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Meet André Smith: Library and Reading Champion!

Less than a month into Read-A-Thon, André, Associate Attorney at McDermott Will & Emery and the Vice President of the Library Foundation’s Associate Board, has knocked his reading goal out of the park!

André shares his Read-A-Thon tips and tricks—and some of his favorite reads!

What’s your Read-A-Thon goal?

I set a reading goal of 10 books. I set it fairly low so I could feel good once I beat it. Generally, my goal is to read as much as I can in such a short amount of time. Every year, I try to set a goal to read a certain number of books and I never make it, but Read-A-Thon allows me to post and log my books, giving me the motivation to read more and more.

How many books have you read so far?

I think I’ve gotten up to 20 books!

How have you been able to read so many just a few weeks in?

I’ve been scouring all over for 100–150-page books—and I also have gotten into audiobooks. I listen to them at 2x the speed. I started doing everything at more than regular speed. When I was studying for the bar exam, I’d always listen to videos at 2x the speed because they would be four-hour lectures. So, I got used to listening to people speak at that speed. When I go into the office, I walk and listen to an audiobook, too.

What are your favorite genres?

Normally, historical fiction or philosophy. One of my favorite authors is Albert Camus. His books are philosophical and often they’re 100-200 pages. I reread The Stranger by Camus for Read-A-Thon!

What’s been your favorite book to read during Read-A-Thon?

It’s actually one that I wasn’t expecting! It’s called The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb. It’s about a Black violinist who is about to compete in this big international competition, but his million-dollar violin gets stolen. The story is about figuring out who stole it.

Normally, “whodunnits” are about murderers, but this one was about a violin. It also tackled racism and socioeconomic issues—I like that it had those elements while still being a classic mystery. And the twist—who stole the violin—was not who I expected. It was so satisfying!

Were there other books that surprised you?

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun. I had never read a romance novel before, but it was a cute book! I try to go out of my typical genres just to keep things interesting.

What’s been your favorite thing about participating in Read-A-Thon?

My favorite thing is getting to do something I love (like reading) but for a good cause. I’ve raised $681 so far! And it gives me that extra push to read a lot of books throughout the year instead of not having a structure.

Do you have reader tips for fellow readers?

Find a lot of short books. The good thing about short books is even if you find them boring, it’s not like you’ll spend a lot of time on it. And try genres you wouldn’t normally read.

What made you want to serve on the Library Foundation Associate Board?
I’m also on the Board of the Stories Matter Foundation.  They run writing classes in Ravenswood. So, I’m used to being around literary people, writers, and of course, I love reading. During the pandemic, I wanted to find something to participate in the community while also doing something I like and am passionate about. I felt that the Library Foundation Associate Board was a perfect fit.

What’s your Library story?

Libraries have always been a big part of my life, ever since being a child. Before my parents got a computer at home, I would type my middle school papers at the library, so, the library has always been a resource for me. Participating in something like Read-A-Thon and the Associate Board, raising money for Chicago Public Library, is something I’m passionate about because I think having access to these public institutions, especially for people who might not have the resources to access them, is vitally important.

You can see a full list of Andre’s reads or donate to his page here. Want to book your reading adventure, too? Sign up for Read-A-Thon 2022 at