Upcoming in September!

 September 23rd, 2021

 The fall season is upon us, and with it comes a rush of new releases.  This year, because so many books were delayed due to the pandemic, it is a particularly intense season.

One I want to highlight is by local author and friend of the store James Kennedy.  It is called Dare to Know.   This dark, mind-bending novel posits a company that can predict the exact moment of your death – if you accept the challenge and can pay the price, of course.  Three of us have read this one, and we all loved it.  The author was kind enough to stop by and sign our first editions.

Two others that I really enjoyed were released this summer.  Both historical fiction.

In the first, Naomi Hirahara’s noir thriller Clark and Division, a Japanese-American family is resettled in Chicago after being released from Manzanar, the internment camp that so many Californians were forced into during WWII.   The eldest daughter dies the night before the family is to be re-united, a supposed suicide.  But her family doesn’t buy it.  The atmosphere is beautifully rendered, and it gives a unique look into a community I was simply not aware of here in my hometown – Japanese-Americans who were forcibly relocated to our city in the 1940’s.

The second was written by Francine Prose.  Her writing style is bold and beautiful, so I could probably read her grocery list and be fascinated.  Her latest is called Vixen, and it is the story of a young Jewish man who gets hired at a major New York publishing house in the 1950’s and is tasked with editing a bodice-ripper based on the lives of the recently executed Julius and Esther Rosenberg.  This assignment plunges our hero into a world he never imagined – one filled with deviousness, deceit, and passion.

There are lots more coming:

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Storyteller Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

Renegades Born in the USA by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen

Angela Davis: An Autobiography by Angela Davis (This is a rerelease of her classic book)

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

On Animals by Susan Orlean

This is just a small sampling of the books we will be seeing in the next couple of weeks.  Like a said, a crowded fall.  For me, it is just fun to be thinking about and talking about books again.  So much of the past 18 months has been consumed by pandemic-related issues. 

The other exciting bit of news is that we are cautiously re-launching our event programming next week.

Chicago Fringe Opera Tuesday, September 28th 8pm


Chicago Fringe Opera presents a FREE Spotlight Series concert as part of the Ear Taxi Festival.

The program is inspired by the letter scene in opera, a dramatic device typically employed to express heightened inner emotion or key plot twists.

For FREE Tickets: https://www.chicagofringeopera.com/event/songs-from-letters/

Chicago Fringe Opera is dedicated to presenting innovative vocal works with an emphasis on new and contemporary styles, engaging with the Chicago community through intimate and immersive performance experiences, and fostering and empowering local artists.

Chicago Fringe Opera is at the forefront of producing dynamic contemporary vocal works in the city of Chicago.

Censorship Divides Us, Books Unite Us

Banned Books Week 2021, September 26th- October 2nd

Our front display table this month is devoted to books that have been challenged or banned.  We do this annually to celebrate our freedom to read.  And to remind us that we must remain ever vigilant. 

If you want to read about the books that were challenged and/or banned in libraries, schools, and by government groups around the country in 2020, visit this page on the ALA website.  There, you can download the report of the instances reported to them in the past year.

Access to whatever books we wish to read is not a guarantee.  It is a right we should never take for granted.

In order to celebrate our access to these challenged books, we are running a special for our customers over the course of Banned Books Week.:

Spend $25 or more in the store, get a free pocket Constitution of the USA and a bookstore pin.

Spend $30 or more, get a free ‘Stand Up For Your Right to Read’ t-shirt and a bookstore pin.


Spend $40 or more, we will give you all three in a gift bag.


City on Fire Exhibit Opening October 8, 2021

A rapidly growing city built of wood. A summer-long heat wave. An exhausted and misdirected team of firefighters. Racial, social, and economic tensions bubbling just below the surface. All Chicago needed was a spark.

If you want to read more in depth, about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 may we suggest the following titles:

What Was the Great Chicago Fire? By Janet B. Pascal

The Great Fire by Jim Murphy

The Great Chicago Fire by John Boda

Chicago’s Great Fire by Carl Smith


See more about the exhibit at the Chicago History Museum:





Just want to let you all know that after-words will be closed February 28th and March 1st for our annual inventory.  See you on March 2nd!


Black Lives Matter: A Reading List

The Fire Next Time

by James Baldwin

Written by one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century, this chronicle of a childhood in Harlem helped inspire the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.




The Warmth of Other Suns

by Isabel Wilkerson

The first African American woman to win the Pulitzer prize in journalism, this book is her chronicle of the Great Migration of African Americans from the 1920’s through the 1970’s.





by Eve Ewing

An Afrofuturist poets’ look at the Chicago race riots of 1919 by local author, sociologist and visual artist Eve Ewing.


Chicago Race Riots July 1919

by Carl Sandburg

A contemporary account of the riots by a journalist and poet who reported on them for the Chicago Daily News.  Sandburg offered readers rare insights into the plight of black Americans, whose voices were seldom heard in white publications.



