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Benefiting Bernie’s Book Bank

The Return of a Signature Event

In 2012, Bernie’s Book Bank held its first Book Lovers’ Lunch – North Shore benefit to support its mission to create pathways to success through book ownership among local children. Finally, after a multi-year hiatus, Bernie’s Book Bank once again hosted a Book Lovers’ Lunch. The special afternoon included drinks, lunch, and valuable words from our speakers. Local educator Sarah Chambers spoke about her experience as an educator whose school receives books from Bernie’s Book Bank. Lisa Barr shared her journey to become an author, the inspiration behind her upcoming book The Goddess of Warsaw, and answered questions from guests. 

2024 Book Lovers’ Lunch Keynote Speaker

About Lisa Barr

Lisa Barr is the New York Times bestselling author of Woman on Fire, the Unbreakable, and the award-winning historical thriller Fugitive Colors. She has served as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Women and Moment magazine, and as an editor and reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. She has appeared on Good Morning America and Today for her work as an author, journalist, and blogger. Actress Sharon Stone is set to produce and star in the film adaptation of Woman on Fire.


Bernie’s Book Bank is proud to have hosted esteemed authors as the Book Lovers’ Lunch keynote speaker. View the full list of previous featured authors here.

9th Annual Book Lovers’ Events (Virtual) series featuring Charnaie Gordon, Frank Murphy, Kimberly Jones, Gilly Segal, Elizabeth Berg and Jenna Blum (Fall 2020)

September 23 – Featuring Charnaie Gordon & Frank Murphy – Charnaie Gordon is a computer programmer by day, blogger and influencer by night. Charnaie’s blog, Here Wee Read, is where she expresses her creativity and passion for reading, diverse literature, and literacy. Frank Murphy is the author of the award-winning children’s books “A Boy Like You” and “A Girl Like You” which encourage children to embrace what makes them unique, to choose kindness, and to be their own advocates.

October 21 – Featuring Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal – Kimberly Jones is an African American prolific novelist, director, human rights activist, and brilliant thespian who has become a change-agent within the literary world and in the Black Lives Matter movement. Gilly Segal is a lawyer for an advertising agency and has been writing since she was young. Kimberly and Gilly co-wrote the New York Times Best-Selling YA Novel “I’m Not Dying With You Tonight”.

November 18 – Featuring Elizabeth Berg & Jenna Blum – Elizabeth Berg is the author of 30 novels including “I’ll Be Seeing You” which just released on October 27, 2020. She has won the NEBA award for her body of work. Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels “Those Who Save Us,” “The Stormchasers,” and “The Lost Family.”

8th Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch and 2nd Annual Book Lovers’ Breakfast featuring Clayton “Astro Clay” Anderson (May 3, 2019)

Clayton “Astro Clay” Anderson is a NASA astronaut and award-winning author. Clay, Nebraska’s only astronaut, spent 167 days in space and executed 6 spacewalks consisting of 38 hours and 28 minutes. He applied to be an astronaut with NASA 15 times, prior to being selected in 1998, and has spent over 30 years working for NASA as an engineer and an astronaut.

Succeeding in one of the most difficult and coveted jobs in the world through perseverance and a never-give-up mantra, Clay employs NASA’s “Plan, Train and Fly (Execute)” philosophy to all his speaking engagements and projects. Coupled with lessons learned in the areas of leadership, persistence and passion, he provides unique and “out of this world” insights for those seeking to achieve practical execution.

He is the author of the award-winning book, The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut, and children’s books A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet and It’s a Question of Space: An Ordinary Astronaut’s Answers to Sometimes Extraordinary Questions.

7th Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch and 1st Annual Book Lovers’ Breakfast featuring Mary Kubica (May 4, 2018)

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of four novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY and EVERY LAST LIE.

A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, where she enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.

