I’ve just enjoyed an evening with Elizabeth Berg. Not alone, of course, but with 150 of her most fervent fans and Julia Keller, too. It was quite pleasant.

I also spent Saturday afternoon at the Oak Park Public Library with 20 published writers, which is only half of the published authors in the village, but these were the ones who showed up for the reception. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t realize how many writers lived in the area. I knew, of course, about Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Elizabeth Berg and Alex Kotlowitz, but the rest passed under my radar.

Oak Park is great for someone like me who loves the printed word and loves to read. There are a plethora of writers in the area, and they write an amazing array of books. (Doesn’t it seem as if being published in book form makes a writer more credible than being published in any other form of print?)

What is it you like to read? (You do like to read, don’t you?) There is Bert “BS” Levy, who’s written a series of novels about car racing. Then there’s E.E. Knight, who writes about fantasy. Do you have visions of owning or training a dragon someday? Maybe magic is more to your liking, in which case, check out Mary Frances Zambreno. There are young writers, too. Stephanie Kuehnert writes about contemporary issues for teens and young adults, and Christopher Calhoun has self-published a children’s book.

History is big among Oak Parkers. Lee Brooke and Marcy Kubat have written several books about local history, as have Harriet Hausman and Doug Deuchler. Harriette Robinet has written about the scope of American history from colonial times through the Civil Rights movement in 12 novels for children. A fourth-grade teacher I know uses her books to make history come alive for her students.

Of course, current political and social trends are popular in a village with a tradition of raucous civil discourse on everything. Stan West’s book, Suburban Promised Land, details the black experience in the village; Theresa Amato talks about the national elections process; and Donald Evans chronicles the sad history of the Cubs.

The books specifically for young adults delve into social problems such as intergenerational abuse (Shattered, by Kathi Baron) and family breakups (Blind Faith Hotel, by Pam Todd).

In a place noted for architecture, there must be a book about it – and there are – The Guidebook to the Architecture of River Forest, by Jeannette Fields. By the way, the novel about Wright, Loving Frank, was written by a former Oak Parker, Nancy Horan.

There are mysteries about the area, and David Heinzmann and Alex Matthews are among several authors of this genre.

Pat Allen had published two books about art and the process of art. Sallie Wolf has a new book about nature, The Robin Sings a Laughing Song.

Ever politically correct, we even have books about disabilities. Dan Montville has published a book about the lighter side of raising a child with disabilities.

What a range and depth of writers. Makes me proud to be a reader. I’d like to see more attention paid to local writers. After all, Hemingway was just a regular guy until he won his prize. Carol Shields and Jane Hamilton are no slouches either, and they both hail from here. We ought to talk up the connection.

Thank you to the Oak Park library and Debby Preiser for bringing these local literati to our attention. I hope that we will have more such gatherings. Remember the slogan “Think globally, buy locally?” Consider buying the works of our neighbors, and then enjoy.

Helen Kossler has lived in Oak Park for 30 years.

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Helen Kossler

Helen Kossler loves reading aloud to her grandchildren and is not ashamed to admit that she almost always likes the book better than the movie. She has been buying, borrowing, begging and stealing (well—not...