Halloween is coming and the spooky season is here, so get in the mood by joining four of Chicago’s creepiest authors for an evening of scary readings, horror movie shorts, and gruesome refreshments!


Thrill to James Kennedy’s Lynchian weirdness in his small-town horror novel Bride of the Tornado—Shiver at Cynthia Pelayo’s occult Chicago underworld in The Shoemaker’s Magician—Learn true Chicago paranormal lore from our city’s foremost ghost historian Adam Selzer—And get lost in the lush and decadent magic of 18th-century Venice in Julia Fine’s Maddalena and the Dark!


The evening will also feature weird short horror movies and sinister refreshments. A perfect way to spend your pre-Halloween Sunday!


JULIA FINE is the author of The Upstairs House, winner of the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, and What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior First Novel. Her third novel, Maddalena and the Dark, came out in June. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her family. https://www.julia-fine.com


ADAM SELZER is an author, historian, and tour guide who writes about dead people, graveyards, and stuff. He used to write YA novels; now he mostly does nonfiction. His latest is Graceland Cemetery: Chicago Stories, Symbols and Secrets, and his most popular is HH Holmes: The True Story of the White City Devil. He reads a lot of old ladies’ diaries and pamphlets in which our founding weirdos challenge each other to duels. https://adamchicago.com/

CYNTHIA PELAYO is a Bram Stoker Award winning and International Latino Book Award winning author and poet. Pelayo writes fairy tales that blend genre and explore concepts of grief, mourning, and cycles of violence. She is the author of LoteriaSanta MuerteThe MissingPoems of My NightInto the Forest and All the Way ThroughChildren of ChicagoCrime SceneThe Shoemaker’s Magician, as well as dozens of standalone short stories and poems. https://cinapelayo.com

JAMES KENNEDY is the author of the new horror thriller Bride of the Tornado. His previous books include the sci-fi novel Dare To Know, which was named by the Times Saturday Review as their Best Sci-Fi Book of 2021, and the YA fantasy The Order of Odd-Fish. James is also the founder of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, an annual video contest in which kid filmmakers create short movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds. He also hosts the Secrets of Story podcast with Matt Bird. https://jameskennedy.com

Global Poetry Event October 27th 5pm


We are co-hosting our second hybrid poetry reading event!


Live performers at the bookstore reading room will alternate with remote poets seen on a large screen using Zoom - 7 local Chicago poets and 8 poets from all over the world – Japan, Greece, Philippines, India, Mexico, Singapore and Canada - will be featured.  Each poet will perform a 5-6 minute set to keep the event to about 2 hours.


The event is free.  More details to come.


September/October Events

September 4th, 2023

“Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a vibrant society. Without it, we are condemned to live in a state of intellectual poverty.” –     Margaret Atwood


In the spring of 2022,  Margaret Atwood’s publisher in the USA – Penguin Random House – partnered with her to create an unburnable copy of her beloved Handmaid’s Tale.

They auctioned it off to benefit the Pen America Foundation.  They had hoped to raise between $50,000 -$100,000.  It sold for $130,000.

Margaret Atwood, like so many authors, has seen her books challenged over and over again in different school and library districts, municipalities, states, and occasionally even by whole countries.

Groups like Pen America, the American Library Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and the ACLU work to defend our right to read.   Supporting any one of these worthy organizations is one way to join the fight.

You can also support authors whose books were challenged in 2022.  Unfortunately, you’ll have plenty to choose from. 

According to the American Library Association, 2,571 different titles were challenged around the country in 2022.  That is the largest number that they have ever recorded for one year.  And it only includes the challenges that were reported to them.

Or, you could read one of the 11,300 titles that have been challenged since 1982.  Again, these numbers don’t include anything that was not reported to the ALA.

If you know any teachers, librarians, or booksellers who have been impacted by all of this, try to show your support for their efforts to keep America reading, and reading freely.

And if you do drop by the bookstore during banned books week, we will have some goodies for you.  More on that below.

But first, a couple of fun events…


September 7th, 2023


A Taste of Iceland in Chicago…


Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid


We are proud to welcome Eliza Reid – First Lady of Iceland –back to the after-words event space at noon on Thursday, September 7th.

Sprakkar is an old Icelandic word that translates to outstanding women.

Based on her internationally bestselling book Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World; Eliza Reid will discuss Iceland's attitude towards gender equality and how working to achieve it benefits everyone in society.

For the past 14 years, Iceland has ranked first in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report of its list of countries closing the gap in equality between men and women. She will share the inspiring secrets of some of the 40 women she interviewed for her book.  She will also discuss what we can all do to improve equality and equity worldwide.  

Copies of the book – both in hardback and paperback – will be available for purchase and signing.


October 4th, 2023

For the first time in a decade, I am thrilled to announce that after-words bookstore will be running an in-store book club!

We will be reading a different book each quarter.  We will then choose an evening to have a meeting to discuss the work in question.

Bookseller, writer, and employee Elizabeth S Tieri has generously offered to form and lead this group for us.  We will be choosing the books with her input, and she will be leading our hour-long quarterly meetings.

So. Drumroll please….

Welcome to…


after-words Banned Books Club


We are launching our book club with the graphic memoir

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

This was the most-challenged book of 2022

 Started as a way to explain to their family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Please join us on Wednesday, October 4th at 7:30pm for our discussion.


October 1st-7th, 2023

Banned Books Week 2023

Let Freedom Read

We will be running in-store specials and doing giveaways all week! 

You can check out our website for more details in the coming weeks.  We will post them as they become available.  But suffice it to say, we will have plenty of goodies to give away and discounts to offer.

And of course, you can shop our banned books display.

Just our way of saying thank you to our customers for helping us to support writers whose works have been challenged, censored, bowdlerized, or banned.



Charity Book Sale May 13th and 14th Noon-6pm


May 13th and May 14th, 2023

Charity Book Sale



Get a bag FULL of books for only $10!

Bring your own, or use one of our bags - available for $5 


after-words book sale to benefit charity is here!


The sale will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.


We’ll be setting up some tables in our event space for you to fill your bags with. For $10 you can fill your own bag. Or you can purchase one from us for an additional $5, but all proceeds go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. 

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, started with one purpose – to nourish neighbors at risk of hunger. And as the needs of those neighbors have evolved, so has the depository.  Their work against hunger has expanded to address the issues that cause food insecurity and poverty.

Their mission is to end hunger.


Supplies are limited.  There are no guarantees on what will be left when you get here.


Come check it out and get your bag full of books!!



May 4th 5:30 pm Family Gap Year by Sheila Maloney

Join us for A Taste of Brazil with Sheila Maloney 

Co-hosted by the Brazilian Cultural Center of Chicago

Presentation With Book Signing to Follow

Family Gap Year: How We Moved to Brazil, Dropped Our Overscheduled Lives, and Created a Sustainable, Happy Future for our Family


 Click below for a free ticket:



Tired of living the exhausting life of modern working moms?


So was Sheila Maloney, a forty-two-year-old lawyer from Chicago with three kids under ten. On paper, everything was great.  She had a loving husband, a career, and a home.


But Sheila was exhausted by her life’s frenetic pace - running to and from practices, meetings, and other back-to-back appointments. Sheila wondered, “Is this life making us happy, or just driving me nuts?” She decided there had to be more, so she packed up her family of five and embarked on a journey to Vitória, Brazil.


In Family Gap Year, Sheila will tell you about their adventure.  She will share what she learned when she stopped listening to what society told her she should do and started listening to what her soul was calling her to do instead.


Sheila’s mom will be providing traditional Brazilian brigadeiros (treats) for the event, with guaranás (Brazilian soft drink) provided by the Brazilian Cultural Center of Chicago 

Independent Bookstore Day! April 29th!


We are set to have the largest Independent Bookstore Day

to date with 1,038 stores participating

 Happy 10th Birthday, IBD!


In celebration, join us by visiting as many local Indies

as you can in one day


Last year’s Indie Bookstore Crawl was so much fun,

your local independent bookselling community

 has booked it for a return engagement!



A few highlights to know, in case you want to participate:


--If we are the first bookstore you make a purchase on that day, Thank You! 


