Lit 50 2022: Who really delivers in Chicago

Cover images: Sally Blood (Sandy Morris) | Cover design: Dan Streeting

This year’s edition of Lit 50, our first in two years thanks to the pandemic, may seem long, but it reflects only a fraction of the accomplishments of the individuals and organizations we write about. The literary community is more vibrant than ever, whether in the programming of a growing number of places, in the organizations that support and defend writers and readers, or in the revival and expansion of independent bookstores, it is the perfect time to be a book lover in Chicago. And the stability, especially in times of pandemic, is remarkable. With few exceptions, our literary leadership is remarkably consistent, especially considering the “Hall of Fame”, which is not a place for retired players, but rather for those who have been so regularly on the list we had to give them a permanent place. In fact, most Hall of Famers are more active than ever, as evidenced by Nina Barrett, the owner of Bookends and Beginnings, who in the past year alone has become the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Amazon in name of bookstores, which opened a second location nearby and launched Bookends University to produce educational programs. She wrote:

“I realize I’m in your Hall of Fame, although I’m not quite sure I really belong there, as if I’m somehow above the fray which is the real reality of running a vibrant, profitable independent bookstore in the age of Amazon. The reality is that you feel like you’re on the front lines of a battlefield every day: the need to continually prove your value proposition to a populace of people who, while sympathetic to your cause, can also buy their books much cheaper and get them much faster by ordering them from the big online monster store. , just like property taxes, and landlords no longer become beneficent.

I read this as an imperative that applies to all entities on our list – don’t be complacent. Our organizations only thrive on our collective support and participation.

—Brian Hieggelke

Lit 50 2022: booksellers and allies
Lit 50 2022: advocates, educators and agents of change
Lit 50 2022: publishers, services and other media
Lit 50 2022: Institutions and Programmers
+ Literati of the Moment: Michelle Boone, Adrian Matejka and Fred Sasaki from the Poetry Foundation

LIT 50 2022 is written by Brendan Buck, Brian Hieggelke, Darshita Jain, Patrick Roberts, Mara Sandroff, Mary Wisniewski.

All photos by Sandy Morris (Sally Blood).

Filmed on location at the Poetry Foundation

About Joey J. Hott

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