10 books like World's Fair Notes

By Marian Shaw,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like World's Fair Notes. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Devil in the White City

By Erik Larson,

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

Larson takes us through two storylines. The first was of the 1893 World's Fair, explaining the politics, planning, personalities, and dynamics that made it so. The second story that parallels happened only blocks away is the story of one of the most notorious serial murderers, H.H. Holmes. This book teaches us about the time's atmosphere, mores, and norms. The wonder of the new technological era increased immigration and a mixture of all types of people in this new city. On the one hand, inspired things occurred, and concurrently, some of the most disturbing planning for homicides could only have happened at that place and time.

The Devil in the White City

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

13 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…

Chicago by Day and Night

By Paul Durica, Bill Savage,

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

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.

Chicago by Day and Night

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…

Chicago's Grand Midway

By Norman Bolotin,

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

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.

Chicago's Grand Midway

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…

Spectacle in the White City

By Stanley Appelbaum,

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

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.

Spectacle in the White City

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…

Finding Oz

By Evan I. Schwartz,

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

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.

Finding Oz

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…


Welcome to Hard Times

By E.L. Doctorow,

Book cover of Welcome to Hard Times

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.

Welcome to Hard Times

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…

The Apocalypse Gene

By Suki Michelle, Carlyle Clark,

Book cover of The Apocalypse Gene

I’ll be honest with you, this one is a brain-bender, and I love that about it. I may not have been able to wrap my brain around all of the unique twists and turns in this story, but the characters are so well-developed, the description is so vivid, and the action scenes are so well-crafted, it really didn’t matter. Set in the middle of a dystopian cancer plague, the eerie biblical and sci-fi elements make this one a real page-turner.

The Apocalypse Gene

By Suki Michelle, Carlyle Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Apocalypse Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Global pandemic is raging. Olivya Wright-Ono's once loving home has been converted to a hospice for the dying.  Her ability to see auras forces her to witness, with agonizing detail, the vibrant colors of life consumed by malignancy.  The beautiful and troubled, Mikah, is an elite Empath in the ancient Kindred clan, led by the brooding, ever-morphing, monster named Prime. Mikah has learned a terrible truth . . . the plague is linked to Kindred origins.  When Olivya sees evidence of disease creeping into her mother's aura, she has no one to turn to but Mikah. Can he unearth the…

If You Want to Write

By Brenda Ueland,

Book cover of If You Want to Write

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.

If You Want to Write

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…


Complicated Hearts (Complicated Hearts Duet Book 1)

By Ashley Jade,

Book cover of Complicated Hearts (Complicated Hearts Duet Book 1)

So, Ashley’s book isn’t exactly dark romance, but it is one of those duos that has an incredibly racy bite! When you consider the variables for a young adult m/f/m relationship that is riddled with angst and possibility, it’s easy to see why this book has all the scandal and heat you need to keep you bitten and trapped within the pages!

Complicated Hearts (Complicated Hearts Duet Book 1)

By Ashley Jade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Complicated Hearts (Complicated Hearts Duet Book 1) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Breslin—I was in love with Asher Holden the moment I saw him...and I knew nothing would ever be the same. Then he hurt me. He wrecked me. He ruined me. I spent three years putting myself together—fixing what he broke. I never thought I'd see him again after that day. I was counting on it. Little did I know—life had other plans...and things were going to become a lot more complicated. Asher—I finally know who I am. I own it, I embrace it...I'm no longer afraid. I live my life with no regrets now, because I've learned my lesson—the hard…

The Bollywood Bride

By Sonali Dev,

Book cover of The Bollywood Bride

Dev’s book is an escape into the exuberance of migrant families from India. Ria is a reclusive Bollywood actress, who betrays Vikram, her childhood sweetheart, to protect him from the same fate as her father. Ten years later, Ria returns to Chicago for her cousin Nik’s wedding, knowing she will meet Vik again. For Ria, the loving embrace of her family and found family provides the safety and love she needs to reassess her life in Bollywood. For Vik meeting Ria again brings back all the pain he thought he had recovered from after her betrayal. In the two weeks, Ria and Vik rekindle the love they have both denied. A beautifully written story of migrants who embrace their life in America but still hold on to their Indian heritage.

The Bollywood Bride

By Sonali Dev,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bollywood Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A fresh new voice." --Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times bestselling author

Ria Parkar is Bollywood's favorite Ice Princess--beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof--until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin's wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar.

Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria's exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love--until Ria made…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Chicago, North Dakota, and Illinois?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Chicago, North Dakota, and Illinois.

Chicago Explore 240 books about Chicago
North Dakota Explore 12 books about North Dakota
Illinois Explore 67 books about Illinois