Books By Members

AWJ Chicago members not only produce content for news outlets and teach to the next generation of journalists, they also write books. Here are but a few.

The Adventures of Cancer Bitch

The Adventures of Cancer BitchS. L. Wisenberg
University Of Iowa Press, released February 2009

Wisenberg may have lost a breast, but she retained her humor, outrage and skepticism toward common wisdom and most institutions. While following the prescribed protocols at the place she called Fancy Hospital, Wisenberg is unsparing in her descriptions of the fumblings of new doctors, her own awkward announcement to her students and the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors walk. Combining the personal with the political, she shares her research on the money spent on pink ribbons instead of preventing pollution, and the disparity in medical care between the insured and the uninsured. When chemotherapy made her bald, she decorated her head with henna swirls in front and an antiwar protest in back. During treatment, she also recorded the dailiness of life in Chicago as she rode the L, taught while one-breasted and attended High Holiday services and a Passover seder.

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All In My Head

Paula KamenDa Capo (paperback), March 2006

A black comedy, candid memoir and informed journalistic report, "All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Reasonable and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache" is about Paula Kamen's often absurd struggles to try to cure (but ultimately manage) one long 15-year migraine (now diagnosed as "chronic daily headache"), through odysseys through the extremes of both Western and alternative medicine. Meanwhile, the book stops to address different "big-picture" issues involved, such as framing chronic pain as a "women's issue." This book is the first one written on "chronic daily headache."

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The Canepa School of Dance

Jane Canepa
Arcadia Images of America Series, August 2006

The Canepa School of Dance was formed in Baraboo, Wis., in 1955. Tony Canepa, a businessman with a sideline, tap danced at the Sauk County fairgrounds as the "mystery merchant." Once identified, the handsome Tony and his lovely wife, Alberta, were asked to give dance lessons to youngsters in the area. The dancing duo eventually had 11 children, and as the school grew, so did the Dancing Canepa family. The book depicts the yearly dance recitals and performances by the family.

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Chicago's South Side Irish Parade

Chicago's Parade AmericaBridget Houlihan Kennedy
Arcadia Publishing, released Feb. 22, 2010

Part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series, "Chicago's South Side Irish Parade" by Bridget Houlihan Kennedy perfectly captures the images and stories of the parade's 31-year history. In "Chicago's South Side Irish Parade," Kennedy takes a look back at how the parade began, as well as its gradual rise in preeminence and crowds. The book highlights the parade's various grand marshals and special honorees, marriage proposals and politicians that made the parade the must-see event in Chicago each March. Considered to be one of the largest neighborhood-based St. Patrick's Day parades outside Dublin, Chicago's South Side Irish Parade began quite modestly, with 17 children younger than age 10 marching twice around the block. Dubbing themselves the "Wee Ones of Washtenaw and Talman," the founders of this great parade marched with homemade signs, costumes and a baby buggy while neighbors and family members cheered them on. Over the next 31 years, the parade grew into an annual event, attracting hundreds of thousands who came to celebrate Irish heritage with family and friends. In 2009, President Barack Obama encouraged Taoiseach Brian Cowen of Ireland to visit the parade, calling it "one of the great events in America."

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A Chicago Tavern

Rick Kogan
Lake Claremont, October 2006

"The book is slender, like a volume of poetry, and I immediately read it cover to cover. I would say that it is perfect celebratory and sad, a deft encapsulation of the present and an elegy to the past ... I put my copy on the shelf next to Joseph Mitchell's classic "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon." It seems to belong there," said Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times, of "A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse and the American Dream."

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Deconstructing Tyrone

Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Y. Moore
Cleis Press, October 2006

Tyrone is the black man seen through the media lens, through stereotype, through the eyes of black women. The authors of "Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation" examine black masculinity from a variety of perspectives, looking not for consensus but for insight. With chapters on Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, on the complicated relationship between women and hip-hop, on baby daddies, on gay black men on and off the so-called "down low," on strippers and their fathers, on black men in the office, at school and in jail.

