The most recommended books about amusement parks

Who picked these books? Meet our 49 experts.

49 authors created a book list connected to amusement parks, and here are their favorite amusement park books.
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Book cover of Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008

Dawn Raffel Author Of The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies

From my list on historic Coney Island.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of five books, the most recent of which is The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. The “doctor” ran infant incubator sideshows for forty years at Coney Island (among other places) where the public would pay to view tiny preemies. Bizarre as it seems, and despite Martin Couney’s many fabrications, he was the rightful father of American neonatology, not only getting rich but also saving thousands of children when the medical establishment couldn’t or wouldn’t do it: Some of his patients are still alive. During my years of research, I needed to immerse myself in the history and culture of America’s trippiest, naughtiest seaside playground, with its amusement parks, freak shows, sideshows, hijinks, and hanky panky. (Sigmund Freud reportedly said that Coney Island was the only thing of interest to him in America). Along with many trips to Coney Island as it is today, including the Coney Island Museum, these were the books that really helped me feel it. 

Dawn's book list on historic Coney Island

Dawn Raffel Why did Dawn love this book?

Created in conjunction with a 2015 exhibition, this volume is a visual feast -- a tribute to the way Coney Island inspired artists and endures as part of the public imagination. Paintings, drawings, posters, artifacts, and photographs spanning 1861-2008 fill its pages; artists include Diane Arbus, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Red Grooms, and many others. Accompanying essays explore the seaside resort’s cultural significance.

By Robin Jaffee Frank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A captivating look at Coney Island and its iconic place in the history of American art

Called "America's playground," Coney Island is a world-famous resort and national cultural symbol that has inspired music, literature, and films. This groundbreaking book is the first to look at the site's enduring status as inspiration for artists throughout the ages, from its inception as an elite seaside resort in the mid-19th century, to its evolution into an entertainment mecca for the masses, with the eventual closing of its iconic amusement park, Astroland, in 2008 after decades of urban decline. How artists chose to portray…


Book cover of Someone Builds the Dream

Colleen Paeff Author Of The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London's Poop Pollution Problem

From my list on the infrastructure of our cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never thought much about what makes our cities habitable until I started doing research for The Great Stink. But learning about sewers and wastewater treatment (They’re surprisingly interesting!) turned out to be the beginning of a fascination with other types of city infrastructure that I had previously ignored. Kids have a natural fascination for infrastructure of all kinds, but I was surprised when I couldn’t find any lists of picture books that group different types of city infrastructure together. So, I made one. I hope you and your little ones like these books as much as I did, and I hope you find many similar books to enjoy!

Colleen's book list on the infrastructure of our cities

Colleen Paeff Why did Colleen love this book?

What I love about this book is that instead of focusing on the engineers, architects, artists, and other high-profile designers who tend to get the credit for creating so much of what we see in our cities–it focuses on the laborers who take their plans and make them a reality. Someone Builds the Dream will get kids (and their parents) thinking more about the building process and the people who spend their days putting together the parts of the many buildings, bridges, fountains, and other structures that come together to create a city. Young children will love the rhyming text and older ones will find much to wonder about as they scan the vibrant illustrations.

By Lisa Wheeler, Loren Long (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someone Builds the Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

All across this great big world, jobs are getting done

by many hands in many lands. It takes much more than ONE.

Gorgeously written and illustrated, this is an eye-opening exploration of the many types of work that go into building our world - from the making of a bridge to a wind farm, an amusement park, and even the very picture book that you are reading. An architect may dream up the plans for a house, but someone has to actually work the saws and pound the nails. This book is a thank-you to the skilled women and men…


Book cover of Disney After Dark

Richard W. Kelly Author Of The Psi-Chotic Adventures of Drew Darby

From my list on fantasy more fun than just dragons and sorcery.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I write in many genres, fantasy was my first love in reading. I fell in love with the possibilities of a boundless world. And as the years went on, I realized that fantasy could be more than just dragons and sorcery. Fantasy was this big umbrella that housed all the impossible dreams. So, I gravitated toward the genre. I also have an affinity for fun things. I don’t like to be sad, so I prefer movies, music, games, and books that revolve around fun and humor.

Richard's book list on fantasy more fun than just dragons and sorcery

Richard W. Kelly Why did Richard love this book?

If there is something I love outside of writing it is Disney. I won’t try and convince anyone these are great works of literature, but they do an amazing job of making the Disney magic come to life.  

Ever since I went to Disney World for the first time I imagined what it would be like to work there. To see the park at night with no one in it. To be alone in all that magic. So, when I read Disney After Dark I felt like a little kid having his ideas put to paper.  

By Ridley Pearson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disney After Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Five young teens tapped as models for theme park “guides” (using a new hologram technology developed by the Disney Imagineers) find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls. Featuring a new cover design and additional content!


Book cover of The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Donna Norman-Carbone Author Of All That Is Sacred

From my list on soulful connections.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone who has experienced a lot of loss in my life, I’ve done a good amount of research and exploration into the soulful nature in all of us (the living and the dead) through reading nonfiction (Laura Lynn Jackson, Brian Weiss, Edgar Cayce, Jane Roberts, John Edward and Suzane Northrop among them) and fiction that deals with strong soulful connections. Through my own work as an author, I seek to provide the message love, in any form, transcends life and death. We only have to be open to the possibility to know it and experience it. Nothing is a coincidence and we are all connected. I hope these selections open you to the possibility.

