There are two things I love, (really like eighteen things, but for the purpose of this post, let’s call it two), Chicago and reading.
I also love reading about Chicago.
I used to to be the Books and Literature writer at Chicagoist. It was probably one of my favorite things in the world. I would read and read and write and write. I’m not exactly sure why I ever stopped. Dumb.
But I’ve been thinking about me and books and the city a lot, because (NOW I CAN TELL THE WORLD!) I’ll be doing “Neverwhere” Pedway Tours for the One Book, One Chicago program. This is so very cool. I read Neverwhere many years ago and then again a month ago and I think the tour is going to be really freaking awesome. I love tying in books to tours, I mean, shoot, how cool is that? I’m really thrilled to be doing something so Chicago-y and working with the library, it’s just all kind of awesome.
And thinking about it reminded me of other Chicago books, (not that Neverwhere is a “Chicago” book, but you know what I mean) that I love and I thought I’d just pencil a few in here, if you’re looking for something to read, you know.
On my tours I talk a lot about Charles Tyson Yerkes, he’s such a great Chicago story. If you’d like to learn more about Yerkes, I highly recommend The Trilogy of Desire by Theodore Dreiser. They consist of The Financier, The Titan and The Stoic. All great books based on the life of Mr. Yerkes, who was a crook and probably one of the greatest minds to pass through Chicago.
Also, another Dreiser and definitely one of my favorite books of all time, An American Tragedy. OH MY GOD, what a great book. If you know the movie, A Place in the Sun, then you are familiar with this story) it is a crazy story of a guy who tries to reach too high and then it just spirals you down…oh my gosh. Great Chicago book too.
Certainly there are the commercially popular books, Devil in the White City and The Time Traveler’s Wife. Again, loved both. Sure you have to suspend a bit of disbelief for the The Time Traveler’s Wife, but if you’re a romantic and you love Chicago, then it rules the school. And Devil in the White City (I originally wrote “Shit City” which I think is another good name for a Chicago book) is a one of a kind, awesomely awesome book.
Now, I read Augie March by Saul Bellow, it just wasn’t one of my favorites, but I still reccomend it because it’s just so cool to see what Chicago is like.
And for my failings? I have never read any Stuart Dybek. I KNOW I KNOW. I know. I will. I promise.
What are some other great Chicago books?
Mayor Daley at the One Book, One Chicago announcement: