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8 New Chicago Books

Chicago has a vibrant literary history that continues to thrive. There's a wealth of classic published works covering the city's story from its beginnings, and quite a few recent books illuminate the many facets of present day Chicago. For residents and visitors, reading up about the past and present (be it fiction or fact) enriches the experience of the city and the region, and gives readers a heightened sense of place. With a stronger connection to one's surroundings, the ordinary is made special and the familiar is made new again. Here's a selection of recent Chicago-related books to consider for your spring/summer reading list.

ACM: Another Chicago Magazine


Yes, it's actually a literary magazine, but January's issue of ACM (Another Chicago Magazine) is more like an anthology of current Chicago-related literature. Partly a celebration of 50 issues, and partly a response to Granta's recent (and very popular) "Chicago" issue, ACM's "Another Chicago Issue" features 190 pages of poems, stories and other pieces all about the city and mostly by local authors.

Body Work

Body Work

By Sara Paretsky
$26.95, Putnam Adult,

Popular Chicago crime novelist Sara Paretsky's 14th novel featuring PI V.I. Warshawski is set in the city's avant-garde art scene. The book follows Warshawski as she investigates the murder of a painter and tries to clear the name of the prime suspect, an Iraqi war veteran.

Life On Line

Life, on the Line:

A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
By Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas
$27, Gotham Books,

Renowned chef Grant Achatz and his business partner, Nick Kokonas, co-authored this just-released memoir of growing up in a culinary environment, developing a unique approach to cooking, opening Alinea, and dealing with a serious cancer diagnosis. The book reveals Achatz's passion for food and the business philosophy behind one of the most artistic and innovative restaurants in North America, making this a must-read for local foodies.


Royko in Love

By Mike Royko, edited by David Royko
$24, University of Chicago Press,

While Mike Royko's newspaper columns rarely addressed his personal life, the subject of his most famous column, "November Farewell," was the untimely passing of his first wife, Carol. The piece is included in this collection of Royko's heartfelt correspondence with his childhood sweetheart. The long-distance love letters were written to Carol while Royko was stationed at Blaine Air Force Base in Washington, and are all the more compelling as the written word was his only means of winning her over.

Slow Trains

Slow Trains Overhead

By Reginald Gibbons
$20, University of Chicago Press,

Poet and fiction writer Reginald Gibbons is a long-serving professor at Northwestern University, and his connection to Chicago is revealed and celebrated in this recent book of poems. Its pages contain vividly-rendered street-level sketches of modern city life that echo the work of Nelson Algren and James T. Farrell.

Third City

The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism

By Larry Bennett
$22.50, University of Chicago Press,

With his recent book, Larry Bennett attempts to define the city's identity over the past two decades. The title refers to the author's assertion that contemporary Chicago is the "third city," following its first incarnation as an industrial center and its subsequent transformation into the rustbelt period of 1950-1990. The "third city" phase reflects a revitalized urban center, with new economy employment and shifting patterns of immigration.

The Thousand

The Thousand

By Kevin Guilfoile
$24.95, Knopf,

Set in Chicago and Las Vegas, this second novel by Cast of Shadows author Kevin Guilfoile is a Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy theory thriller. The story unfolds as its protagonist, the excellently named Canada Gold, investigates the murder of her father and the shadowy secret society known as The Thousand.



Ten Years of T-shirts from the World's Most Inspiring Online Design Community
By Jake Nickell
$22, Abrams Image,

The funky and innovative Lakeview t-shirt and design shop Threadless is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with the release of a 224-page book highlighting some of the company's many artists and designs. A special edition coffee table-ready hardcover with sketchbook is available for $75.

Greg Wahl is a Chicagoan, a freelancer, a grad student, and a seeker of all things awesome & interesting throughout the city and beyond.

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