--Please let the person at the counter know that you are participating in the crawl.  You will be provided with a Passport that has a page for each participating store.  Make sure we remember to stamp your passport as well.


--After that, no more purchases are necessary.  You can just visit any of the stores and get a stamp at each one for your passport.  (Though we dare you not to find something to buy if you go to all those wonderful Indies around Chicago in one day).

--If you already have your passport from visiting another great Indie here in the city, awesome.  Just remember to ask us to stamp your passport whether you buy something or not.


That’s it.  If you feel like sharing any of your great experiences from the day, make sure to stop by one or more of the store’s selfie stations. #IndieBookstoreDay    #CHILOVEBOOKS

Good luck and have fun!


Oh, did I forget to mention that we will reward you if you visit a lot of us that day?  Here’s the kicker:

-- If you visit TEN stores on Independent Bookstore Day, then you will get 10% off at all participating bookstores for an ENTIRE YEAR!

-- IF you visit FIFTEEN stores on Independent Bookstore Day, then you will get 15% off at all
participating bookstores for an ENTIRE YEAR


For more information, visit Chilovebooks.com



Even if you don’t want to participate in the Crawl, we have all kinds of goodies to help you celebrate with us. 

Our friends at some of the major publishing houses have come up with specially priced Indie Bookstore Day editions of some of their books.  They have even released some new content and/or signed editions. Here are the books we will be putting on sale on Saturday:


Pure Color by Sheila Heti

Signed paperback, $17

An explicitly mystical book about the creation of art and the creation of the universe.

Here we are, just living in the first draft of Creation, which was made by some great artist, who is now getting ready to tear it apart.

In this first draft of the world, a woman named Mira leaves home to study. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira’s chest like a portal—to what she doesn’t know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and his spirit passes into her. Together, they become a leaf on a tree. But photosynthesis gets boring, and being alive is a problem that cannot be solved, even by a leaf. Eventually, Mira must remember the human world she’s left behind, including Annie, and choose whether to return.


Little People, Big Dreams: Amanda Gorman by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Signed by the author (Bookplate), paperback, $8.99

Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. Told as a story, with a facts and photos section at the back, this sweet series for kids celebrates triumph over adversity through some of history’s favorite characters.

Now with more than 7.5 million copies sold worldwide, the series continues to grow and expand, introducing children around the world to artists, trailblazers, and dreamers who each made a big impact in the world around them.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Exclusive edition with author letter, Hardback, $15.99


A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry to understand her mother's religion and her own relationship to the world in this debut novel by renowned slam poet Acevedo.

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature,

the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award.


Tales of the Weird: An Uncanny Introduction edited by British Library Publishing

Independent Bookstore Day 2023 exclusive, paperback, $4.99


Tales of the Weird brings together a chilling collection of stories from across the entire series, offering a brief insight into the abyssal depths of the British Library archives– with offerings by Eleanor Scott, Robert Aickman, William Hope Hodgson, H.P. Lovecraft, and Vernon Lee, E.F. Benson, and many others.



If you just want to come and support us on Independent Bookstore Day, here are some in -store promotions available only that day that you can take advantage of:


While Supplies Last!


Be one of the first 30 customers to spend $30 or more.

You will receive a bunch of after-words swag:

Store Tote, Store Button, Store Pen

Also, a copy of Climate Change and your Garden: Expert Tips and Information

and an IBD sticker


Spend $60 or more:

You will receive all of the above,

plus a free IBD Tote

and a free copy of Tales of the Weird: An Uncanny Introduction edited by British Library Publishing


Spend $100 or more:

Then we will really load you up.

Store Tote, Store Button, Store Pen

Also, a copy of Climate Change and your Garden: Expert Tips and Information

and an IBD sticker

Your choice of the IBD tote bag or ‘She Chose Fire’ tote bag

a free copy of Tales of the Weird: An Uncanny Introduction edited by British Library Publishing

A free copy of the short story Galatea by Madeline Miller

IBD mug


Remember, we might run out of some of this stuff as the day goes on.  So, the offer is only valid as long as supplies last.