Chicago is a writer’s town. It was always a writer’s town, nurturing and inspiring such luminaries of literature as Carl Sandberg, Willa Cather, Upton Sinclair, Nelson Algren and Gwendolyn Brooks. James Joyce’s epic, Ulysses was first published in Chicago in serial form. These streets and neighborhoods are teeming with an unsurpassed creative energy punctuated by poetry slams, storytelling and spoken word artists. Each week on my radio program (Playtime with Bill Turck and Kerri Kendall, AM1590 WCGO) I have the glorious honor of  conversing with many of the city’s best up and coming, established and struggling to become established writers and authors.

On the show we encourage the gift of Art and books. Supporting self-published and aspiring writers is at the cornerstone of that. There are amazing stories consistent with the author’s true vision of their story not combed over, focus-grouped and changed by editors. But quality, grammatically, in editing and in storytelling is paramount, just as it would be in the mega-publishing houses, which tend to churn out market proven story templates. the Oliver garden is fine, but the best most unique, flavorful and satisfying meals originate in the kitchens and the hearts of great little neighborhood bistros. Literature is just the same.

The list is by no means complete. You may have a suggestion or two. I would love to hear them, as well as suggestions for 2019. These books are from this list of better than 40 books Kerri and I read and reviewed this year.

The Playtime Top 10 best books of 2018 by local authors this year:

Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s Northside baseball Team by authors Randy Richardson and Becky Sarwate-Maxwell. Painstakingly researched with exclusive interview with lifelong Cubs fans like Bob Newhart, Dennis Franz, Pat Brickhouse, Bill Curtis and many more.  Proceeds of this collectible benefit Chicago Cancer Baseball Charities. (Eckhartz Press)

Making Money with Music by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan. Every artist is an entrepreneur and a business person first. Though designed for musicians, Chertkow and Feehan have created a concise pocket guide to success, marketing and social media for every Artist. A stunning follow up to their landmark The Indie Band Survival Guide. (St. Martins)

An Off White Christmas, by Donald G, Evans. A veteran, a young Jewish couple find love on Christmas Day, a disgruntled Scrooge at a holiday dinner theatre, a cross country family caravan and just a few of the exquisitely rendered tales in Evan’s collection of short stories that should set the standard for Christmas tales.(Eckhartz Press)

Redlined A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago, by Linda Gartz’ A path to where a city, a nation a family finds itself often is best written in the language of the heart. From a box of letters and photographs Emmy winning producer Linda Gartz traces a narrative from growing up on Chicago’s West side to the racial injustice that divides a city.(She Writes Press)

Death of the Angels, by Alex Burkholder. It stunned a nation and still haunts Chicago to this day. From an old box of forgotten cassettes, Emmy award winning journalist Alex Burkholder brings to life in the words of the survivors and the important lessons learned that terrible day at Our Lady of Angels, December 1st, 1958 (Eckhartz Press)

The Cube by Kelly Fumiko Weiss. In an interview Weiss lamented the endless parade of dark dystopian views on the future of humanity and set to write something positive and hopeful. What unfolds in this page turner is a riveting and taunt mystery with a left hook jab of an ending. A debut novel by a writer to watch. (Windy City Publishers)

Scardance, by William Mansfield. A sudden and vicious dog attack transforms a couple’s reality in an instant, but the story only begins there. Based on real life events, a novel of love and healing and perseverance. Powerful from start to finish.  (Eckhartz Press)

1001 Train Rides in Chicago, by Richard Reeder. a must read for anyone who wants to know the real Chicago through the eyes and lives of those who ride Chicago’s el trains through its patchwork and interconnected neighborhoods. Funny, sometimes shocking, with brilliant glimpses of history embedded in the narrative. Reeder’s diversity in the characters rendered is as brilliant as the true diversity of this great city.(Eckhartz Press)

A Well Respected Man by David W. Berner. No one renders travel and the road better than this award winning author and journalist, but it takes something more to render the heart and the uncertainties of fate. What happens when a promise conflicts with our preconceived ideas about our own fate? The best books are those that mimic existence in so far as with every turn of the page we are left wondering. A powerfully affirming story from a gifted Artist. This is a book you will return to again and again. (Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Co.)

…and one for the kids…

The Musical Adventures of Grace: Winter, by Ken Korber. The third in a four part series brings the adventures of one little musical note named Grace. Grace notes, the half notes that give music their sparkle! Grace wants to be treated like the bigger notes. Educational, fun, if I’d had this book as a child I might have realized my dream of being a music star. Oh, well, I guess I’ll stick with radio. A perfect gift for any aspiring young music lover. (Balboa Press)



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