"The Brain"

Chris Messick, Mercantile Library Marketing Manager

Sep 17, 2014 at 9:09 am

Founded in 1835, the Mercantile Library (414 Walnut St., 11th Floor, mercantilelibrary.com) is one of downtown’s hidden treasures. A members-only library ($55 annually), its spiral iron staircase, leather club chairs and Grecian busts complement its collection of historic and new books and it has overseen a slew of literary workshops, forums and author lectures from the likes of Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates and Salman Rushdie for more than 175 years. Their upcoming Niehoff Lecture features author and literary activist Ann Patchett.


What is your favorite thing about fall in Cincinnati?

Chris Messick:

I love the way everyone seems a bit more cheerful and accommodating in the fall. … We know there are only a few nice days before the bone-chilling arctic cold sets in, so we’re determined to enjoy it. I’m also a big fan of wool clothing. … To me, the real first day of fall is the first day I can comfortably wear tweed.


What’s an annual fall event you look forward to each year?


My wife is really into the whole pumpkin patch scene, so my family gets dragged … I mean, we enjoy and look forward to going to Young’s Dairy Farm in Yellow Springs every fall.  


Is there anything in particular this fall that you’re looking forward to?


There are many, many brainy events happening this fall. Nick Zammuto, formerly of nerdy musical collage duo The Books, will be at Southgate. I saw The Books play at the Contemporary Arts Center a few years back, and they were great. As a film nerd, I’m curious to see how the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will handle Hitchcock’s The Birds. And as a nerd in general, I’m psyched about Ira Glass coming to the Aronoff. I’m a librarian first and foremost, though, so I always get excited about the two big book events of the fall: the Mercantile Library’s Niehoff Lecture and the Books by the Banks festival. For my money, the Niehoff Lecture is the premier literary event in the city. … It’s our major annual fundraiser, so it’s a little pricey, but it’s a lot of fun, and the money goes to a good cause (us). Finally, the Books by the Banks book festival has really been growing over the past few years. It’s always a fun time, especially if you have children.


What cocktail says “fall” to you?


When fall rolls around, I focus on the brown liquor during the cocktail hour. I make a mean Manhattan and an even meaner Old Fashioned, but this year I’m thinking I may outsource some of my cocktail preparation, specifically to the folks at The Littlefield in Northside. Of course, like any civilized person I will never turn down a dram of single malt scotch. Ever.

Picks for “The Brain”

Books by the Banks: An annual celebration of books and reading, this day-long festival features national, regional and local authors and illustrators for book signings, panel discussions and activities. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 11. Free. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, booksbythebanks.org. 

The Birds

: Cincy Shakes tackles this classic Hitchcock thriller just in time for Halloween. Oct. 17-Nov. 8. $22-$36. 719 Race St., Downtown, cincyshakes.com.

Mercantile Library’s Niehoff Lecture: The 27th installment of the series features novelist and essayist Ann Patchett. 7 p.m. Oct. 18. $175. Presidential Ballroom, Westin Hotel, 21 E. Fifth St., Downtown, mercantilelibrary.com.

Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass: NPR’s bespectacled grey fox and host of This American Life recreates the sound of a show in front of a live audience by mixing favorite stories with pre-taped quotes and music. 8 p.m. Oct. 25. $28.75-$48.75. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Zammuto: The Books’ Nick Zammuto takes a new path with this Indie/Electronic outfit. 8:30 p.m. Nov. 4. $12 advance; $14 day of. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., soutgatehouse.com.