By Gary Gibula, Special to the Tribune
12:38 AM EST, December 30, 2012
When newly transplanted Naperville resident Elizabeth Page Gretz went looking for a book about restaurants, shopping, places to go and things to do in the city, she couldn't find one.
"They told me that would be a good idea for a book," Gretz said, after visiting a local bookstore.
As a result, the mother of three and first-time author has written a book to answer all her questions, "Live and Laugh in Naperville."
In addition to information like addresses and phone numbers for stores, services and activities for children, the 230-page manual also includes numerous feature articles on civic organizations and leaders such as 360 Youth Services, the public library and the police and fire chiefs.
Gretz and her husband, a Naperville native, had been living in a two-bedroom Chicago condominium with their three children when they decided to move in 2006.
"The day I moved to Naperville was truly the first time I'd ever driven here," Gretz said. "I had no sense of direction at all. It was the first time I'd ever lived in a single-family house and it was all new, interesting and fascinating to me."
Gretz said she had a difficult time finding critical information "like knowing where and how to engage one, two and three-year-old children."
Along the way, Gretz discovered for herself the city's amenities and destinations.
"The most fascinating aspect to me, in terms of places to go, was Naper Settlement," Gretz said. "I'd always thought it was simply an old piece of property with a schoolroom, but I found it to be one of the most spectacular venues in Naperville. You can baptize your child there, you can get married there, you can decorate a Christmas tree there, you can re-enact the Civil War there."
After completing her initial draft, Gretz said her husband suggested the reference read like a phone book.
"So I spotlighted 15 community leaders," Gretz said. "They were all so fascinating, especially the mayor. He was my biggest fan in writing this book."
"It's a great source of information," said Naperville Mayor George Pradel, who wrote the introduction to 'Live and Laugh in Naperville.' "I think this book needed to be written because it has a lot of insight and is written in a fun way. It's got good information, it's up to date and everything you need to know is in one place."
Gretz said she had limited writing experience in her previous career as a wedding planner.
"We did a bridal show every year at the Palmer House, and I put together a book for the participants," Gretz said.
Leaving the wedding business behind when her family moved to Naperville, Gretz is now employed as a real estate broker.
Gretz self-published her book and had a book-signing event in December at Anderson's Bookshop.
"We haven't put into place any massive marketing campaign because of all the little considerations that go with self-publishing a book," Gretz said. "But this was a huge goal of life accomplished."
Gretz' book is available at Anderson's Bookshop and online at liveandlaughinnaperville.com.