Donna's book list on soulful connections

Donna Norman-Carbone Why did Donna love this book?

Mitch Albom creates a heavenly world for the main character, Eddie, who has just ascended from earth after saving someone at the carnival where he worked; thus, meeting his own tragic demise.

What strikes me most in this story are the seemingly irrelevant connections we make in life and how those connections could have a deep and lasting impact. Every single thing we do or say or the people we touch is purposeful here, and drives us, our souls, to seek grace in all that we do.

By Mitch Albom,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Five People You Meet in Heaven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A STUNNING 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF THE MASTER STORYTELLER'S INSPIRATIONAL CLASSIC

To his mind, Eddie has lived an uninspiring life. Now an old man, his job is to fix rides at a seaside amusement park.

On his eighty-third birthday, Eddie's time on earth comes to an end. When a cart falls from the fairground, he rushes to save a little girl's life and tragically dies in the attempt. When Eddie awakens, he learns that the afterlife is not a destination, but a place where your existence is explained to you by five people - some of whom you knew, others…


Book cover of The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife

Abie Longstaff Author Of The Trapdoor Mysteries: A Sticky Situation

From my list on middle grade books of magic and adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the oldest of six children – all girls! I used to make up imaginary worlds for my little sisters. We’d steal clothes from Mum and Dad for dressing up; we’d pull all the cushions off the sofa to make a show; we even used to put ribbons on the poor dog. Nowadays I write books with magic and fairy tales and adventure. I write for the child inside me; the child that loved an exciting, fantastical story. I have written over 50 books for children from picture book to middle grade, and I still love inventing imaginary worlds.

Abie's book list on middle grade books of magic and adventure

Abie Longstaff Why did Abie love this book?

Magic comes in many forms and the version in this book is fast, funny, and modern. Scarlett has trouble controlling her emotions – something children will really connect with – but whenever she tries to push her feelings down, they find a very clear way of bursting out. Maz Evans knows how her readers think and speak: the dialogue and setting feel so alive and authentic; and she knows what makes them laugh.

By Maz Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Exploding Life of Scarlett Fife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Scarlett Fife has BIG feelings. And she's about to get into BIG trouble. From the bestselling Maz Evans comes a heartfelt and hilarious new series, perfect for fans of Roald Dahl's Matilda.

'A laugh-out-loud story full of warmth, Big Feelings and explosive results.' Dominique Valente, author of Starfell

'So funny, you'll explode with laughter' Sam Copeland, author of Charlie Changes into a Chicken

Scarlett Fife has BIG FEELINGS. And when she has BIG FEELINGS, they explode out of her like an over-squeezed stress ball.

Scarlett's in big trouble after a BIG FEELINGS episode leads to a runaway hamster getting into…


Book cover of Dark Ride: A Thriller

Marjorie McCown Author Of Final Cut

From Marjorie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Mystery author Animal lover Designer

Marjorie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Marjorie McCown Why did Marjorie love this book?

Dark Ride made me laugh out loud. It also broke my heart.

Lou Berney is known for writing complex, memorable characters, but Hardy Reed, Hardly to his family and friends, doesn't appear - when we first meet him - to be a promising protagonist.

Hardly is an easy-going 21-year-old stoner who works a dead-end job at an amusement park and is perfectly content to drift through life without conflicts or challenges. But despite his limitations (he's under-educated and lacks anything approximating marketable skills). Hardly has a big heart, and as we find immense courage.

When he crosses paths with two young children he suspects are being abused - and whom, he learns, are falling through the cracks of the overburdened Child Protective Services, Hardly decides to rescue them, discovering unexpected reserves of tenacity and resourcefulness within himself.

His mission becomes his reason for being, and I was on board for…

By Lou Berney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Lou Berney, the acclaimed, multi award-winning author of November Road and The Long and Faraway Gone, comes a Dark Ride

Sometimes the person you least expect is just the hero you need

Twenty-one-year-old Hardy "Hardly" Reed-good-natured, easygoing, usually stoned-is drifting through life. A minimum-wage scare actor at an amusement park, he avoids unnecessary effort and unrealistic ambitions.

Then one day he notices two children, around six or seven, sitting all alone on a bench. Hardly checks if they're okay and sees injuries on both children. Someone is hurting these kids.

He reports the incident to Child Protective Service.

That…


Book cover of Jurassic Park

S.R. Masters Author Of How to Kill with Kindness

From my list on books in which all that glitters is not gold.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been drawn to stories in which all that glitters isn't gold, and all three of my novels contain this theme. They are, at the bottom, tales of hubris, which is why I like them. A character strives to obtain some glittery thing, confident it will be better than what they have. Yet, ultimately, their confidence is misplaced, and their ambition brings about their downfall. Perhaps because I'm someone who's naturally quite risk-averse but also believes little good comes in life without taking chances, stories like this attract me. They allow me to safely hunt for the Aristotelian mean between being overly sensible and irrationally ambitious.  