Redlined: a Memoir of Race, Change and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago

by Linda Gartz

The personal story of a white Garfield Park family who owned multiple properties in a “changing” neighborhood.  A window into how racist policies destroy families of all races.





South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation

by Natalie Y Moore

A local resident (and WBEZ’s South Side Bureau reporter) writes a conversational, readable chronicle of her neighborhood in all its beauty and complexity.




Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life

by Eric Klinenberg

I think Kirkus Review said it best:

“Want to cut down on crime? Install a community garden, increase public library funding, and start talking to your neighbors.”

A book about how we can all learn to live together again.


 Between the World and Me 

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The conceit of this brilliant essay is that it is letter from a black father to his son about what it means to be a black man in America.






The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

By Richard Rothstein

Institutional racism and its intersection with segregated housing is the focus of Rothstein’s bestseller.




How to be an Anitracist & Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America

by Ibram X Kendi

Taken together, these two books offer a historical record of how racism developed in America, and an attempt to identify an intellectual space that is beyond the questions of segregation or assimilation – Anti-Racism.


White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

By Robin Diangelo

‘White Fragility’ is a term coined by the author to describe the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.  The book attempts to look for more productive forms of engagement between races.



Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy

by Edward Ball

Demographic estimates suggest that roughly half of white Americans have ties to the Klan through their family histories.  Ball was just brave enough to write a memoir about his.  He even interviewed descendants of the victims of his Klan kinsman.




Live From Death Row

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Dispatches from Death Row, written beautifully and powerfully by a man that some believe is a political prisoner.  Abu-Jamal is no longer a death row inmate – his sentence was commuted to life in prison.




The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michelle Alexander

"We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”  That is the argument Michelle Alexander presents – and proves convincingly - in her essential book.





There is also the writing of black feminists, professors and activists like Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper, Morgan Jenkins, Eve L Ewing, Bell Hooks, Bryan Stevenson, and Angela Y Davis. 

 Both Obamas have written excellent books.

Then there is the poetry of Nate Marshall, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Britteney Black Rose Kapri, Angela Jackson, and Jose Olivarez.Or the great novels of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker.  Or the fantastical fiction of Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin. 

Also, anything by Cornel West is worth reading.

This list could be a lot longer, but these are just some ideas to get you started.


Books That Helped Define 2020

Below, a list of some books that got our attention in the year that was….


2020 Releases:

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

by Suzanne Collins

Return to Panem for the 25th Hunger Games – 50 years prior to the events in the original trilogy.



The Vanishing Half

by Brit Bennett

What is the definition of White in America?  And who decides? 




The Glass Hotel

by Emily St. John Mandel   *Signed Copies Available

Guilt, wealth, and an elaborate Ponzi scheme that fails – as they always eventually do.    



Shakespeare for Squirrels

by Christopher Moore

More of the Bard in farce, as only Christopher Moore can deliver him




The Mirror and the Light

by Hilary Mantel

Finally, the last chapter in the trilogy begun in 2009 with Wolf Hall.




Dearly: New Poems

by Margaret Atwood

In her first poetry collection in more than a decade, Atwood addresses love, loss, the passage of time, and zombies – among many other themes.



The Archer

by Paulo Coelho

A fable about an archery guru, written with Coelho’s usual mix of inspiration and grace.



One Life

by Megan Rapinoe   *Signed Copies Available

A call to arms – using her own life as inspiration – from the admired athlete and social activist.



Pappyland: A Story of Family Fine Bourbon and the Things That Last

by Wright Thompson

Authenticity, family legacy, and the one of the finest - and most sought after – whiskeys in the world. 



Ready Player Two

by Ernest Cline

The sequel to – you guessed it – Ready Player One.  We knew you were smart.





by J.K. Rowling

A warm, fast-paced, funny fairy tale of a fearsome monster, thrilling adventure, and hope against all odds.



Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

by Isabel Wilkerson

A humanitarian call to understand our own social hierarchy here in the United States, which we have ignored to the detriment of us all.



Promised Land

by Barack Obama

The only question is, can he catch up with his wife’s great sales numbers from her book?



Hood Feminism

by Mikki Kendall   *Signed Copies Available

Brilliant, fiery, and powerful, friend of the store Mikki Kendall advocates for the women that the Feminist movement consistently forgets about. 



Solutions and Other Problems

By Allie Brosh   *Signed Copies Available

Laughter through tears – my favorite emotion.  This book delivers it over and over again.  We all love Allie Brosh here.



Breaking Hate

by Christian Picciolini   *Signed Copies Available

Charismatic former white supremacist, local author, and friend of the store Christopher Picciolini provides a roadmap for those looking to leave behind the cycle of hatred and violence.