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Nella Larsen in 1928. Photo: James Allen/Library of Congress, Harmon Foundation Records, Manuscript Division.

The Novelist Nella Larsen's Life Between Worlds

Daniel Hautzinger

Nella Larsen existed in disparate worlds, never quite finding her place: born to a Danish mother and West Indian father in a Chicago vice district, she eventually became a part of the Harlem Renaissance and Black professional class, producing a neglected classic novel. 
A PBS Books author talk about 'Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks'

Celebrate Gwendolyn Brooks with PBS Books and WTTW

Daniel Hautzinger

The Chicagoland author and illustrator of the children's book Exquisite: The Life and Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks give a live reading and discuss the process of creating the book as well as their admiration of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
Louie Perez on his influences in a graphic from the American Writers Museum's 'My America' exhibit. Image: American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum Spotlights the Voices of Immigrant and Refugee Writers

Daniel Hautzinger

“You can make a strong case for saying the American writing experience is the immigrant writing experience,” says the author Juan Martinez, and that's exactly what the American Writers Museum's "My America" exhibit, newly made digital, does.
'Mondays with Michelle Obama' from PBS KIDS

Michelle Obama Joins PBS KIDS For Weekly Story Times

Daniel Hautzinger

Beginning April 20, Michelle Obama will join PBS KIDS to read a children's book live on Facebook and YouTube in order to encourage reading while children are at home, in Mondays with Michelle Obama.
Books published by Agate Publishing

The Chicago Area Publishing Company That Discovers Overlooked Talent

Daniel Hautzinger

Since the Chicago area is not a publishing hub, Agate Publishing is easy to overlook. But its location outside a hub of the industry lets it find overlooked talent: it published the debut novels of Jesmyn Ward and Kiese Laymon, and has a current National Book Award contender in Burn the Place.
Valerie Taylor and Pearl Hart. Images: Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame

Chicago's Outspoken Lesbian Power Couple

Daniel Hautzinger

Pearl Hart spent much of her career as a lawyer defending people from the infringement of their rights, from Communists caught up in the Red Scare to lesbians and gay people. Her late-in-life partner Valerie Taylor advocated for LGBT rights through her writing, speaking, and novels.
Book covers from The Great American Read

What's America's Favorite Novel?

Daniel Hautzinger

Did your favorite novel come out first in The Great American Read's search for America's best-loved book? Find the top ten books by voting here, and learn insights from the results.
The author Alex Haley in 1976

From the Archive: Alex Haley, Author of 'Roots'

Daniel Hautzinger

The author of Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X explains the origins of Roots and his difficulty in capturing the experience of being on a slave-ship in a 1976 interview. "The absence of pride changes to a presence of pride" when you know your history, he says.
Banned Books Week

What Makes People Ban Books?

Daniel Hautzinger

The American Library Assocation's Office for Intellectual Freedom is currently hosting Banned Books Week. What kinds of books were most frequently challenged in 2017, and what books from The Great America Read's list of America's favorite novels have been banned?
The Chicago Literacy Alliance's Literacenter. Photo: Eileen Molony

Working Towards a Fully Literate Society

Daniel Hautzinger

One in six adults, or 35 million people, read below a fourth-grade level in the United States. The Chicago Literacy Alliance is working to change that, by bringing together organizations with similar goals and fostering collaboration amongst them.
Chicago's Seminary Co-op

Even More of Chicago's Favorite Indie Bookstores

Daniel Hautzinger

Discover the stories behind more of Chicago's favorite indie bookstores on the South Side, including a legendary, long-lived one that counts Barack and Michelle Obama amongst its fans.
Pilsen Community Books in Chicago

More of Chicago's Beloved Independent Bookstores

Daniel Hautzinger

Independent bookstores remain an irreplaceable asset, with their staff recommendations and sense of community. We've already featured three Chicago stalwarts, but here are the stories of a few more of the city's beloved indie bookstores.
Chicago Books to Women in Prison

How Volunteers Help Improve the Quality of Life for Women in Prison Through Books

Daniel Hautzinger

Last year, Illinois spent less than $300 on prison libraries, and access is often very limited. So Chicago Books to Women in Prison does exactly what its name says.  “By helping women have a better quality of life while in prison, that's just better for their family and the community they'll be returning to," says a volunteer.
A bookstore. Photo: Adolfo Felix on Unsplash

Chicago's Independent Bookstores

Daniel Hautzinger

If you love books, you probably also love bookstores, and independent bookstores remain irreplaceable gems, with their staff recommendations, unusual selections, and sense of community. Discover the stories behind a few of Chicago's beloved indie bookstores.
John Updike

From the Archive: John Updike

Daniel Hautzinger

"Nobody needs a book much, do they?" It's a surprising sentiment to hear coming from a writer, but in this 1981 interview with WTTW's John Callaway, John Updike discusses his impressively humble views on literature, his existential anxieties, and his goals as a writer.
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