Season 2 Programs

📅 A Conversation with Jesmyn Ward


Updated promotional packet will be sent to member libraries once a new date is set.

Hailed as “the new Toni Morrison” by the American Booksellers Association, Jesmyn Ward discusses how her literary vision and personal experiences address urgent questions about racism and social injustice. Her latest book, Navigate Your Stars, is an adaptation of her 2018 commencement address at Tulane University that championed the value of hard work.

A professor of creative writing at Tulane University and contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Ward’s many honors include the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a Strauss Living Award. In 2017, she became the first woman and first person of color to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice. The standout writer of her generation, Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives.

📅 A Conversation with Caitlin Doughty

Wednesday, November 16th at 7 p.m. CST

Promotional packet and details coming soon!

📅 A Conversation with Shauna Sever

Tuesday, December 13th at 7 p.m. CST

Promotional packet and details coming soon!

📅 A Conversation with Ross Gay

Wednesday, January 11th at 7 p.m. CST

Promotional packet and details coming soon!

Past Events

📅 A Conversation with Marlee Matlin: From Oscar to West Wing and Beyond

Wednesday, September 14th at 7 p.m. CST

In celebration of Deaf Awareness Month, Marlee Matlin joins Illinois Libraries Present to share the highs and lows of her Hollywood career and journeys as an activist. The youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar, Matlin’s acting career recently achieved another milestone as her 2021 film CODA swept every category it was nominated in at the 2022 Academy Awards.

A longtime advocate for deaf rights, Matlin continues to break down barriers for herself and others through her acting, awareness, and writing. As she has so aptly stated, “The only thing I can’t do is hear. The rest is there for the taking.”

This program will be offered in ASL and translated through an interpreter.

📅 An Evening with Michelle Zauner

RESCHEDULED: Wednesday, June 30 at 7 p.m. CST

Musician and author Michelle Zauner discusses her music career and her beloved bestseller Crying in H Mart. Her memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity was a New York Times notable book of the year.

Best known as a singer and guitarist who creates indie pop under the name Japanese Breakfast, Grammy Award-nominated Zauner has won acclaim from major music outlets around the world.

In conversation with Jessica Hopper, Chicago-based music critic, producer, and author.

📅 An Evening with Chef Kwame Onwuachi

Wednesday, June 22nd at 7 p.m. CST

Join us for an engaging evening with Kwame Onwuachi, highlighting his first cookbook, My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef. In it, the James Beard award-winning chef celebrates the cuisine of the African diaspora, “the world’s wisest food.” Onwuachi will share stories behind his family’s recipes, and the importance of the connections between cuisine, place, and culture.

Kwame Onwuachi is a James Beard Award-winning chef who was born on Long Island and raised in New York City, Nigeria, and Louisiana. Onwuachi was first exposed to cooking by his mother, in the family’s modest Bronx apartment, and he took that spark of passion and turned it into a career. A former Top Chef contestant, he has been named Food & Wine's Best New Chef 2019 and a 30 Under 30 honoree by both Zagat and Forbes.

📅 Jessamine Chan & Emily Maloney

Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. CST

Join Jessamine Chan and Emily Maloney for a discussion about the systems of power that impact our lives, our families, and our finances, through the lens of their acclaimed books, The School for Good Mothers and Cost of Living.

Jessamine Chan is the New York Times bestselling author of The School for Good Mothers, her debut novel. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House and Epoch. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives in Chicago with her family.

Emily Maloney is the author of Cost of Living, a collection of essays. Her work has appeared in Glamour, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best American Essays, among others. She holds an MFA from The University of Pittsburgh and lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her partner and their dog.

📅 Nick Offerman & Jeff Tweedy

Wednesday, April 27 at 7 p.m. CST

Join us for actor/humorist/woodworker Nick Offerman in conversation with musician/walking companion Jeff Tweedy.

Best known for his breakout role as Ron Swanson in the hit TV series Parks and Recreation, actor and New York Times bestselling author Nick Offerman, originally of Minooka, Ill., will be discussing his newest book, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside. Learn about Nick here.

Jeff Tweedy is a musician, songwriter, author, and record producer best known as the singer and guitarist of the band Wilco. Originally from Belleville, Ill., Tweedy has released 20 studio albums across his career and is the author of two books, including How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back. Learn about Jeff here.

📅 An Evening with Jenny Lawson

Wednesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. CST

Join us for an evening with award-winning humorist Jenny Lawson as she discusses her most recent bestseller, Broken (in the best possible way), and her brilliantly funny body of work.

Jenny is an American journalist, author and blogger known for her great candor in sharing her struggle with mental illness. "The Bloggess" lives in Texas with her husband and daughter and was constantly “buying too many books” (“Not a real thing,” she insists), so she decided to skip the middleman and just started her own bookshop, which also serves booze because books and booze are what magic is made of. She has previously written Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy, both of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. Learn more about Jenny.

📅 An Evening with Jasmine Guillory

Wednesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. CST

Join us for a lively evening with one of romance's brightest new voices, bestselling author Jasmine Guillory, as she discusses the importance of real life and the modern rom-com. She will be joined in conversation by author Morgan Rogers (Honey Girl).

Jasmine Guillory is a writer, lawyer and New York Times bestselling author of six romance novels, including While We Were Dating, The Wedding Date, and The Proposal, which NPR called “Rollicking, charming, and infinitely zesty.” Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, and Time. She lives in Oakland, California. Learn more about Jasmine.

📅 An Evening with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Wednesday, January 26 at 7 p.m. CST

Bestselling author Silvia Moreno-Garcia discusses her newest book,
Velvet Was the Night, and her genre-defying mashups of cultural noir and Lovecraftian horror. She will be joined in conversation by author Gus Moreno (This Thing Between Us).

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed novels Certain Dark Things, Gods of Jade and Shadow and Mexican Gothic, which Vanity Fair called “[An] irresistibly dark feminist reimagining of the Gothic fantasy novel.” Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination, Silvia has edited several anthologies, received many awards for her novels, and is a columnist for the Washington Post. Learn more about Silvia.

Membership Info Sessions
Watch a recording of our recent Info Sessions to meet members of the steering committee and learn what's next, including opportunities to join ILP committees and details of our 2022 membership launch.

Watch the September 27 recording here

Watch the October 1 recording here