Watch the NBC 5 story about Bookends by clicking the image above!

Sometimes Fairy Godpeople do just poof into your life and wave a wand--or anyway, that's how we felt on January 2, our first day open after the New Year, when LeeAnn Trotter of WMAQ-TV's NBC5 News dropped in at the store to do a story on the power of print books and the indie bookstores who sell them. There are more than two dozen fabulous independent bookstores in the greater Chicago area--every one of them unique and wonderful in its own way--who believe passionately in the importance of this message and promote it every day, and hearing it amplified by a nightly news team was the best possible way we could ever start the New Year. The story includes an interview with Doug Seibold, founder and publisher of Evanston publishing house Agate Publishing--which, btw, published four of the books on our 2018 bestseller lists (see below). Thanks to all of you for making this our best year in business so far. If you want to join "The Shelfie Craze," we'd love for you to post a photo of you and your bookshelves--or you and  our bookshelves--on our Facebook page, or on any other social media,and tag us! Please remember throughout the year that your active choice to buy your books from us is what keeps us in business and helps sustain Chicago's vibrant literary culture. 

Shelfie credit- Dan Pagel on Facebook
The last year has been fantastic in other ways as well: At the present writing, it looks as though we're safe in our cozy alley home, thanks to the very vocal support of those who expressed their love for us and our neighbors on Sherman Avenue and at The Alley Gallery. Amazing author events last year included the April appearance of beloved literary curmudgeon  David Sedaris in front of an audience of 600, and the September appearance of  Black Klansman author
Ron Stallworth--which proved that we can cram 120 people into the store at once, and also broadcast live on Facebook! The launch of owner
Nina Barrett's book
The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America's Most Infamous Crimes was another packed event--and the book (a finalist for the nonfiction Chicago Review of Books award)--went on to top the store's overall bestseller list. Scroll down to see what else made our bestseller lists, in Fiction, Nonfiction, Children's, Author Events, and Food & Beverage! (And we can't help noting that while  Michelle Obama's  Becoming did great, that little bitty
Tree Finder book did even better!)

And now onward! As it happens, we've got a couple of cool comedy gigs among our other fabulous January events that we hope will help you laugh your way through the depths of winter, or the depths of your despair, whichever is worse right now. And hey, the days are already getting longer, aren't they?

As always, read on!

Bookends & Beginnings Best Sellers of 2018
Here we have it, the best-selling items of the year. Drum roll please...

Adult Fiction:
1.) Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders (For the second year in a row!)

Adult Nonfiction:
1.) Tree Finder, May T. Watts (Up from spot #3 last year)

1.) Today, Julie Morstad (For the second year in a row!)

Author Event Book Sales:
1.)  The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America's Most Infamous Crimes, Nina Barrett (THANK YOU, YOU AMAZING WONDERFUL PEOPLE! It was actually our bestselling book this year. Period.) (and also from Agate Publishing)

Food & Beverage:
3.) Beermiscuous Field Guide: The Ultimate Adventurer's Guide to Craft Brewery Taprooms + Brewpubs: Chicago 2018/2019 Edition (Second Year in a row!)

Christopher Hitchens was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate , and The Atlantic , and the author of numerous books,  In June 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, he was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax, and, as he would later write, deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In his memoir Mortality , this month's selection of the Mortality Book Club, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death.

Our Mortality Book Club reads and discusses books having to do with the important--but frequently avoided---issues we confront at the end of our lives. Regular book club members include hospital and hospice workers, but also the adult children of aging parents, or just anyone who wonders about the many questions--medical, emotional, social, and philosophical--raised by human mortality. The book club facilitator is Jasmin Tomlins, herself in training as a death doula.

Offsite at Evanston's SPACE
Thursday, January 17, 7:30 pm 

In this comedy show with Anthony Atamanuik at Evanston's SPACE, Trump is President and he's giving a luxurious speech from the East Room of the White House.  Join him and his paid audience as he updates America on the Hunt for Rosie O'Donnell, the construction of the first ever transcontinental hair oil pipeline, and his plan for bronzing illegal immigrant's babies and using them for actual ships' anchors.  Bring your questions and the Don will answer them.

