Printers Row Lit Fest 2012

 Summertime means a break from school work, hectic schedules and cold weather.

Though my type A personality and Midwestern upbringing functions best with a bit of crunch time motivation and a chill in the air, when the end of this semester hit, I couldn’t wait to have leisure time to partake in one of my favorite pastimes: reading.

This summer I have begun to tackle the massive reading list that has piled up over two semesters of zero free time.  I started with White Teeth by Zadie Smith (phenomenal) and most recently finished Into The Wild by John Krakauer (I will never go to Alaska).  Check out my GoodReads for more!

However, I took that reading a step further by volunteering at the Printers Row Lit Fest (June 9-10, 2012).  My ChicagoNow community manager Jimmy Greenfield posted it on our blogger Facebook page, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to rub elbows with a few authors, check out a great event and, let’s be honest, get a free t-shirt.

Though I signed up last minute, I was placed at my first choice: author escort.  Essentially this meant I led authors from the reception in the University Center (on Harrison) to their respective tents. In theory, I was also supposed to take the authors back to the UC, but as it turns out most of them were more drawn to the gargantuan tables of used books than the cubed cheese and coffee vats in the reception area. Understandably so.

Highlights of the day (I was just there on Saturday) included the first session, where I escorted four short story authors and heard about their fascinating process (Adam Levin’s Hot Pink is on my to-read list), chatted with Jenny Lawson and seeing her crazed fans double over with laughter at lines from Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and when I turned around to a tap on my shoulder only to see it was Sapphire (Push), who needed to pass me to get to her signing table. No big deal.

I definitely would have like to stop by C-SPAN Book-TV and seen Steve Edwards (I am obsessed with The Afternoon Shift) moderate a discussion on children’s literature, but it was definitely cool to work behind the scenes. I realized I would like to volunteer at more literary/writing festivals.  Most of my volunteering thus far has been focused on social justice and service. I love doing that, but it was cool to be around people who have the same interests, passions and appreciation for words as I do.

I left the day with a slight sunburn (it was well over 100 degrees throughout the day), a new reading list and an obsession with the storybook architecture of Printers Row.

I will definitely volunteer again next year. Who knows who will tap me on the shoulder in 2013?

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