62 books like World's Fair Notes

By Marian Shaw,

Here are 62 books that World's Fair Notes fans have personally recommended if you like World's Fair Notes. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ 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

Jason Kersten Author Of The Last Counterfeiter: The Story of Fake Money, Real Art, and Forging the Impossible $100 Bill

From my list on crime books that explode into larger worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a window-seat person. If I’m on a trip, I want to see much more than the device propelling me forward. In crime books, the vehicle is always the crime, but I want that felonious little engine to also propel me through realms where I become more explorer than passenger, where I’ve entered marvelous and unexpected worlds that become characters in themselves. It almost doesn’t matter what that world is, whether it’s 19th-century Chicago architecture, bitcoin cartels or octopus linguistics. As long as it’s well-researched and rendered with depth, precision, and passion, your ticket to a crime gets you at least two books, or even genres, for one!

Jason's book list on crime books that explode into larger worlds

Jason Kersten Why did Jason love this book?

Erik Larson is known for his masterful ability to combine meticulous research with rich prose to breathe life into history. This book, with intersecting narratives of a serial killer and a brilliant architect set at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, painted such a living picture for me that I still felt stuck to the canvas even when I wasn’t reading.

I learned about astonishing true events and characters I barely knew existed. The contrast between the great inventors on the grand stage of the fair and the killer haunting its shadow was superbly done.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

20 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 Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker's Guide to the Paris of America

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?

Originally published in 1892 as a guidebook for visitors to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, this book has been reprinted with an introduction and endnotes from modern historians, but the bulk of the content is exactly what visitors read more than 100 years ago. The book is full of descriptions about Chicago itself as well as the highlights of the Fair.

By Paul Durica, Bill Savage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chicago by Day and Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Showcasing the first Ferris wheel, dazzling and unprecedented electrification, and exhibits from around the world, the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was Chicago's chance to demonstrate that it had risen from the ashes of the Great Fire and was about to take its place as one of the world's great cities. Millions would flock to the fair, and many of them were looking for a good time before and after their visits to the Midway and the White City. But what was the bedazzled visitor to do in Chicago?

Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker's Guide to the…


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 Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Anna M. Lewis Author Of Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers

From my list on inspiring your inner artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning toy inventor and author/illustrator, with a lifelong love of art, learning, and creativity. I strive to inspire the future builders and creators of our world in my books, articles, and blog musings. Some of my favorite reads inspired my creative side.

Anna's book list on inspiring your inner artist

Anna M. Lewis Why did Anna love this book?

A few years ago, even though I had three books in my backpack to entertain me on a cross-country flight, I had to buy this book from the airport bookstore, which resulted in one of my favorite reading experiences.

I had never heard of Clara O’Driscoll, but the combination of her struggles as a young woman in the years during the suffragette movement plus her passion for creating art for Louis Comfort Tiffany at any cost was a blissful read.

I’m a huge fan of every Susan Vreeland novel, plus I’m a sucker for anything set in around 1900.

By Susan Vreeland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Clara and Mr. Tiffany as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows that he hopes will earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division, who conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which Tiffany will long be remembered. Never publicly acknowledged, Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman. She also…


Book cover of If You Want to Write

Cathy Pickens Author Of Create! Developing Your Creative Process

From my list on to feed your creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

Creativity is a practical, problem-solving, risk-taking endeavor, something we all do, whether we claim it or not. After working for many years with groups of graduate business students, artists, writers, business professionals, women in recovery, men in prison, with those just discovering their creative ability—and with myself and my own creative journey, I realize the question isn’t “Am I creative?” The question is “Am I using it?” or “Am I continuing to grow?” Nothing is more exciting than watching others as they realize just how creative they are.

Cathy's book list on to feed your creativity

Cathy Pickens Why did Cathy love this book?

Many of us are a bit afraid of stepping out and trying something new. That applies especially with creative work. “I’m just not that good,” we tell ourselves—or voices from our past tell us. Brenda Ueland was a long-time Chicago creative writing instructor, and her little book is strong encouragement (and a bit of a kick in the pants) about risk-taking and learning about our super-powers in the process.

By Brenda Ueland,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked If You Want to Write as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1938, this classic by Brenda Ueland is considered by many to be one of the best books ever written on how to be a writer. Part a lesson on writing and part a philosophy on life, Ueland believed that anyone could be a writer and everyone had something important to say. Heavily influenced by the ideas of William Blake, Ueland outlines 12 points to keep in mind while writing and encourages writers to find their true, authentic selves and write from there. Born in Minneapolis in 1891 to a progressive household, Ueland’s father was a lawyer and…


Book cover of Welcome to Hard Times

John D. Nesbitt Author Of Dark Prairie

From my list on thought-provoking classic westerns worth rereading.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a college instructor and a student of Western American Literature for many, many years I have read a great number of western novels for my classes and for my literary studies. In addition to my doctoral dissertation on the topic, I have written and published numerous articles and reviews on western writers, and I have given many public presentations as well. I have a long-standing interest in what makes good works good. As a fiction writer, I have published more than thirty traditional western novels with major publishers, and have won several national awards for my western novels and short stories. 