Anthony Atamanuik currently hosts, produces, and created his own late night show on Comedy Central, The President Show. Atamanuik has recurred on some of the most prominent TV comedies such as 30 Rock for six years, Difficult People for Hulu, and Broad City 

Bookends & Beginnings will be on hand to sell copies of
American Tantrum, which Anthony Atamanuik will be happy to sign.

Offsite at Evanston SPACE, 1245 Chicago Avenue

The European Union (EU) stands out as a fascinatingly unique political organization. On the one hand, it has shown the potential for developing deep and wide-ranging cooperation between member states, going far beyond that found anywhere else in the world. On the other, it is currently in the throes of a phase of profound uncertainty about its viability and future.

Showing how and why the EU has developed from 1950 to the present day, this month's selection of our Very Short Book Club-- The European Union: A Very Short Introduction --covers a range of topics, including the Union's early history, the workings of its institutions and what they do, the interplay between "euroskeptics" and federalists, and the role of the Union beyond Europe in international affairs and as a peace-keeper. This recently updated fourth edition also covers the migrant crisis and the UK's decision to leave the Union, and concludes by considering the future of the Union and the choices and challenges that may lie ahead.

Anyone is welcome to join this Very Short Book Club, which is gradually--and in very short doses--working toward a complete understanding of Everything by tackling a new title from the Oxford University Press Very Short Introductions series every month. Or just come browse our collection of 300+ VSIs, offering concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, and Literary Theory to History. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given topic.
Wednesday, January 23, 6 - 7:30 pm

In February of 2018, a short satirical piece on  McSweeney's became a viral sensation: " New Erotica for Feminists "  attracted over a million page views and six figures worth of Facebook shares within weeks. The premise? Subverting common romance and adult genre tropes into hilarious, hot and very bothered feminist fantasies where equal pay, a diverse Congress, and an immortal Ruth Bader Ginsburg are made manifest.

The authors of that piece, Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer, are comedy writers and founders of  The Belladonna . By popular demand, they've expanded the original twelve vignettes into  New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay.  It's a smart, timely, and relatable book that balances our need to laugh through the pain with an earnest invocation for change-- a sly, satirical take on all the things that turn feminists on. It will get you in the make a difference. 

Caitlin Kunkel will be with us this evening for an interactive conversation in which she'll invite the audience to share feminist fantasies of their own. She is a comedy writer and satirist whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and Live Wire Radio, among others. She is the co-founder of the comedy and satire site for women and non-binary authors, The Belladonna. She created the online satire writing program for The Secondary City and teaches in New York at Magnet Theater and Catapult. 
Framed by the genre-defying international phenomenon
Hamilton , the new book Rise Up! , by long-time Chicago Tribune chief theater critic Chris Jones is the story of how major risk-taking on the part of writers, producers, and audiences re-inserted theatre into the national conversation and proved that Broadway is, and has always been, an emblem of hope in turbulent times. Join us this evening as Jones discusses the book, which begins in the 1990s with Angels in America and then chronologically unpacks Broadway's biggest shows within the context of the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the emotional turmoil of the post 9/11 recovery, the artistic response to the global recession, the optimism felt by artists during the Obama administration, and the dramatic arrival of the newest administration.

And Save the Date for...

Saturday, February 2, 3 - 4:30 pm

Paul Lisnek is a political analyst for WGN-TV and holds a law degree and Ph.D. in communications--a background that heavily informs his new thriller
Assume Guilt, about a Chicago attorney named Matt Barlow who's vowed he'd never be part of a criminal case again--not after failing to save an innocent man from the death penalty. But that changes when top Chicago real estate developer and aspiring politician Charles Marchand is charged with killing his wife. Says journalist and anchor Bill Kurtis, "Paul Lisnek hits all the right buttons in this story with a twist, which only a life-long Chicagoan can tell...and Paul does it VERY well. Bravo!"

Stop by the store today between 3 and 4:30 to meet Paul, get a book signed, and enjoy some light refreshments. And click here to hear Paul talk in more depth about the book .