S.R.'s book list on books in which all that glitters is not gold

S.R. Masters Why did S.R. love this book?

I couldn't resist putting this in here. The book is as much of a treat as a movie and has its own darker vibe. It's the first “grown-up” book I ever read, and it's rewarded re-reads over the years. Like with Ira Levin, it's amazing to see a high-concept pulled off so well, and even now, you have to applaud what Crichton did with it.

It built in me a healthy respect for science and a skepticism of big business, and even now it makes me feel that wonder I had when I first read it. 

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Jurassic Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Crichton's most compulsive novel' Sunday Telegraph
'Crichton's dinosaurs are genuinely frightening' Chicago Sun-Times
'Breathtaking adventure. . . a book that is as hard to put down as it is to forget' Time Out

-------------------------------

The international bestseller that inspired the Jurassic Park film franchise.

On a remote jungle island, genetic engineers have created a dinosaur game park.

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now one of mankind's most thrilling fantasies has come true and the first dinosaurs that the Earth has seen in the time of man emerge.

But, as always, there is a…


Book cover of I Will Find You

Simon Edge Author Of In the Beginning

From Simon's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Satirist Commentator on gay history Publisher Reader

Simon's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Simon Edge Why did Simon love this book?

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, mainly crime, and this was the year I discovered Harlan Coben. I only knew him previously as the source material for high-quality Netflix thrillers, so I knew he’d be good at plot.

Still, I wasn’t prepared for the quality of his prose and the amazing heart with which he creates an endless series of compelling characters. I’ve loved every one I’ve listened to this year, but his latest, I Will Find You, about a father wrongly jailed for the murder of his child, is utterly spell-binding.

The chill prison realism and haunting desolation on the part of the central character gradually turn to hope and determination, with a thrilling and totally believable dénouement. Superb.

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Will Find You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the # 1 author and creator of the hit Netflix drama Stay Close, a page-turning thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page. The new Harlan Coben blockbuster has arrived.
______________

David and Cheryl Burroughs are living the dream - married, a beautiful house in the suburbs, a three year old son named Matthew - when tragedy strikes one night in the worst possible way.

David awakes to find himself covered in blood, but not his own - his son's. And while he knows he did not murder his son, the overwhelming evidence against him puts…


Book cover of Bared to You

Christina Casino Author Of Unforeseen

From my list on throwing you directly into the character's shoes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoy writing fiction. I’ve never been drawn to one genre in particular so because of this my novels seem to fluctuate depending on the mood I am in when writing. I like the flexibility that self-publishing allows—being able to write in whatever genre I want. To not be bound to one. So far, I have written romantic suspense, crime thriller, and fantasy—with the hopes of one day soon writing a good horror story! I always dreamed of writing about the things that I would never see or never do and the things that are just not possible, I think that’s what keeps it exciting for me.

Christina's book list on throwing you directly into the character's shoes

Christina Casino Why did Christina love this book?

So, I stumbled upon this book at the same time I was looking at the worldwide phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey. This novel is for those who enjoy the erotica genre but without the bondage and flogging. It is an incredibly passionate story of falling in love with the enemy before falling into his bed. Bared to You will keep you up all night long just to keep turning the pages—incredibly emotional, fire-filled love scenes—the chemistry between the two is unbelievable! It’s a must-read!

By Sylvia Day,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bared to You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bared to You will take you to the very limits of obsession - and introduce you to a hero you'll never forget . . .

One of the bestselling love stories of the century from the No. 1 bestselling Crossfire series
_______

Our journey began in fire . . .

Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness - beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white hot.

I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life.

I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me.

I was…


Book cover of Wolf Land

Yawatta Hosby Author Of Urban Legends

From my list on being terrorized by things that go bump in the night.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hola, I’m Yawatta Hosby, and I have an open mind about monsters, ghosts, and urban legends. I believe they’re real, especially the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Earth is too big to only have humans. I have a passion for the topic being terrorized by things that go bump in the night. My book, Urban Legends, plays into that theme. October, the spooky season, is my favorite. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Every year, I watch a horror movie every day for 31 days straight. I also love reading horror books and researching urban legends. I’d like to think I’m an expert in horror, but it could all be in my head haha.

Yawatta's book list on being terrorized by things that go bump in the night

Yawatta Hosby Why did Yawatta love this book?

I loved how I got fooled into thinking someone was the main character, but he got an untimely end at the beginning of the book. It was refreshing to see the author not afraid to have a surprising twist. This werewolf story held my interest from chapter one to the end. The author never sugarcoated the werewolf’s victims, describing every tear from limb to limb. He wasn’t afraid to make the story as scary as possible. No room for interpretation–the original werewolves were clever hunters and definitely villains. The bonfire scene was very creepy, in a good way.

By Jonathan Janz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"...this is what werewolf horror is supposed to feel like: gruesome, bloody, dark, angry, messy, and downright terrifying." - Howling Libraries
Aside from a quaint amusement park, the small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They're about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.
The werewolf.
The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy resort town is about to face an even greater terror.…