chicago readers discussion

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message 1: by Christy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Christy (readingkiki) | 18 comments Mod
hi there! let's start things off on the right foot: what's your favorite chicago-related book?


message 2: by Mike (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Mike | 1 comments Now that I think about it, I don't have one. Having been born and raised here I may have unconsciously picked settings more inaccessible to read about.

I do enjoy seeing references to Chicago in print, even the bad ones.


message 3: by Katie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Katie | 2 comments I really like House on Mango Street. I think that's my favorite.


message 4: by Jennie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Jennie | 1 comments Devil in the White City is my favorite. It's nonfiction, but also a page-turner. You learn a lot about Chicago during the World's Fair days.


message 5: by Christy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Christy (readingkiki) | 18 comments Mod
great choices. jennie, did you see that the harold washington library has an exhibit of amuseument parks in chicago, starting with the world's fair? i haven't seen that one yet, but i know the history museum has some good memorabilia from the 1893 fair.
my favorite recent chicago book is definitely "the time traveler's wife," and going back a little farther i loved "city on the make" by nelson algren.


message 6: by ba (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:35AM) (new)

ba | 6 comments Hello all.

I recently read Crossing California. It's not that well-written, but takes place in the early 80's in Rogers Park, and the main characters are around my age (I was in jr high/high school then). The book is peppered with landmarks and businesses I used to frequent and even has details like when they redid Warren park. So, if you're in my age range and from the North Side (Lincolnwood, in my case), you may well enjoy the nostalgia factor.


Also, I second Devil in the White City. An interesting companion, if you like bleak comics, is Jimmy Corrigan The Smartest Kid on Earth. One of the storylines takes place during the building of the White City, and artist Chris Ware extensively researched old photos before drawing those parts. At a recent show of his work at the MCA, they had some of his drawings displayed side-by-side with historical documents he drew from, and it was quite faithfully done.


message 7: by Dan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Dan | 2 comments Hi All; I very much enjoyed Devil in the White City and, while I can't say I enjoy Chris Ware, I also can't stop reading him.

That said, my favorite Chicago-intensive books are by Stuart Dybek; his story collections "Childhood and Other Neighborhoods" and "The Coast of Chicago" are Chicago to me; dark, gritty, bizarre, hopeful, swaggering, and humble. He also is the author of a powerful little collection of poetry called Brass Knuckles, which is thoroughly permeated with the essence of the city. If I had to categorize him, I'd say he was a homegrown magic realist, and I'll read anything by him.


message 8: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Erin My favorite book featuring Chicago is the Jungle by upton Sinclair. I love the brutal honesty contained in that book and the hopelessness of some of the characters.

I also really enjoyed Devil in the White City. FYI, fleet feet does an excellent FREE historic run touring the main sites of the columbian expedition. They do a really nice job of detailing the history that went on at each site. The run is about 5 miles long with frequent stops to learn about the history of the area. It should be scheduled for this fall! check it out!

Also, I loved Native Son by Richard Wright which takes place in chicago. Also, the play Raisin in the Sun is excellent as well.


message 9: by ba (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

ba | 6 comments If I may add another Chicago book, I highly recommend Kerner: THE CONFLICT OF INTANGIBLE RIGHTS. Briefly, Kerner was an Chicago politician in the days of mayor Anton Cermak, who went on to become Governor of Illinois, and author of the groundbreaking Kerner Commission Report which arguably set the basic democratic policies on civil rights through the present. He ended up jailed and disgraced by the forces of Richard Nixon and died a broken man. There's a lot in this book about Chicago politics and the formation of the "Democratic Machine" that still rules the city.


message 10: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Joseph | 3 comments Probably Mike Royko's Boss, probably the best political biography of the 20th Century. It's just as much a profile of Chicago as it is Daley, and it's a (of all things) loving look at the city and the man, taking both to task for their failing to live up to their potential.


message 11: by rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:53AM) (new)

rachel (shindels) | 3 comments If you haven't yet read My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King, you've missed out. It's terrifyingly good (not in the least because I used to live on the corner where much of the story took place). First-person account of a Latin King gang member, if you hadn't guessed.


message 12: by Katie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:54AM) (new)

Katie | 2 comments Has anyone read American Pharoah? I've heard it was good, and wondering what others thought.


message 13: by Poppy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Poppy | 1 comments A second for the Jungle, which I read long before I moved here (it's lucky I kind of forgot it was a Chicago book or I would have been skeered to eat the meat ...)

