As the sun begins to grace us with its presence on a regular basis, you might be asking “What should I read this summer?” A fine question and I’ve got you covered, whether you’re out at the Jackson Park Yacht Club, a bench in Winnemac Park, or maybe out on at a rooftop bar with a fine beverage.
Chicago By Day and Night by Paul Durica and Bill Savage
What would a visitor to Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 see and do? After all, there was no Yelp or TripAdvisor (I know, the horror). They might have picked up “Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker’s Guide to the Paris of America” for suggestions on such matters. Recently, Chicago historians Bill Savage and Paul Durica created an annotated version of this remarkable tome, complete with thoughtful commentary. It’s a great way to step back into the late 19th century and it’s a rather engaging read. You can also see the two of them talk about the book right here, courtesy of WTTW.
Smokestacks and Skyscrapers edited by David Starkey and Richard Guzman
How might you get started exploring the vast contours of writing about Chicago? You’d do well to pick up this excellent anthology of writings selected by David Starkey and Richard Guzman. In these pages, you’ll find Roger Ebert musing on film, H.L Mencken’s famous essay on Chicago’s role as the literary capital of the United States, and impressions of the area from noted wanderer and explorer, Father Jacques Marquette.
Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks
To know Gwendolyn Brooks’ poems is to know Chicago. To read them aloud is something remarkable and to read them with a group of friends is even better. This collection of her poems gives tremendous insight into the human condition, with a particular keen eye on what it meant to be an African American in the city during the 20th century.
Hollywood on Lake Michigan by Michael Corcoran and Arnie Bernstein
This book is a great way to learn about movies filmed in Chicago via the keen eye of local historian and film buff Arnie Bernstein and his co-author Michael Corcoran. Neighborhood by neighborhood, he reveals intriguing stories and locations behind well-known movies such as "The Blues Brothers," "Backdraft," "The Fugitive," and many more. He also does a great job of telling tales about lesser-known movies, such as "Mickey One" and "Stony Island." As a bonus, you can watch and listen to Arnie and Michael talk about the book in this interview with WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight.”