Her first novel THE GOOD GIRL was an Indie Next pick in August of 2014, received a Strand Critics Nomination for Best First Novel and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in Debut Goodreads Author and in Mystery & Thriller for 2014. Mary’s novels have been translated into over twenty languages and have sold over a million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune) and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).

6th Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch featuring Melanie Benjamin (May 12, 2017)

Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling historical novels The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife. Her previous historical novels include the national bestseller Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. Her novels have been translated in over fifteen languages, featured in national magazines and optioned for film. Melanie lives in Chicago with her husband, and near her two grown sons. In addition to writing, she puts her theatrical training to good use by being a member of the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau. When she isn’t writing or speaking, she’s reading. And always looking for new stories to tell.

5th Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch featuring Jen Lancaster (May 6, 2016)

Jen Lancaster is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve previous books (Best of Enemies; I Regret Nothing; Twisted Sisters; The Tao of Martha; Here I Go Again; Jeneration X; If You Were Here; My Fair Lazy; Pretty in Plaid; Such a Pretty Fat; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Bitter is the New Black). She has appeared on Today, The Joy Behar Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and their ever-expanding menagerie of ill-behaved pets.

4th Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch featuring Allison Pataki (May 1, 2015)

Allison Pataki’s books of historical fiction spotlight impactful women whose stories are largely untold. She brings to life the most infamous betrayal in American history in her bestselling debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife. Allison’s second novel, The Accidental Empress, which gives readers a glittery glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, jumped to #7 on The New York Times bestseller list during its first week of release.

A former news writer and producer, Allison has written for The New York Times, ABC News, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and other outlets. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Fox & Friends, Good Day New York, Good Day Chicago and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Allison graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years in journalism before switching to fiction writing. A member of The Historical Novel Society, Allison lives in New York with her husband and daughter.

3rd Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch featuring Luis Alberto Urrea (May 9, 2014)

Luis Alberto Urrea’s early love of reading, encouraged by his parents, provided a pathway from poverty and a bridge to other lands, people, and experiences. After high school, Luis completed his undergraduate degree at UC-San Diego and graduate work at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He then served as a relief worker in Tijuana, his birthplace, and as a film editor and columnist-editor-cartoonist for several publications. Luis moved to Boston where he taught expository and fiction workshops at Harvard. He also taught at the university level in Massachusetts and Colorado, has been a writer-in-residence at University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Luis’ extraordinary literary output spans the range of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, short stories and essays. His topics include pressing immigration issues, interpersonal relationships, poverty, nature and sweeping sagas of ancestors. With awards too numerous to mention, Luis has taken the literary world by storm, yet he remains humble and approachable.

2nd Annual Book Lovers’ Lunch featuring Lisa Genova (May 3, 2013)

Lisa Genova, whose work has been deemed “pure genius,” is the bestselling author of Still Alice, Left Neglected and Love Anthony. With a Harvard Ph. D in neuroscience, Lisa writes books that illustrate life’s challenges from a most genuine and empathetic perspective. It is no wonder that she is a New York Times bestselling author and has won numerous awards for her writing.

Lisa is a world-renowned expert on the medical conditions she discusses in her books and has made numerous television and film appearances. A play based on her first novel, Still Alice, was performed on stage at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre.

1st Annual Book Lovers’ Brunch featuring Maggie Shipstead

Maggie Shipstead was born is 1983 in Orange County, CA. Her short fiction has appeared in Tin House, VQR, Ecotone, The Missouri Review, American Short Fiction, Glimmer Train, The Mississippi Review, Gulf Coast, FiveChapters, Subtropics, and The Best American Short Stories 2010. “La Moretta,” a story published in VQR, was a 2012 National Magazine Award finalist for fiction. Maggie is a graduate of Harvard University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford Fellow at Stanford, and a resident at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris. Seating Arrangements is her first novel.

Books do so many things for us, they inspire us, they educate us, they teach us empathy, they are a wonderful escape, and they make us feel many things.

Mary Kubica

New York Times Bestselling Author