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City Lit Books Offer Help from Writers on Last-Minute Gift Ideas

By Victoria Johnson | December 24, 2013 8:28am
 City Lit Books Guest Bookseller
City Lit Books Guest Bookseller
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LOGAN SQUARE — When looking for the perfect book to buy for a holiday gift, who better to ask than someone who actually writes them?

That was the thinking behind City Lit Books guest holiday bookseller events, which brought local authors into the store to sell their own books, as well as a few of their favorites.

On Monday afternoon, City Lit shoppers got help from local mystery writer Bryan Gruley, who took the job readily.

"He's done really well," said manager Javier Ramirez. "He's jumping right in and helping people."

Indeed, Gruley could be seen asking browsers if they needed any help, as well as talking to them about his own latest book, "The Skeleton Box," published in 2012.

The Lakeview resident has now written three novels on top of being a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who worked for years at the Wall Street Journal and now works as a writer-at-large for Bloomberg News.

"It's been great," City Lit Books owner Teresa Kirschbraun said of the guest bookseller program, which has included author local authors such as Christine Sneed and Jonathan Eig.

"Just to get their perspective on the kind of books they read, and also what they read for research. It's just a different perspective than ours, which is great," Sneed said.

For his part, Gruley said he was enjoying his new job for the day, which he was "hired" to do by Ramirez, a friend from the local literary community.

"Javier asked me and I said 'Sure, it sounds like fun,' and it has been so far," he said. "[Customers will] say 'I'm looking for a book for my dad,' and then I start asking questions, which is what a reporter does, and make a recommendation."

In addition to stocking up on his books for the event, Gruley said they ordered extras of some of his personal favorites, such as Peter Heller''s "The Dog Stars" and Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."

It was decidedly more uplifting recommendation he gave to one customer though, who needed help finding a gift for his toddler niece.

"He was great," Logan Square resident Rob Steffen said as he made a beeline for the children's section. "He just gave me a recommendation for my little niece, so I'm going to go check it out right now."

The recommendation? It was the same book Gruley had recently bought for his own 7-month-old grandson — "Go Dog Go."