Saturday, June 03, 2006

a fest for book nerds

It finally felt like summer today. The warm temperatures, the trip to the beach, the outdoor dining and drinking - none of these had gotten me in the mood for summertime. But earlier this week I made plans with myself to attend the Printers Row Book Fair today and had a beautiful, sunny, book-filled afternoon.

Printers Row, at the northern tip of the South Loop, was filled with large tents of books: new, used, expensive, cheap, rare, popular, hardcover, paperback. Booksellers from across the city and state set up in the streets and on the sidewalks. There were stages set up in the center and southern end of the fair for author readings. Book lovers like me crowded into the tents, hovering over the books. Often the lines were two or three deep just to get up to the bookshelves. I found myself standing on tiptoe to see the titles, occasionally reaching out my hand for something I liked. I bought one used book, a $4 copy of Empire Falls. Unlike many of the other book nerds, I wasn't there to scour the racks for books. I didn't really have the patience. My trip was planned around the readings.

I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite writers read for the first time. Augusten Burroughs's reading was at 2:30. For me (and for other readers/writers like me), readings are like the red carpet of the literary world. It's your chance to see your favorite author up close, maybe even have some Q&A or dialogue with the mind you so admire. I arrived more than early enough to peek through the fair and get a prime spot for the reading. I ended up sitting on the ground right in front of the stage where the tall and lanky Burroughs read a story from (I assume) his new book. He talked about the show he's writing for Showtime, the film adaptation of Running With Scissors, and James Frey. He was funny and he reminded me that I should be writing everyday. Easier said than done.

After four hours of weaving through the crowd, I left with a red CSPAN Book TV bag containing my signed copy of RWS, my signed copy of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (I missed the Dave Eggers reading, but made it to the signing), my new used book, and a 1972 New Yorker cover suitable for framing. And now, worn out and full from veggie enchiladas, I'm enjoying summer from my couch.

1 comment:

Ripe for Reading said...

Sounds like fun!

It's been rainy in Boston the past few days (read: entire weekend) and I'm jealous we didn't have something like the book fair going on here--and the nice weather!

I've only been to Chicago once and that was several years ago. I do remember going to Printers Row; we hit a bookstore and cafe (I think)around there.

Have a good rest of your weekend!