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The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago

Margaret Littman
Avalon Travel Publishing, January 2007

What can you do with your pooch in Chicago when the sweltering summer temperatures make humans pant like poodles or the snow drifts pile up higher than your Great Dane? Turn to "The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago" for the inside scoop on the best parks, dog runs, beaches, forest preserves, pet-friendly businesses and much more. Local author Margaret Littman and her trusty companion, Natasha, have dug up many surprising resources available to dogs in the Windy City, such as baseball games, summer camps, lake cruises and indoor play areas. For the less outdoorsy dog, there are doggy spas, art openings and even synagogue services! Packed with wonderful illustrations, helpful maps, up-to-date leash laws and a useful "paw" ranking system for all locations in the book, "The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago" will become your pet's best friend as you enjoy this dog-loving city. First edition came out in 2003.

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Everyman News: The Changing American Front Page

Everyman NewsMichele Weldon
University of Missouri Press, 2008

The front pages of newspapers reveal a shift over the past few years: stories are more personal, more inclusive, less distant from readers experience. Journalist Michele Weldon takes a fresh look at how newspapers have carved out a narrative niche that reflects society's fascination with personal stories and readers demands for diversity in content. Comparing 160 front pages in twenty American newspapers for eight dates in 2001 and 2004, she shows a shift toward features over hard news, along with an increase in anecdotal or humanistic approaches to all stories. Forces such as blogs, citizen journalism, newsroom diversity, and other factors have converged to remake the front page, and Weldon unveils the content of everyman news as commodity apart from the mode of delivery. She also incorporates more than 50 interviews with people connected to journalism about what these changes mean.

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Finding Iris Chang

Finding Iris ChangPaula Kamen
Published by DaCapo, Paperback: December 2008

A Booksense pick, "Finding Iris Chang: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind" was named "favorite book of 2007" of the Chicago Tribune and CSPAN "Book TV" feature. It was called "a moving bio" by Entertainment Weekly (Dec. 19, 2008).

“Paula Kamen digs deep into the ambitious life and tragic death of her most successful friend … [and] offers the same meticulous attention to detail and thorough immersion in primary sources that distinguishes Chang’s exhaustively researched books,” said AWJ member Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader.

The book is about Paula Kamen's real-life search to connect the dots about the mysterious 2004 suicide of her friend, bestselling Chinese-American writer Iris Chang, the author of the blockbuster "The Rape of Nanking." Meanwhile, it profiles her glorious achievements and the tremendous burdens she assumed in becoming a superhuman symbol of activism and social justice to the Asian community. The book seeks to clear up rampant misunderstandings about the bipolar disorder, combined with hormonal events, that likely claimed her life. It also explores how journalists can survive in the long term covering dark topics, without being harmed by the toxic effects of their subjects. The book is based on a eulogy Kamen wrote about her for Salon.com.

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Guiding Yoga's Light

Guiding Yoga's LightNancy Gerstein
Published by Human Kinetics, August 2008

Moving beyond the physical aspects of yoga asana, "Guiding Yoga's Light" helps teachers and students explore the deeper concepts of yogic philosophy, while offering insight into the integration of yogic teachings into everyday life. Now its updated, expanded edition, "Guiding Yoga's Light" presents 74 easy-to-follow, succinct and illuminating lesson plans for beginning to advanced students. Each lesson embraces a wide array of yoga concepts undefined from teaching basic diaphragmatic breathing to mindfulness training to applying the yamas and niyamas into hatha practice. "Guiding Yoga's Light" interprets yoga's 5,000-year-old philosophy in an effort to inspire, delight and empower yoga students to enrich their physical, emotional and spiritual lives both on and off the mat.

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Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions

S. L. Wisenberg
University of Nebraska Press, September 2002. Paperback December 2006

This bracing and vivid collection of essays gives voice to what some American Jews feel but don't express about their uneasy state of mind. These essays creatively and sometimes audaciously address the question
of what it means to be an American Jew trying to negotiate overlapping identities undefined woman, writer and urban intellectual in search of a moral way.

“Equal parts Fran Lebowitz and Leon Wieseltier: smart and satisfying,” said Kirkus Reviews

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Homegrown and Handmade

Deborah Niemann
New Society Publishers, released October 2011

Our food system is dominated by industrial agriculture and has become economically and environmentally unsustainable. The incident of diet-related diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and heart disease, has skyrocketed. You can do more than you think to safeguard your health, your money and the planet. "Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living" shows how making things from scratch and growing at least some of your own food can help you eliminate artificial ingredients from your diet, reduce your carbon footprint and create a more authentic life. Deborah Niemann's comprehensive guide to food and fiber proves that attitude and knowledge are more important than acreage. This well-illustrated, practical and accessible manual will appeal to anyone longing for a simpler life.

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Jim Flint: The Boy from Peoria

Jim Flint: The Boy from PeoriaTracy Baim and Owen Keehnen
Prairie Avenue Productions, released November 2011

Burlesque meets Priscilla Queen of the Desert in the new biography of Jim Flint, founder and owner of the world-famous Baton Show Lounge in Chicago, where the finest of female impersonators have been strutting their stuff onstage for more than 40 years. Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria, by AWJ member Tracy Baim and Owen Keehnen, chronicles the unfettered life of this pioneer of the modern LGBT community. After a childhood of poverty and a stint in the Navy, Flint embodied his be-who-you-are philosophy at a time when conformity was king and to be openly gay was a risky business. Running a gay bar in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s meant placating corrupt cops and dealing with shadowy local Mafiosi, as Flint himself testified in a Mob trial in the early 1980s. During his flamboyant career, Flint also owned a down-and-dirty leather bar, headed a gay motorcycle club, threw lavish Halloween costume reviews, became a founder of the gay sports movement, created the now-nationwide Continental Pageant System, and ran for the Cook County Board of Commissioners as one of Chicago’s first openly gay candidates.

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I Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman

Michele Weldon
Hazelden Publishing, 1999

“And before I closed my eyes, I held my breath, knowing that sanity does not hold court here. With my own eyes closed, the image of his eyes stayed before me in the darkness, like the square image of a television screen or the fading imprint of a lamp’s white-hot bulb across the inside of your eyelids when you first surrender to sleep. In my darkness, I was swimming underwater, without sound and without weight, body-less, soul-less, lost, unable to breathe or speak or remember.” excerpt from "I Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman"

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In Our Prime

In Our PrimeKelly Kleiman, contributor
CreateSpace, 2010

AWJ member Kelly Kleiman is among more than 30 contributors in an anthology of essays by women from around the country and as far away as India about what's gently referred to as the second half of life. At times funny, sad, rueful and reflective, the book investigates a range of issues, including dealing with children as adults and parents as dependents. Edited by Seattle-based writer Nancy Griffin Worssam, the collection isn't an elegy for what's lost: It's a celebration of what women are finding. Kleiman's piece is a meditation on learning to let go.

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Inside Mrs. B's Classroom

Leslie Baldacci
McGraw-Hill, 2003

"It's a memoir of my first two years as a classroom teacher on the South Side of Chicago. After working at the Sun-Times for 15 years, I left in 1999 to become a teacher through an alternative certification program. I taught for a total of six years in Roseland and Chatham, then returned to the Sun-Times in July 2005. (Couldn't pay tuitions for my own kids on a schoolteacher's salary.) The book follows my rookie years teaching seventh grade, then second grade, as a teacher intern in Roseland. (I'm sending a copy to Rev. Meeks in hopes it will help him better understand who the real enemies are in public education today.)" Publisher's Weekly called it "beautiful and heartbreaking." It is used as a text in urban teacher preparation programs across the country.

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Out and Proud in Chicago

93284100023900M.gifEdited by Tracy Baim
Agate Publishing, 2008

This book is a unique opportunity to introduce an audience to the history of Chicago’s LGBT community. "Out and Proud in Chicago," Tracy Baim has compiled a one-of-a-kind historical record of LGBT culture in Chicago from the 19th century through the present. Filled with intriguing and often little-known information complemented by a remarkable breadth of historical photographs, the book illustrates the vitality and resilience of Chicago’s LGBT community, while tracing its evolution from sequestered subculture to prominent, diverse and valued community.

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Pedal Cars, Chasing the Kidillac

Pedal CarsJane Dwyre Garton
Schiffer Books, 1999

This book started as a volume for collectors of children’s steel pedal cars produced by toy companies for 75 years and became a presentation about history and culture, about industrial design and automotive history. The toys, considered moving sculptures by their owners, are chronicled through oral histories with elderly men women who made mini hubcaps and welded the little steel auto bodies. It is the story of very lasting products of Midwestern manufacturing for most of the 20th century. The book includes more than 500 photographs.

