Best Festival for Nerds, Geeks, and People Who Harbor Serious Crushes on Authors and Public Intellectuals

Chicago Humanities Festival

Critics' Picks

October 25-November 9, chicagohumanities.org

In a different sort of world we'd grow up swapping cards with pictures and fun facts about our favorite economists, reading comic books about the adventures of physicists and anthropologists, and hanging up centerfolds of Paris Review interview subjects in our lockers. We'd throw parties—with themed cocktails!—to celebrate the announcement of the Nobel Prize laureates and wait in line all night outside bookstores (or at least sitting in front of our computers hitting "refresh") just so we could get tickets to readings. But that's not the world we live in—except when the Chicago Humanities Festival comes around each fall. For 25 years now, Chicagoans have been packing themselves into the city's auditoriums to listen to authors and artists discuss their work and scholars lecture on subjects as varied as Shakespeare's sonnets and the culture of Neanderthals. Then they wait in long lines to get autographs and the chance to exchange a few words. (Many have also stood outside closed doors pleading desperately to be allowed into sold-out events.) This year's theme is "Journeys." Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson will be here. Maybe they'll inspire some full-out Beatlemania screaming.