This year’s 31st annual Newberry Library Book Fair offers a literary taste of Chicago with a 4-day bookapalooza featuring over 120,000 used books in 70 categories plus an afternoon of debates, food trucks and musical entertainment.
The book fair, which returns this Thursday through Sunday, has become an important part of the fabric of summer in Chicago with bibliophiles returning yearly to what’s become “Chicago’s favorite book sale.”
In addition to the books, the Bughouse Square Debates (from “bughouse,” slang for mental health facility) are always a big draw. The Debates take place Saturday afternoon in Washington Square Park (aka Bughouse Square), just across from the Newberry’s main entrance.
A longtime Newberry tradition, the Debates recreate Chicago’s boisterous and radical past dating back to 1910 when bohemians, socialists, atheists, and religionists of all kinds mounted soapboxes to compete informally for attention.
With a nod to that past, this year’s orators will, once again, mount soapboxes that will be located throughout the park to debate present day topics ranging from gun control to the renovations at Wrigley Field.
The champion soapbox speaker will receive the coveted Dill Pickle award.
Debate attendees can also enjoy live music and grab a bite from food trucks.
In addition to the bargain books priced from $2, the fair also features CDs, DVDs, vinyls and rare collectibles.
According to Newberry President David Spadafora, “this year’s book fair showcases some of the most unique items we’ve seen in its 31 year history.” Noteworthy finds include:
- An uncorrected proof of A Game of Thrones signed by author George R. R. Martin;
- Photo albums from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair;
- Books signed by President Barack Obama, Carl Sandburg and Roger Ebert;
- German currency from the 1920s and ‘30s (the period of rapid inflation that helped give rise to the Nazi party);
- and vintage board games such as Monopoly and Game of Authors.
What you need to know to go:
What: Book Fair and Bughouse Square Debates
Where: Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago
When: Thursday, July 23-Friday, July 24, noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 25-Sunday, July 26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Debates, Saturday, July 25, noon to 4 p.m.
Cost: Admission to the event is free with all sales proceeds benefitttng the Newberry.
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