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Penny's Picks: 50 Movies by Women Filmmakers 02-11

Jan Lisa Huttner
FF2 Media, released December 2011

Film critic and AWJ member Jan Lisa Huttner asks: What accounts for the dearth of movies by female filmmakers in your local multiplex? As readers of this compilation will quickly discover, many wonderful films written and/or directed by women have been released in the past decade. The films are out there, but the audiences are not. If we support women filmmakers, we can redefine what consumers everywhere get to see on their movie screens.

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Shakespeare for Lawyers

Shakespeare for LawyersMeg Tebo
ABA Book Publishing, released March 2010

"Shakespeare for Lawyers: A Practical Guide to Quoting the Bard" reveals the practice of law is more than a job to those who do it. Once you learn that peculiar blend of Latin "spin" and double-speak known as legalese, you never look at anything quite the same again. Just ask anyone who is not a lawyer for confirmation that lawyers are indeed a different species of neighbors, friends, parents and coworkers.

According to author Meg Tebo, the camaraderie of having survived law school and the bar exam imbues the profession with a sort of "Hotel California" quality: You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Or in other words, once a lawyer, always a lawyer. "Shakespeare for Lawyers" commiserates with and celebrates that fact.

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Sidewalks: Portraits of Chicago

Rick Kogan and Charles Osgood
Northwestern University Press, November 2006

"When Rick Kogan and Charles Osgood take a detour to one of Chicago's sidewalks, they're telling us about the city's true main streets, where people work and live and love and dream and express themselves in a uniquely Chicago way. Kogan and Osgood are journalists, but they are also poets. This is an instant treasure," said Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times.

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The Sweetheart Is In

S.L. Wisenberg
TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press, May 2001

The yearnings of a little sister, the hazy memories of a concentration camp liberator and the romantic entanglements of political activists are portrayed in "The Sweetheart Is In," S.L. Wisenberg's first collection of short stories. Each of these edgy, lyrical stories creates its own universe in the space of a few pages even while overlapping characters and themes.

"The Sweetheart Is In' is a wonderfully varied collection emphasis on 'wonder,'" said Stuart Dybek.

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Taylor Street: Chicago’s Little Italy

Kathy Catrambone and Ellen Shubart
Arcardia, February 2007

This book is a pictorial history from the late 19th century and early 20th century, from when Jane Addams and Mother Cabrini guided the Italians on the road to Americanization, through the area’s vibrant decades, and to its sad story of urban renewal in the 1960s and its rebirth 25 years later. Some descendants of the early immigrants still live in the area. Although most have moved to the suburbs, their familial and emotional ties to Taylor Street cannot be broken.

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VegOut Vegetarian Guide to Chicago

VegOut Vegetarian Guide to ChicagoMargaret Littman
Gibbs Smith, 2005

Part of a groundbreaking series of guidebooks for vegetarian and vegan diners. The book rates vegetarian-friendly restaurants (at least 50 percent of the menu must be vegetarian) in the six-county area.

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Writing To Save Your Life

Michelle Weldon
Hazelden Publishing, Health Communications, Inc., 2001

“You need to call to your words, beckon them, listen for them, and offer them a safe place to arrive. If there is too much confusion and noise, the words inside you will retreat, like fish that see your wiggling feet in the splashing water and sense the bait is a trap. Writing is not passive, and it doesn’t happen without you, to you, or in spite of you. When I have done writing that is raw and honest, I am exhausted and energized at the same time, the way you feel after running or walking a mile very fast. It takes energy and concentration and a commitment to the Big Idea.” excerpt from "Writing to Save Your Life: How To Honor Your Story Through Journaling"

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Woman's Best Friend

Margaret Littman, contributor
Seal Press, April 2006

Margaret Littman is one of a collection of national authors who contributed to "Woman's Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives," an anthology edited by Megan McMorris.

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Submit Your Book

If you are a dues-paying member of AWJ Chicago, you can have you book listed. Send page editor Dawn Raftery the following information: 

  • Book Title
  • Author(s) Name
  • Book Publisher
  • Publication Date
  • Book Description/Blurb (about 100 words)
  • Web link