Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October is Chicago Area Writers Month at The Bookstore

Welcome to our month long celebration of Chicago area writers. Throughout the month of October, The Bookstore and its blogging partner Jen Karsbaek ("Devourer of Books") will feature book reviews, author events, book discussions and guest posts with Chicago area authors.

Together, we will be reviewing new books by debut authors, new releases by some of Chicago's well known authors, as well as some of our old favorites by Chicago literary heroes. In addition, The Bookstore be celebrating the introduction of its new Chicago Area Author Shelf, which will include these books as well as many other Chicago notables.

We hope you can join us for our various Chicago Area Writers events in October. The first is on Thursday, October 14th at 7pm with native Chicagoan John McNally. McNally is the author of Ghosts of Chicago (a Chicagoland Indie Bestseller, 2008), After The Workshop (Indie Next Pick and Bookstore Staff Pick 2010), the Creative Writers Survival Guide and more. McNally will talk about his books and give advice to aspiring writers from his guide book. Free wine and cheese with the purchase of at least one of his books. Please call (630) 469-2891 or e-mail to register.

There is a Halloween Open House event for families planned on Saturday, October 16th from 2-5pm, featuring Glen Ellynite J.D. Gordon, author of Kritterkreep, a spooky middle grade/junior high school level Halloween story set right in Glen Ellyn. The open house will include free candy, silly bandz, coloring pages and raffles. Anyone who purchases a copy of Gordon's book will be invited to join in free pumpkin painting. Pumpkins may be purchased outside The Bookstore (proceeds going to St. Mark's DuPage PADS Pumpkin Patch fund) or at St. Mark's. For every book purchased, Gordon will donate $2 back to St. Mark's Pumpkin Patch. Support your local bookstore, a local author, and the local homeless all at the same time.

Finally, mark your calendars for Thursday, October 28th at 7pm for a Chicago Author Night Party at The Bookstore. Area readers and writers are invited to share wine and cheese, and enjoy a book discussion with area authors, including Kevin Guilfoile and Joelle Charbonneau. Kevin is from LaGrange, and is the author of the hot new thriller set in Chicago, The Thousand. Joelle is the debut author of the fun, sexy mystery, Skating Around the Law.

In the meantime, stay tuned to The Bookstore's and Devourer of Books' blogs for more news about our exciting line-up of events and reviews. And stop in to check out our new Chicago Area Author Shelf at The Bookstore. Local authors interested in getting their book on our new bookshelf should come introduce themselves at our events!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meet Our Book Blogging Partner, "Devourer of Books"

Over the last year, we've been partnering with Jen Karsbaek, an area book blogger known as "Devourer of Books." Maybe you've met her at some of our author events and parties, or seen her book blogger bookmarks inside her favorite books at the store, but here's a chance to get to know her better.

Jen is a 20-something wife and mom to an adorable little boy named Daniel (seen in the photo "reading" Pat the Bunny). She's a former history major who grew up in California, but came to Chicago to teach in the inner city with Teach for America. She currently lives in Palatine.

This gal can read! The folks at The Bookstore read a lot, but even we're no match for Jen. She has a passion for reading and a depth of knowledge that spills out in every conversation -- no wonder we're such good friends! We rely on her to give us a heads-up about books she's loved, authors to watch and publishers to meet. In turn, she spreads the good word about independent bookstores. Once she even came to The Bookstore as "Bookseller For A Day," which she found "exhausting but fun." We recently sat down and had a chat.

Margie: How and when did you ever get the crazy idea to be a book blogger?

Jen: I first heard that there were people who wrote about books on the internet from a thread on Library Thing and I basically thought "Hey, I love to read! I have opinions! Everyone in my real life is sick of hearing them all the time, maybe the internet would be interested!" This was January of 2008, and I started my blog in February of that year, after poking around a bit to see what people were doing.

Margie: How many books can you devour in a good week? A bad week?

Jen: Last week was a good week and I finished six books, but that is a bit misleading because I had two books I'd been working on and had almost finished at the beginning of the week. One was also an audiobook -- and one was "Mockingjay," which I stayed up late to read. I don't think I can read much more than that in a week. A bad week I'll finish two to three books and one of those will definitely be an audiobook. I consider a month 'good' if I read eighteen or more books, generally.

Margie: How do you manage to get so much reading done with a one year-old? Any tips? Mothers will want to know!

Jen: My number one tip is to have a book with you at all times. Daniel has a habit of falling asleep in the car from time to time, and that is prime reading time. I always make sure I have a book in my purse I can pull out. I make time to read: I'll do it instead of turning on the TV, and I'll often choose to settle down with my book after he goes to bed instead of picking up his toys. He's just going to get them out tomorrow anyway, and I'd rather get some reading time in than have a clean floor for ten hours overnight. Also, audiobooks! I have about a 40 minute commute each way to work, that used to be wasted reading time, but now I grab an audiobook and that's an extra book per week that I can read. Plus when I do break down and clean everything up, I throw in my audiobook to make it a more pleasurable experience.

Margie: What has been your biggest discovery you've made while book blogging?

Jen: The magic of publishing houses and their imprints! Finding an editor/imprint that you love is like finding an author you love, only much more prolific. Some of my favorites are Amy Einhorn Books, Harper Perennial, Algonquin Books, and Unbridled Books. I am also discovering W.W. Norton at the moment. Before blogging I never paid attention to who published the books I was reading, and I was really missing out.

Margie: What are your top 3 (or so) books that you've read since you started blogging, if possible?

Jen: Not even possible, I don't think. I've read too many great ones. Some of my top reads of the last few months have been Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst, Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman, and The City and The City by China Meiville.

Margie: And of course, what about Daniel's favorite books?

Jen: Babies Nose to Babies Toes is his number one, he's loved it since he was 3 months old and still does at 14 months. He had a deep and abiding love for Pat the Bunny, but not quite so much anymore. Lately he has been enjoying Just Like Daddy, The Very Busy Spider, and The Baby Bathtime Book. Also, his entire room is decorated in The Very Hungry Caterpillar decor.

Margie: I guess I'll let you go, I'm sure I'm holding you up from a really good book right now! Thanks for sharing.

Jen and The Bookstore are planning to collaborate on a special Chicago Literature Month in October. For more information, go to Jen's blog. We're planning reviews of a wide variety of Chicago area authors, including John McNally, Kevin Guilfoile, Sara Paretsky, Charlene Baumbich, Joelle Charbonneau, Laura Caldwell and more. Stay tuned for news about two very special Chicago Author Events at The Bookstore in October!