It's here! The 27th annual Printers Row Lit Fest begins today, with daytime programming from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Lit After Dark from 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Before you hit the highway or head out for the el, here are some insider tips to make sure you have a great Lit Fest.
Don't worry about tickets. Yes, people did pre-register for events at the Harold Washington Library Center and the University Center, but come to the lobby of the venue anyway and see if space is still available.
Bring sunscreen and an umbrella. Tomorrow's weather forecast calls for "scattered thunderstorms" with a high temperature of 86 degrees, which basically means prepare for any and all kinds of weather.
Layer your clothing. Great authors will be appearing both outside and inside and, as I am sure you know, most buildings tend to use their air conditioning to the fullest during the summer. Bring a sweater to keep you toasty while inside.
Stay late. Lit Fest keeps going even after the sun goes down. This year's Lit After Dark events should be spectacular with a line-up featuring Chicago Live, Reading Under the Influence and the Chicago Story Collective. Get ready to loosen your tie, the tone of Lit After Dark is a little less academic than the daytime programming.
Join Chicago's largest group reading. At 2 p.m. at Lil Lit Park Neverland Rick Kogan will kick off Chicago's largest group reading. Handouts of the selection will be available so you can join in. Stay around after the reading – there will be something you won't want to miss.
Get social. Follow @ChiTribBooks and @PrintersRowFest for live tweets all weekend long. Check-in on foursquare at @PrintersRowFest. The first hundred people to do so can claim a free tote bag at the concession stand.
I am going to attempt to go to as many events as possible, but given the jam-packed schedule this year I will have to make some tough decisions. Here are just some of the events I plan on attending Saturday:
The conversation between Tribune columnist Rick Kogan and author Jonathan Alter. When two big personalities get together, there is bound to be something explosive. Alter's book was riveting and I am interested to hear what he thinks will happen during the 2012 election.
Kim Barker and Colin McMahon in conversation. Continuing with my political theme, I will stop by what promises to be a great discussion about foreign policy and international news coverage. Barker, a former Tribune reporter, knows the ins-and-outs of Afghanistan and Pakistan and has plenty of stories from her years reporting on the war zone.
The Nelson Algren Award announcement. For the first time ever, the Nelson Algren Short Story Award is being handed out during Printers Row Lit Fest. The winner could be in the audience!
The Define-A-Thon. I love competition and I can't wait to see how many bibliophiles know their Webster's dictionary. I wonder what the winning definition will be…
Chicago Slam Work's Printers Row Slam Cup. In Chicago we take poetry seriously. From small open mics to the famous Louder Than a Bomb competition, this city is filled with emcees.
Follow literary reporter Courtney Crowder as she tweets all weekend long from @ChiTribBooks and @PrintersRowFest