Writer Wednesday Welcomes Back: Karen Wojcik Berner!

I’m excited to welcome back a lovely lady author today. She comes to us as part of her blog tour with the fabulous Wow! Women on Writing.  Karen is a bibliophile with a message. And while she’s here to celebrate the release of her new title, Until My Soul Gets It Right, she has graciously offered up this fun post on a place she knows and loves! Please welcome Karen!

One lucky commenter gets a copy of Karen’s new release, so don’t be shy! Crop a note and say “Hi!”

A Bibliophile’s Guide to Chicagoland

Thanks so much for having me here today, Julie.

My series, The Bibliophiles, takes place mostly in the Chicago suburbs, but in my latest book, “Until My Soul Gets It Right (The Bibliophiles: Book Two),” Catherine Elbert decides she needs to escape her family’s Wisconsin farm for some greener pastures, farm pun intended. ((Groan.)) Anyhow, Catherine bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self, traveling from Portland, Maine clear across the continent to San Diego, California. Eventually, she ends up in Chicagoland, my home turf.

Chicago is a great literary city with a reputation for gritty, social realism both in its fiction as well as its poetry. Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie,” a tale of what can happen when a country girl loses herself in the big city is set here, as well as James T. Farrell’s “Studs Lonigan,” which focuses on the lives of Irish-Americans during the Great Depression. Upton Sinclair’s famous “The Jungle” portrays life working in Chicago’s early meat-packing plants. A part of the old Union Stock Yard Gate is still standing today on Exchange Avenue and Peoria Street.

More recently, Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time-Travelers Wife” takes place in Chicago, along with the non-fictional “Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson. Hard-boiled detective V.I. Warshawski lives here, as does her creator, Sara Paretsky. “Presumed Innocent” author Scott Turow also calls Chicago home.

Here are some of Chicago’s great literary sites.

Carl Sandburg House, 4646 N. Hermitage Avenue, Chicago. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Sandburg (1878-1967) is best known for the famous “Chicago” poem in which he describes “The City of the Big Shoulders.” Sandburg lived here when he wrote for “The Chicago Daily News.” He is also penned a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, the last of which earned him the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1940.

Nelson Algren House, 1958 West Evergreen Street, Chicago. Algren (1909-1981) often wrote about the American Dream gone awry while he lived on the third floor of this building. Winner of three O. Henry Awards, both the International Writers Guild PEN and Chicago Tribune have fiction contests named after Algren. He won the National Book Award for his 1949 novel, “The Man with the Golden Arm.”

The University of Chicago, Hyde Park, on Chicago’s south side. Among its many illustrious alumni are Saul Bellow, author of “Adventures of Augie March,” and Studs Terkel, known for his personal stories of average people in “Working” and “Division Street: America.”

The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago. Chicago’s independent research library, it houses a collection of rare books, manuscripts, music and maps spanning six centuries, including letters from President John Adams and his family and manuscripts from Nelson Algren, Sara Paretsky and Ben Hecht.

Gwendolyn Brooks Home, 4334 S. Champion, Chicago. The first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize, Brooks is best known for her “Selected Poems” and “A Street in Bronzeville,” as well as many essays and reviews. She was Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and taught at many local colleges.

Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, 200 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois. Out in the near-western suburbs stands the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning author of “A Farewell to Arms,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “The Sun Also Rises.” Hemingway spent his first twenty years in Oak Park and attended Oak Park-River Forest High School.

Which Chicago literary site would you be most interested in visiting?


Until My Soul Gets It Right by: Karen Wojcik Berner

The ladies (and man) of the Bibliophiles Book Club are back! This time the spotlight is on Catherine. Catherine Elbert has never been good at making decisions, whether it was choosing an ice cream flavor as a child or figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. The only thing Catherine knew for sure was there had to be more to her life than being stuck on her family’s farm.

So Catherine became enamored with the complete opposite of the flat farmlands of Burkesville, Wisconsin – the ocean, lobsters, and rugged coast of Portland, Oregon. Despite her parents’ threat to disown her and her brothers’ bets on how many days until she comes home Catherine heads for Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland.

She is finally free. Or so she thought. What Catherine forgot was that you can’t run away from yourself!

About the Author:

Karen Wojcik Berner lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in the Chicago suburbs. If it was good enough for Jane Austen, right? However, dear Miss Austen had the good fortune of being born amid the glorious English countryside, something Karen unabashedly covets, so much so that she majored in English and communications at Dominican University. Like the magnificent Miss Austen, Karen could not help but write about the Society that surrounds her.

A booklover since she could hold one in her chubby little toddler hands, Karen wanted to announce to the world just how much she loves the written word. She considered getting a bibliophile tattoo but instead decided to write about the lives of the members of a suburban Classics Book Club. The series is called, of course, The Bibliophiles. When she isn’t reading, writing, or spending her
time wishing she was Jane Austen, Karen spends her time can be found sipping tea or wine, whichever is more appropriate that day, and watching Tim Burton movies or “Chopped,” her favorite foodie TV show.

Find Karen on the Web:

Karen Berner’s website:



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