63 books like Chicago by Day and Night

By Paul Durica, Bill Savage,

Here are 63 books that Chicago by Day and Night fans have personally recommended if you like Chicago by Day and Night. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Susan E. Lindsey Author Of Liberty Brought Us Here: The True Story of American Slaves Who Migrated to Liberia

From my list on explore history you didn’t know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical nonfiction, I’m an avid reader, and I’ve long been fascinated by the past. But I’m far less interested in the stories of powerful people, political intrigues, and significant battles. I would rather read (and write) hidden history: the stories that have not yet been discovered or fully explored and stories that are left out of history books—accidentally or deliberately. I find these far more compelling. They often provide a deeper look at how history affects those who lack power, influence, and money but who nevertheless do remarkable and often heroic things. I live in Portugal and have started working on a new historical nonfiction book.   

Susan's book list on explore history you didn’t know

Susan E. Lindsey Why did Susan love this book?

I couldn’t put down this book that traces dual stories of the architect who designed the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and a serial killer who chose his victims from among those who flocked to the city.

One of my great-aunts served as a nurse at the World’s Fair infirmary, and I remember hearing about the fair and her experiences there—how wondrous and magical it had all seemed to a young woman from a small town.

I couldn’t help but think of her when I read about the very dark side of the fair, too. Erik Larson is one of my favorite authors, and this is my favorite of his books.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Devil in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chicago World Fair was the greatest fair in American history. This is the story of the men and women whose lives it irrevocably changed and of two men in particular- an architect and a serial killer. The architect is Daniel Burnham, a man of great integrity and depth. It was his vision of the fair that attracted the best minds and talents of the day. The killer is Henry H. Holmes. Intelligent as well as handsome and charming, Holmes opened a boarding house which he advertised as 'The World's Fair Hotel' Here in the neighbourhood where he was once…


Book cover of World's Fair Notes: A Woman Journalist Views Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition

Jocelyn Green Author Of Shadows of the White City

From my list on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and the Historical Novel Society.

Jocelyn's book list on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

Jocelyn Green Why did Jocelyn love this book?

This collection of columns was written by a female reporter for a newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota. It’s fascinating to read what struck her as the most noteworthy as she described the World’s Fair for people who may never see it for themselves. Includes photographs.

By Marian Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked World's Fair Notes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Presents a series of contemporary articles describing the 1893 Chicago world's fair for the Fargo, N.D., Sunday Argus, and discusses the author's career and the role of women journalists


Book cover of Chicago's Grand Midway: A Walk around the World at the Columbian Exposition

Jocelyn Green Author Of Shadows of the White City

From my list on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and the Historical Novel Society.

Jocelyn's book list on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

Jocelyn Green Why did Jocelyn love this book?

Since the Midway was not on the official fairgrounds, it isn’t always discussed in detail in books about the Columbian Exposition/World’s Fair. This book focuses solely on the Midway and includes the background on all the attractions from Mr. Ferris’s Wheel to Cairo Street to Old Vienna, along with photographs and a map.

By Norman Bolotin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chicago's Grand Midway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Created as a centerpiece for the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Midway Plaisance was for one summer the world's most wondrous thoroughfare. A journey along its length immersed millions of spellbound visitors in a spectacle that merged exoticism with enlightenment and artistic crafts with dizzying technical achievement. Norman Bolotin, with Christine Laing, draws on his vast knowledge of the 1893 exposition to escort readers down the Midway. Step by step he takes you past forbidding Dahomeyans and dozens of belly dancers until, at last, you reach the colossal Ferris Wheel with cabins the size of street cars. The tour reveals…


Book cover of Spectacle in the White City: The Chicago 1893 World's Fair

Jocelyn Green Author Of Shadows of the White City

From my list on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and the Historical Novel Society.

Jocelyn's book list on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

Jocelyn Green Why did Jocelyn love this book?

This gorgeous coffee table book jam-packed with full-size photographs from every angle of the Fair. There is enough text to explain what the reader is looking at, but the glory of this volume is the photography. The map at the front is one of the best I’ve found, as well.

By Stanley Appelbaum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spectacle in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over 27 million people visited the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. Countless more experienced the fair through the wondrous images of C. D. Arnold, the era's foremost architectural photographer. Through his luminous pictures, Arnold became the event's leading historian, publicist, and visual philosopher. This gallery of Arnold's photographs, painstakingly retouched to achieve a new radiance, presents a magnificent tribute to the "White City" of shining Beaux-Arts buildings.
In addition to its visual tour of the Exposition's extensive buildings and grounds, this lavish book also celebrates a city that treasures its architecture. The classical Greek and Roman design expressed…


Book cover of Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story

Melanie Rehak Author Of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

From my list on beloved children’s books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent my childhood reading for pleasure, for escapism, for humor, for reassurance, for different views of the world, and even out of sheer boredom sometimes when there was nothing else to do. I have no doubt it’s what made me into a writer. In retrospect, it makes total sense that my first book was about the history and power of a children’s series. When I found myself immersed in not just my old Nancy Drews but the fascinating stories of the people and times that produced her, it was like being back in my childhood bedroom again, only this time with the experience to understand how what I read fit into the larger story of America, feminism, and literature. I hope the books I’ve recommended will inspire you to revisit your old favorites with a new eye.

