Kroch’s and Brentano’s

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Bookends & Beginnings, one of my favorite independent book stores in the area, located in an alley in downtown Evanston, has a wonderful collection of used books. One of the treasures that I found on the shelves there recently was a signed first edition of The Fanatic, by Meyer Levin. Inside was a bookmark that read “Autographed by the Author”…….Kroch’s & Brentano’s.”
Seeing those hallowed names of Chicago’s literary past, Kroch’s and Brentano’s, brought out a flood of precious memories for me. I remember the scores of times, over two decades or so, when I would spend truly enjoyable time searching the Wabash Avenue store’s shelves and tables for good things to read. The staff was always knowledgeable, professional and friendly. Looking around was perfectly alright; no one was pressuring you to buy. Do any of you have Kroch’s and Brentano’s memories that you wish to share?

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Chicago Great Nonfiction Writing

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A few days ago, as part of the Evanston Literary Festival, Don Evans, the Executive Director of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, put together a panel of literary folks at the Bookends & Beginnings book store to discuss Chicago’s great books. Author Toni Nealie was the panelist who discussed Chicago’s canon of nonfiction. She brought a list of her top picks and shared it with the audience. It’s a fairly comprehensive and spot on list, but I would have added two masterful collection of essays——Sydney J. Harris’ Strictly Personal and Joseph Epstein’s Snobbery. Peruse the list and let me know if you think others should be added.