John's book list on thought-provoking classic westerns worth rereading

John D. Nesbitt Why did John love this book?

Welcome to Hard Times is a shorter novel. It is of the length of the classic western that was popular at the time that this novel came out (1960). This novel is sometimes described as an anti-western or an ironic western, as it takes a non-heroic view of people dealing with evil in a frontier town. It was made into a movie by the same title, but the movie is not well known. The novel is similar in tone to the movie McCabe and Mrs. Miller, which some people do not like because of its non-heroic or skeptical tone. Readers who like their westerns upbeat and unequivocal may not appreciate Doctorow’s novel, but readers who are willing to consider less-than-pristine views may find an interesting treatment here.

By E.L. Doctorow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Welcome to Hard Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is E. L. Doctorow’s debut novel, a searing allegory of frontier life that sets the stage for his subsequent classics.

Hard Times is the name of a town in the barren hills of the Dakota Territory. To this town there comes one day one of the reckless sociopaths who wander the West to kill and rape and pillage. By the time he is through and has ridden off, Hard Times is a smoking ruin. The de facto mayor, Blue, takes in two survivors of the carnage–a boy, Jimmy, and a prostitute, Molly, who has suffered unspeakably–and makes them his…


Book cover of Living Landmarks of Chicago

Sharon Michalove Author Of At First Sight

From my list on romance, mystery, and suspense in Chicago.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Chicago and grew up in the suburbs. After a career at the University of Illinois, 150 miles downstate, I moved back to my hometown to recapture the urban vibe that I love. A historian, I love the stories that architecture tells me and wandering the streets of the city never stales. Having romance in my life is important and writing about how relationships can develop in the city is part of that. Everywhere I go in Chicago, I think of how my characters might interact with each other and the setting. Romance can be found in grand restaurants and in odd corners and Chicago has it all.

Sharon's book list on romance, mystery, and suspense in Chicago

Sharon Michalove Why did Sharon love this book?

This isn’t romance, mystery, or suspense per se. Living Landmarks are historic places that you can still visit, and they tell us the story of Chicago. Although much was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871, some of the early architecture remains. And what was built after defines the “city of big shoulders.” As the author says, “Chicago is the physical manifestation of dreamers, malcontents, philanthropists, and grifters.” You can read about what is, maybe, the oldest house in Chicago, Clarke House, now a museum or any other of the forty-nine sites. Places I used like the Palmer House, The Rookery, the Art Institute, Union Station, and the Civic Opera House are all represented. The stories are short but compelling and the book is a valuable resource if you want to know more about the romance and mystery that define Chicago. 

By Theresa L. Goodrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living Landmarks of Chicago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the man shipped home in a rum barrel to the most dangerous woman in America, Chicago history comes to life in these tantalizing tales. "A wonderful bible of Chicago." WGN

Living Landmarks of Chicago goes beyond the what, when, and where to tell the how and why of fifty Chicago landmarks. More than a book about architecture, these are stories of the people who made Chicago and many of its most popular tourist attractions what they are today. Each chapter is a vignette that introduces the landmark and brings it to life, and the book is organized chronologically to…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Maggie Blake

Sharon Michalove Author Of At First Sight

From my list on romance, mystery, and suspense in Chicago.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Chicago and grew up in the suburbs. After a career at the University of Illinois, 150 miles downstate, I moved back to my hometown to recapture the urban vibe that I love. A historian, I love the stories that architecture tells me and wandering the streets of the city never stales. Having romance in my life is important and writing about how relationships can develop in the city is part of that. Everywhere I go in Chicago, I think of how my characters might interact with each other and the setting. Romance can be found in grand restaurants and in odd corners and Chicago has it all.

Sharon's book list on romance, mystery, and suspense in Chicago

Sharon Michalove Why did Sharon love this book?

Much like Walter Mitty, Maggie Blake has a rich fantasy life that breaks the tedium of being a housewife with twins. After seven years of marriage to the seemingly stolid Preston, Maggie misses the excitement of her career as an investigative reporter. When a terrorist plot threatens Chicago, Preston and his team move in to stop it. But he is also trying to protect his identity as the Motorcycle Maverick, a masked Zorro-like figure Maggie dreams about. 

Chicago and its environs, especially a suburb that is reminiscent of Lake Forest, add to the texture of the story. The idea of romantic suspense that involves a married couple is unusual and extremely well done. Marilyn is always an inspiration to me as a writer and this book is no exception.

By Marilyn Brant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Maggie Blake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SECRET LIFE OF MAGGIE BLAKE is a contemporary romantic suspense, light action & adventure tale by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant! This story is for fans of humorous husband/wife spy films such as "True Lies," readers who love slow-build romantic suspense, admirers of heroes in disguise like Zorro & The Scarlet Pimpernel, and anyone who's ever found themselves having "Walter Mitty"-like fantasies in the middle of the day...

In an affluent Chicago suburb, Maggie Santori Blake, a clever stay-at-home mom with vivid daydreams of a more exciting life, is caught up in a dangerous…


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