There’s a lot to look forward to this weekend! First, of course, check out the Friday night National Reading Group Month/Great Group Reads panel featuring authors of books on the first Great Group Reads list from 10 years ago! After the panel, go rest up for the National meetings over the next few days—or for the Centennial Celebration!
The WNBA is turning 100! In celebration, the organization has been banding together with special events and promotions. The Centennial site has information about many of the programs throughout this year, including the Book-A-Day initiative through Women’s History Month, Bookwomen Speak lectures, and the writing and publication of Women in the Literary Landscape: A Centennial Publication of the Women’s National Book Award.
On Saturday, it’s the event we’ve all anxiously anticipated: the Centennial Celebration. The evening begins at 6 p.m. at Pen and Brush, which itself has been a nonprofit dedicated to promoting female artists and writers for over 120 years! Don’t forget that you need to RSVP for the event—if you haven’t already, check your email to see if there are still tickets available.
The evening will open with a cocktail reception (don’t forget, the term “cocktail party” was coined the same year as the WNBA: 1917). Then we’ll have the launch party for Women in the Literary Landscape and will recognize the two WNBA Award winners (having two winners is another feature of the Centennial): Carla Hayden and Louise Erdrich.
Carla Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress. She is both the first woman and the first African American to hold the position. Her prior roles in the library world include time with the National Museum and Library Services Board, the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, the American Library Association, and more.
Louise Erdrich is a National Book Award winner, National Book Critics Circle Award winner, and Pulitzer Prize finalist (which also started 100 years ago!) She is a novelist, poet, memoirist, bookstore owner, and native activist. Her titles include The Round House, The Plague of Doves, and Love Medicine.
The presentation of awards will continue with the WNBA Second Century Prize, which goes to Little Free Library. If you haven’t seen a Little Free Library, keep an eye out—they’re all over! You can find some around the city at Freeman Plaza West, The Leo House, or Chenchita’s Garden. Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that promotes reading and provides access for books through communal locations where readers can drop off old books and pick up new ones—for free, no library card required!
The evening will conclude with a conversation titled “Transformative Role of Literature in Our Society.” Moderator Dierdre Bair (author of Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend, Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography, Samuel Beckett, and others) will lead guests Margo Jefferson (critic and author of On Michael Jackson and Negroland, among other books), Roxana Robinson (author of Sparta, Cost, and more), and Emma Straub (owner of bookstore Books are Magic and author of books including Modern Lovers and The Vacationers) as they discuss the topic.
See you at the Celebration!