Many Chicagoans of course know that the city's library system sponsors an excellent and comprehensive children's reading program every summer; but did you know that for the first time in its history, this year they're sponsoring an adult summer reading program as well? They are! Entitled "City of Big Readers" after Carl Sandburg's famous poem (in which he refers to Chicago as the "city of big shoulders"), the program recommends over 60 books for summer reading that are either about Chicago or written by Chicago authors, including such excellent choices as City of the Century, Devil in the White City, and Carl Smith's The Plan of Chicago (which has been reviewed here in the past), as well as such CCLaP friends and favorites as Blair Kamin, Stuart Dybek, Joe Meno, Adam Langer, Elizabeth Crane, Elizabeth Berg, Chris Ware, Kevin Guilfoile and a lot more.
How the library system is supporting this list, then, is through a series of activities: over 30 live events this summer, for example, featuring the authors on their list; the acquiring of extra copies of all books mentioned, as well as a special section in each library where you can find the books; even an innovative "book club in a bag" program concerning five of these books, where in a matter of seconds with your library card you can check out a canvas bag featuring ten copies of the same book along with study and conversation guides. Not to mention, all you have to do is read two of these books altogether by the end of the summer (as well as turn in a survey about what you thought of the program) to get a free Chicago Public Library travel mug!
It's a smart program featuring a lot of smart books, and yet another sign of just how literary a city Chicago actually is; I encourage all residents to check it out, now that we're rapidly approaching the halfway point of summer. Those who are interested can pick up a paper copy of the guide at any local branch, or download an electronic copy (PDF) by clicking here (or by simply visiting the Chicago Public Library website).