Most recent for me are Jen Lancaster's books: Bitter is the New Black and Bright Lights, Big Ass. Well-written, funny, and give a great sense of the city.

Another that isn't as well-written, but is an engrossing mystery with lots of roman a clef stuff about Gold Coast types is Well Bred and Dead, by Catherine O'Connell. It's based on a true Chicago factoid: writer David Grafton, who wrote biographies of society women, was found dead in his apartment in Chicago. Then it was discovered that he wasn't who he said he was. O'Connell took this germ of a story and made it into a page-turning mystery story.


message 14: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:59AM) (new)

Clare | 9 comments I've heard it's very good as well, will probably borrow it from a friend soon.


message 15: by Clare (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:59AM) (new)

Clare | 9 comments The Jungle is number one for me.


message 16: by Nate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:00PM) (new)

Nate (innatejames) | 6 comments I second The Time Traveler's Wife. The narrative takes a little getting used to, but once you're in it, you realize that the love story wouldn't have worked as well in any other city.

It mentions Bookman's Alley several times and if you ever go to Evanston, you have to stop in there and check it out! Niffenegger describes it perfectly.


message 17: by John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:02PM) (new)

John Anything by Stuart Dybek. I Sailed with Magellan is particularly good.


message 18: by Nate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:07PM) (new)

Nate (innatejames) | 6 comments Stuart Dybek was one of my professors at Western Michigan University. great teacher and a very sweet man. Funny that I never read him.


message 19: by Steveg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

Steveg | 1 comments To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire is a powerful book about this tragic event in Chicago history.


message 20: by Suzanne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:23PM) (new)

Suzanne | 1 comments I echo The Time Traveler's Wife. Honestly, it's not that great of a book, but something really engaged me, and I think it was the Chicago setting.

But my favorite would probably have to be Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. Such a great example of determinism early 20th century fiction.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

It would have to be House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It is a well written book that explores San Antonio and Chicago, the two cities that I have lived in.


message 22: by amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

amy | 3 comments Yes!! Boss = Chicago


message 23: by Kristy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Kristy I just picked up W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge and much to my delight the book veers back and forth between Chicago and Paris! And it's also quite good so far.


message 24: by Martin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Martin (martinmiw) | 2 comments I just finished "The We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris. It is set in a Chicago ad agency in 2001, and has a bunch of very specific mentions of places in the city (like the Borders at Water Tower Place) as well as the city in general, and neighboring suburbs. It is also an absolutely wonderful book.


message 25: by kkurtz (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:46PM) (new)

kkurtz | 1 comments I agree w/Josh...it all begins w/anything by Algren.
but then there's always Richard Wright, too (hello, Native Son!?!)


message 26: by Keith (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:50PM) (new)

Keith Betton | 3 comments I reading Native Son right now (so far I think it interesting). I would also like to add Sister Carrie to the list of Chicago base books.


message 27: by Erik (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new)

Erik (erik_w) | 2 comments I recently read Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno. Lots of actual locations and places (especially on the South Side) where I grew up. Man, that was weird...


message 28: by Judy"Intergalactic Bookworm" (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Judy"Intergalactic Bookworm" | 4 comments Hi-

This is newcomer Judy and I live in Oak Lawn, right on the southwest border. If you go to roughly 103rd and Pulaski or 87th and Cicero, those are the two places where Oak Lawn borders Chicago and I call 87th and Cicero the 4 towns corners as Oak Lawn is on the southwest corner, Burbank on the northwest corner, Chicago on the northeast corner and Hometown on the southeast corner. Right now my favorite Chicago series is the Christian fiction series The Yada Yada Prayer Group. It is set on the North side of Chicago. The people are very "real" to me and a lot of the time I depend on public transportation and when she mentions "L" stops, I can picture them in my mind, along with most of the other locations mentioned in the series.


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