We're the Lucky Ones

Thank you so very much to all the amazing authors who came to the store this year or appeared at an offsite event that we supported with book sales.  We are so grateful to have a community as supportive and incredible as you all. We look forward to more late nights, book signings, and shared love of books with you!

(In order of appearance) 

Kevin Coval - Mark Miller - Elif Batuman - Ben Austen - Phyllis Lyons - Katrina Dodson - Reginald Gibbons - Pamela Bannos - Christine Sneed - Zoe Zolbrod - Jerry Brennan - Andrew Santella -  Sunyoung Park - Mi-Ryong Shim - Scott Tong - Ethan Michaeli - David Sedaris - Jeff Vandermeer - Ellen Shubart - Indra Levy - Andrew Leong - J.S. Puller - Barbara Mahany - Kate Masur - Charles Johnson -  Megan Stielstra - Renee Engeln - Amy & Dave Freeman - Nadine Strossen - Geoffrey Stone - Danny Postel - Amelia Levin - Medea Benjamin - Rachel Jamison Webster - Cheryl Judice - Jean Iversen -  Philip Sultz - Bernard Friedman - Juan Martinez - Chris Mackenzie Jones - Mary Jo McConahay - Ken Krimstein - Heather E. Ash -  Julie Hyzy - Mia Manansala - Raymond Benson -  Michael Barsa - Tracy Clark - Carlene O'Connor aka Mary Carter - Elizabeth Rush - Sarah Ruhl - Ben Austen - Brant Rosen - Abby Geni - Julia Fine - Jay Pridmore - George Larson - Jeremy T Wilson - Sophie Lucido Johnson - Kenyata Rogers -  Jason Grunebaum - Ulrike Stark - Manzoor Ahtesham - Kim Brooks- Jon Ziomek - Rita Dragonette - Elizabeth Wheeler - Allison Yarrow - Heidi Stevens - Ellen King - Carrie Schloss - Bruce Iglauer - Patrick A Roberts - Cozbi A. Cabrera -  Steve Dolinsky - Andew Hilsberg - Wendy Pearlman - Rosellen Brown - Sharon Solwitz

Thanks also to those who facilitated occasional and ongoing book discussions:

Jasmin Tomlins - Josiah Ewing - Lesley Williams -
Shari Pergricht - Georges Augustin 

...And to the many Evanston and Chicagoland organizations that make our home a great place to live and partnered with us for fantastic events and initiatives in 2018:

Evanston Public Library, The Evanston Literary Festival, Downtown Evanston, The Woman's Club of Evanston, The Evanston Environmental Association, Roger W. Bardwell ScholarshipYoung, Black & LitThe Ethical Humanist Society, The Evanston History Center, Dear Evanston Racial Justice Book Group , Evanston SPACE, GirlForward , The Great Books FoundationNichols Middle School, Chiaravalle Montessori School, Roycemore School, Les Dames d'Escoffier Chicago Chapter, The Music Institute of Chicago RHINO Poetry, First Night Evanston, the Chicagoland Independent Bookstore Alliance, the Mystery Writers of America--Midwest Chapter, the Middle East and North African Studies Program at Northwestern, the English and Writing programs at Northwestern, and Northwestern's Global Humanities Initiative Centerand Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities 

...And much gratitude to those who supplied food and drink for some of our more festive events:
And finally, don't forget . . .
For children ages 2 through 6,  Storytime at Bookends & Beginnings is always fun! Our alternating storytellers are Nina Barrett (our store owner) and elementary school teacher Chris Kennelly (shown in action in this photo).
Bookends & Beginnings is a community-centered and community-sustained, full-service, general-interest independent bookstore, now in our fourth calendar year. We are a member of the Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance ( ChIBA ), the Great Lakes Independent Bookstore Association ( GLIBA ), and the American Booksellers Association ( ABA ). Show your support by shopping in our store (and other Chicago-area independent bookstores ), by donating books of quality and in good condition, by bringing your local and out-of-town friends and family to shop with us, by attending our events, and by "liking" us on Facebook and posting reviews on other social media. R emember that you can always see event photos and news updates on our Facebook page , which is updated almost daily. There you can also subscribe to our events feed with a single click.
Above all, keep reading good books!