Chicago’s live lit scene is having a moment. That’s the general idea, anyway, behind the city’s first Lit Crawl, a free event popularized in San Francisco that will debut in Andersonville in a one-night-only performance-palooza. On Thursday, dozens of members of the city’s literati will take the stage, simultaneously, in three hourlong blocks across a handful of Andersonville’s most beloved venues, including Hopleaf and Simon’s. Not sure how to navigate this literary carnival? Here is a curated list of 14 great readers and events to add to your agenda. (For the full schedule, visit or download the Lit Crawl app.)

Adventure Library

Actors begin reading a well-known novel, then, with audience input, improvise a new version.

Allison Torem

The Lookingglass alum is sure to bring some emotional wallop to any topic she tackles.

Call Me Ishmael

This art installation-cum-pay phone allows readers to listen to messages recorded by other lit lovers on the books that shaped them.

Carly Oishi

Once crowned the Worst Dater in Illinois by Steve Harvey, Oishi brings wry, self-deprecating humor to stories about cell phone breakups and why sleepovers suck.


Sketch comics dip into the weird, blending live lit with old-timey radio theatrics.

Chad the Bird

Listening to Chad the Bird—the creation of actor Josh Zagoren—is like sitting next to a witty drunk guy at a bar, but in puppet form.


Beat poet James Gordon (a.k.a. Greatest Poet Alive) is a habitual Moth winner thanks to his romantic lyrics and sonorous, scratchy voice.

Gwynn Funcher

A writer for WBEZ’s PleasureTown, Fulcher has a reputation for a sharp eye and deliciously detailed characters.

Ian Belknap

The irascible Write Club creator, known for his lack of filter, tackles topics from fame to religion with his impassioned screeds.

Jasmine Davila

The live lit vet touches on nonironic Viagra Triangle dinners and her passion for “Big Poppa” with a meandering style.

Muffy Fishbasket

A favorite local drag queen, Fishbasket will read from picture books by Dr. Seuss and Margaret Wise Brown alongside fellow queens Coco Sho-Nell and Ashley Morgan.

Sam Bailey

Bailey performs fearless live lit, telling stories of women and people of color. At the Crawl, she jokes, she and her co-readers “will probably braid each other’s hair and talk about our periods.”

Sarah Hollenbeck

A fixture on the scene, Hollenbeck has killed it sharing her hatred of cats and elicited tears talking about her facial paralysis. She’ll curate and host a night of readings from some of her favorite local authors.

The Arrow

Performers interrupt and edit one another during live stage readings and performances in this hourlong variety show.