everyone who did told me they did a great job and had a wonderful discussion. What a great team. By the way, did you hear? Kelly's book was selected for Oprah's 2010 Summer Reading List? Woo hoo!

The library also had a series of afternoon events for kids and teens, including storytelling workshops and a Teen Poetry Slam.

In the meantime, much of The Bookstore staff was over at Glenbard West High School, preparing for Elizabeth Berg's appearance and book signing. What a perfect setting for her new book, The Last Time I Saw You, which is about a 40th high school reunion. Elizabeth was warm and funny, as was Charlene Baumbich, one of our favorite local authors who introduced her. One of my favorite parts of every book reading is the Q and A, and Elizabeth Berg is masterful at it. Someone asked her how her early nursing career affected her writing, and her response is still fresh in my mind: she said that nursing taught her "unconditional acceptance" of the patient -- and thinks that ability to empathize with others has made her a better writer. Think about it: Elizabeth's unconditional acceptance of her own characters must be what gives them such honesty and truth. Interesting.
Anyway, for our final Bookfest event of the day (whew!) we got to go enjoy a program called "Get Lit" at Tap House Grill, hosted by area authors Charlene Baumbich and J.A. Konrath. What a great way to unwind from an exciting day! We got to hear all about Charlene's new book that will be released on September 21st: Divine Appointments, the second book in her Snowglobe Series. Fans, stay tuned for more information about her upcoming reading and book signing!

For those of you who came and enjoyed this inaugural event, you'll be happy to know that we're already thinking about next year. We're taking the feedback we've received from authors and participants, and hope to make it even better. For those who missed it, you don't want to miss it again! Pencil in Saturday, June 18, 2011, the week right after Printers Row Litfest. We'll keep you posted through our e-newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.

But first, I'm going to enjoy some good summer reading. Just for the fun of it -- no fancy events involved -- just my book, my front porch and me.


  1. Well, I've failed as a book blogger since I still haven't recapped this (I don't have a SINGLE photo, though!), but I *did* just put it on my calendar for next year.

  2. Loved the event, and I am looking forward to next year too. Great panels and my daughter enjoyed the kids events.
    Thanks so much for all the hard work!


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