Chicago Public Library Announces One Book, One Chicago Selection

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 19, 2011 2:30PM

2011_08AugieMarch.jpg This fall marks the 10th anniversary of One Book, One Chicago, the city-wide book club started by former Mayor Richard M. Daley. And, this’ll be the first year Mayor Emanuel will take the reigns of the program. The 21st One Book, One Chicago selection is The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow, one of TIME magazine's top 200 novels.

It’s the story a young Chicagoan who groups up in the city during the Great Depression. As he matures from boyhood to adulthood, his experiences with the friends, family, and acquaintances he encounters shape the person he becomes. In a press release, Mayor Emanuel said the book explores “the seedier side of early 20th century Chicago.” Sounds juicy.

We haven’t yet read the book, and perhaps since we hadn’t heard of it before either, we’re poor examples of literary Chicagoans. But, we’re very intrigued by the content of The Adventures of Augie March. No matter what lists or reports you read about unemployment rates, the fact of the matter is it’s hard to find a job in this city. Bringing Chicagoans together to read a book about a similar period of economic turmoil in our city is, we think, a good move on One Book, One Chicago’s part.

As is usual with the One Book, One Chicago program, Chicago Public Library has ordered roughly one gazillion copies of the book so every Chicagoan with a library card can get their hands on it for free, and welcomes the public to free discussions and programming to discuss and explore the book and the issues it raises. This fall’s programming for The Adventures of Augie March include a lecture by Chicago historian Dominic Pacyga on an exploration of Depression-era Chicago, discussion with novelist Martin Amis and his relationship with Bellow, a series of creative writing workshops, and English courses at Harold Washington College and DePaul University exploring different literary facets of the book.