My reaction the first time I went to Printers Row Lit Fest two years ago was: 1. Holy moly, that’s a lot of books, and 2. How did I not know about this before?
My parents took me to Printers Row Lit Fest shortly after my college graduation. As if I didn’t come home with enough books, this ended up being an overwhelming experience for me because I wanted to buy ALL the books. It was my literary heaven-on-earth so incredibly close to home. Local universities, university presses, independent bookstores, used bookstores, writing groups, literacy programs, authors and many more come together the second weekend in June to celebrate literacy and literature. Both local and well-known authors are asked to speak and do book signings at various venues around the area too. There’s also a “Little Lit” stage area for the tiny humans too.
I’ll be honest, I was a little disappointed when I found out I wasn’t able to go last year because I would be doing this:
But I got over it pretty quickly.
This year, however, since I knew I wasn’t flying oversees, I made plans to go no matter what. That’s why three weeks ago, I hopped on the Metra train and headed downtown. It was a bit of an overcast that day, plus there was a Cubs game, so it seemed like a lot of people were either indoors or in Wrigleyville; regardless, it wasn’t that crowded at Printers Row when I arrived. Then again, I was there by noon. On a Sunday.
By mid-afternoon, a larger crowd formed and I was having a hard time wedging my way to the tables. For a short person, this is a big deal, since usually I’m able to weave my way through crowds quite easily. Alas, when it comes to books, everyone is defensive. I had made plans with my friend Bethel to meet her at the fest, however, I wanted to make sure I had time to browse alone. I looked through several booths and made some pretty sweet deals. I bought 4 books for $12, including a hardcover of the 7th Harry Potter novel. However, let’s be real, the only reason anyone would want to go to Printers Row Lit Fest is to look at (and, of course, buy) all the pretty books.
There are two memorable moments I can take away from Printers Row this year. First, as I was browsing at a booth, I was approached by a man and his son and daughter (both adult aged). The daughter asked what kind of books I like to read and, since this is a trick question and any answer you give is wrong, I replied literary fiction. She seemed confused at that concept, so I repeated myself. The brother quickly came over to his sister’s rescue. She told him how I was a “Plain Jane” when it came to reading (to which I took much offense because that’s not how you get people to buy a book), so he took over the “sale” or lack thereof. The father had written a book and the son enthusiastically pitched it to me. “It’s a cross between sci-fi and fantasy IN SPACE,” he said. However, the father heard and stepped in to correct his son. “It’s a science-fiction, fantasy, southwest Gothic novel with a touch of romance,” he tells me. Bless you. It literally seemed like someone sneezed various genres together to come up with that. There’s a werewolf colony on the moon, need I say more?
The second memorable part of my literary adventure downtown was getting compliments on my shirt. I make sure I dress up for every occasion. Not in fancy dresses or tall heels, no. Not unless the occasion calls for that kind of attire. No, for Lit Fest, I felt that a screen printed t-shirt would do the job just right. And, boy, did it. Every couple of feet, both volunteers at Lit Fest and other literary patrons asked where I had gotten my t-shirt that read “Books Not Boys.” I told them I got it as a gift, but I directed a dozen people to TopatoCo. If I had a backpack full of these shirts and sold them, I would have made a profit. But I would never do that without permission from the original seller. (Do I at least get a reference discount on my next order for my good deed?)
In all seriousness though. I said it in my last Printers Row post and I’ll say it again: I need a new (read: another) bookcase.