Melanie's book list on beloved children’s books

Melanie Rehak Why did Melanie love this book?

Though I love The Wizard of Oz, I’ve always thought the best book in the series is Ozma of Oz (close second: TikTok of Oz). Still, this book shows where the book most people think of as Baum’s masterpiece came from and how his imagination was fueled by the trends, triumphs, and politics of 19th century America. His personal life was far from the fantasy depicted in Oz, which is perhaps why so many of his characters find themselves in great peril.

By Evan I. Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Oz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking new look at an American icon, THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Finding Oz tells the remarkable tale behind one of the world's most enduring and best loved stories. Offering profound new insights into the true origins and meaning of L. Frank Baum's 1900 masterwork, it delves into the personal turmoil and spiritual transformation that fueled Baum's fantastical parable of the American Dream. Prior to becoming an impresario of children's adventure tales--the J. K. Rowling of his age--Baum failed at a series of careers and nearly lost his soul before setting out on a journey of discovery that would lead…


Book cover of Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago

Benjamin Markovits Author Of Imposture

From my list on historical fiction about famous writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was fourteen years old, my family moved from Texas to London for a year, and I started going to a little second-hand book shop around the corner. It was run by a long-haired Canadian, who always smoked a pipe. There were only three or four aisles, plus a cluttered backroom. You could pick up a 19th-century edition of the complete works of Shelley, with uncut pages, for two pounds. One volume led to another, in the same way that one friendship can lead to another, or introduce you to a new circle of people. Twenty-odd years later, I decided to write a novel about some of these writers.  

Benjamin's book list on historical fiction about famous writers

Benjamin Markovits Why did Benjamin love this book?

Simone de Beauvoir met Nelson Algren in Chicago in 1947.

A couple of years later, his novel The Man with the Golden Arm won the National Book Award, and a few years after that De Beauvoir won the prestigious Prix Goncourt for her novel The Mandarins, which featured a character based on Algren. They became famous literary lovers, involved in a complicated triangle with De Beauvoir’s long-time partner Sartre.

But Cowie’s novel brings to life the ordinary intimacies and misunderstandings of their love affair – the title comes from de Beauvoir’s confusion about the time difference between Paris and Chicago. Caught up in the details of day-to-day life, people, even brilliant writers, don’t always have the time or vision to make real decisions about how they want to live, or who they want to love. It’s a brilliant book. 

By Douglas Cowie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sharp and intimate, Douglas Cowie’s reimagining of the turbulent love affair between Simone de Beauvoir and Nelson Algren asks what it means to love and be loved by the right person at the wrong time. Chicago, 1947: on a freezing February night, France’s feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir calls up radical resident novelist Nelson Algren, asking him to show her around. After a whirlwind tour of dive bars, cabarets and the police lockup, the pair return to his apartment on Wabansia Avenue. Here, a passion is sparked that will last for the next two decades. Their relationship intensifies during intoxicating…


Book cover of Venice Observed

Meredith Small Author Of Inventing the World: Venice and the Transformation of Western Civilization

From my list on Venice (non-guidebooks).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anthropologist who became attached to Venice after spending time in Italian language school there and returning over and over, often staying for months. What tourists see is the superficial beauty of the city. But Venice is a place of incredible depth and complexity, both historically and today. During my many visits, I began to hear (on the street) and read (in museums) of the many inventions that happened in Venice. I soon started making a list and, with additional reading, this list grew to 220 inventions—such as quarantine and the paperback book—and realized how much we owe to Venice for how we navigate the world today.

Meredith's book list on Venice (non-guidebooks)

Meredith Small Why did Meredith love this book?

Here you get McCarthy’s whit and her fine descriptions about living in Venice. Although her stay happened long ago, her stories about interacting with her landlord and other Venetians, and all the adjustments one must make when living in a water-bound city, ring true today as well.

By Mary McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Venice Observed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A penetrating work of reportage on Venice. “Searching observations and astonishing comprehension of the Venetian taste and character” (New York Herald Tribune).


Book cover of Really the Blues

Jeff Stookey Author Of Chicago Blues

From my list on 1920s Chicago jazz musicians.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father, a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan, had a bunch of her records, and took us to hear her live once. So I knew mid-century jazz, but I had yet to discover its early origins. From the first, I knew my trilogy was set in the 1920s and one of the main characters had to be a jazz musician. I began collecting dozens of recordings by early jazz and blues artists, reading books about them, and I developed an enthusiasm for these early musicians. I found that the original “jazz maniacs” had the same passion for their music that I felt about rock and roll in the early 1960s.

Jeff's book list on 1920s Chicago jazz musicians

Jeff Stookey Why did Jeff love this book?

This jive-tongued jazz cat really knows how to use language! His use of slang is evidenced by the ten-page glossary at the end of the book. Raw and gritty, Mezzrow’s memoir describes how he learned to play jazz and blues in a juvenile reformatory, where he developed his love for the Black “race” and its culture. He often riffs on race. In 1920s Chicago he rubbed elbows with Black and White jazz luminaries, plus gangsters, prostitutes, and drug dealers. During a side trip to Paris, France, he spread the gospel of jazz to Europe. In the 30s he lived in New York City’s Harlem, inhabiting a milieu similar to that in Chicago, peddling marijuana to jazz greats and others. His extraordinary writing inspired Jack Kerouac and the Beat writers.

By Mezz Mezzrow, Bernard Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Really the Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Really the Blues (90) by Mezzrow, Mezz - Wolfe, Bernard [Paperback (2001)]


Book cover of 1919

Stoney Compton Author Of Treadwell: A Novel of Alaska Territory

From my list on accurate immersion in a past time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child I read and experienced history books as adventures. Adventure drew me to Alaska after a hitch in the Navy. I wanted to write an accurate historical novel about Juneau and the Treadwell Mine and began my research. I knew the Alaska Historical Library was the perfect place to begin. When I discovered the extensive photo collections, I flashed back to my admiration of the historical novels that impressed me. I borrowed technique and structure from all and incorporated imagery in my manuscript. My main goal was to successfully immerse the reader in a good novel about 1915 in Alaska Territory.

Stoney's book list on accurate immersion in a past time and place

Stoney Compton Why did Stoney love this book?

I first read 1919 by Dos Passos when I was a teenager in the Navy. Having a yen for history since the age of eight, I was transported to an era where hopes and dreams have shattered or vanished. The author created the gritty and tawdry ambiance of characters as far out of their depth as was the reader.

We meet many limned characters with engaging flaws and hopes. The point-of-view shifts constantly and the narrative is spaced with advertising jingles from period radio programs and magazines to promote visualization.

The USA trilogy never left me. After pursuing art and making my living as a commercial artist for 15 years I turned to writing. I realized I wanted to create an immersive portrait of Juneau using similar tactics. I believe I succeeded.

By John Dos Passos,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 1919 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A Depression-era novel about American tumult has—perhaps unsurprisingly—aged quite well.”—The New Yorker

In 1919, the second volume of his U.S.A. trilogy, John Dos Passos continues his “vigorous and sweeping panorama of twentieth-century America” (Forum).

Employing a host of experimental devices that would inspire a whole new generation of writers to follow, Dos Passos captures the many textures, flavors, and background noises of the era with a cinematic touch and unparalleled nerve.1919 opens to find America and the world at war, and Dos Passos’s characters, many of whom we met in the first volume, are thrown into the snarl. We follow…


Book cover of Like A Complete Unknown

Rita Dragonette Author Of The Fourteenth of September

From my list on the Vietnam War era by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the role of women in war: men may be on the front lines, but women deal with its impact and often struggle to have equal standing. I was inspired by stories told by my mother who was a nurse in World War II and participated in surgery under gunfire and helped liberate a POW camp in Germany. Yet, no one wanted to hear from her because she was “just a nurse.” Fast forward to Vietnam where women were still being marginalized. I wrote The Fourteenth of September to even the playing field by telling a story that was largely based upon my own experience in college during l969-1970.

Rita's book list on the Vietnam War era by women writers

Rita Dragonette Why did Rita love this book?

The book that proves your mother was right about what would happen “if:”

A story of a teenage runaway in l970 who gets herself into “trouble,” that offers a visceral kaleidoscope of the adventures of the era—the good and the bad—and makes you feel like you personally went through it all. It echoes through today with its theme of choice that is taken away from young men fleeing the draft, and from young women without governance over their own bodies.

By Anara Guard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Like A Complete Unknown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Honorable Mention -- Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year 2022 for indie fiction.
 

A luminous novel about freedom, persistence, and the power of compassion.
 
In 1970, a girl's life is not her own. Katya Warshawsky runs away from home rather than settle for the narrow life her parents demand of her. She revels in Chicago's counterculture, plunging into anti-war protests, communal living, and new liberties. But even in this free-wheeling world, she confronts bewildering obstacles. Still, she won't relinquish her dream of becoming an artist or her belief in a better world, and turns to Robert Lewis, hoping the…


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