Every year, thousands of book industry insiders converge for Book Expo America, the publishing trade show to discover what’s trending in the land of literature; it’s a place to mingle with authors, colleagues, and vendors. The change of location from New York’s Javits Center to Chicago’s McCormick Place lent a new vibrancy to the show, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary. It also gave me the opportunity to discover that Chicago really is my kind of town.
Maybe it was the incredible architecture: turn a corner and there is one incredible building after another. Maybe it was the river that winds its way through the center of town, making its way to the formidable Lake Michigan. Or, maybe it was just the plain, simple fact that it was so much cleaner than the love of my life, New York. The opportunity to indulge in my passion for the publishing industry, combined with pockets of time to sightsee, I was determined to have it all. Arriving midday and mid-week, my adventure began with an author dinner, sponsored by the American Association of Publishers and LibraryReads and included George Saunders, Terry McMillan, Maria Semple, Glennon Doyle Melton, Abby Wambach, and Paul Krueger at the Palmer House, one of the top historic hotels in the country. Flanked by a pair of ornate peacock doors, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and weighing half a ton (according to a nearby plaque), the Palmer House was quite a lavish introduction to the architectural and design diversity that is a constant in Chicago.
I was thrilled to discover the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. If you’re as unfamiliar as I was with the fountain, imagine stumbling across two opposing 50-foot glass block pillars, each featuring a face projected upon it and at each end of a reflecting pool. Every now and then, the face moves, and water will appear to be spouting from the mouth. This is one instance I was glad for my ignorance because happening upon something as vibrant and wondrous as this art installation on a beautiful night was completely unexpected.
Work did prevail with an author breakfast featuring Colson Whitehead (UNDERGROUND RAILROAD), Louise Penny (A GREAT RECKONING), and Sebastian Junger (TRIBE: On Homecoming and Belonging); a lunch featuring Princeton University graduate Jodi Picoult (SMALL GREAT THINGS), Fredrik Backman (BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE), Nicole Dennis Benn (HERE COMES THE SUN), Sam Maggs (WONDER WOMEN: 25 Innovators, Inventors and Trailblazers Who Changed History), Gayle Forman (LEAVE ME), and Noah Hawley (BEFORE THE FALL); and many hours exploring the exhibit floor, discovering even more books that we can all look forward to seeing on the library’s shelves within the year. Liane Moriarty’s latest, TRULY MADLY GUILTY, and Ruth Ware’s creepy THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 should be here in July, just in time for your summer vacation.
And, if you’re still wondering where to go for a reprieve this summer, I can think of one town that may very well deserve your attention. Museums, skyscrapers with unbelievable views, rooftop pools, beaches are just a few things to check out. Visit our travel section on the first floor to pick up some guidebooks and start planning.
Photo courtesy of the author.
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