By Christian Thorsberg

The Chicago summer. She asks not for permission. She asks not for forgiveness. She arrives fashionably late, kicks up her feet, and dismissively yawns in triple digits on autumn’s expectant move-in day. She’ll go when she’s ready.

She curates nostalgia. She pairs bare feet with pavement and popsicles with lips. She paints tears on cheeks, courses radio waves through wavy air, rolls up sleeves and rolls down windows. She’s scared. She’s sacred. She’s bleeding. She’s beaming. She gives and she takes.

She’s different to everyone, for anyone. With some. Against others. Inhaling night and exhaling sun, sending sailboats across blue and bullets through air and wind through work. And family into town. And family out. And pleasure and pain and gain and loss throughout.

She reads while she breathes. She likes a good book.

Painted Cities by Alexai Galavez-Budziszewski

Painted Cities by Alexai Galavez-Budziszewski

Fittingly reflective of the Pilsen neighborhood, this collection of short stories interweaves a cacophony of fluorescent personalities, shadowed nostalgia, miraculous magic, and the magic of the mundane, into an orchestra of truth. Nothing before has been more Pilsen, more Chicago.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

1919 by Eve Ewing

1919 by Eve Ewing

With even the earliest memories of the 1919 “Red Summer” turning a century old, acclaimed poet Eve Ewing refuses to let the horrors and injustice of the Chicago Race Riots reside in the past. This incredible collection of poetry is duality defined ― peace and terror, fragility and strength, straightforward critique and lyrical reflection. Its beauty is astonishing, its importance is paramount.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek

The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek

These are the stories of the fallen. Of the rising. Of the introspective and the crazed. Of our neighbors. Of you and I and life itself. Placing the complexity of the individual under a microscope, Dybek’s stories encapsulate what it means to be human in Chicago, painting a Chicago as iconic and true as its skyline.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

How are you supposed to grow up? What does it mean to love? To be? To be loved? Identity is forefront as the initially separate stories of Will Grayson and will grayson gradually intertwine, giving rise to moments of powerful revelation, rebellion, and self-discovery.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hopedited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall

The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall

Words with movement, words with histories, words that are themselves music and truths and stories. Edited by poet legends Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall, this collection of ‘breakbeat’ style poems usher in and definitively carve out a vital, vibrant space in the genre of performative poetry.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology edited by Martha Bayne

Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology, edited by Martha Bayne

Within this collection of poems and prose lies a collection of voices and lives and pasts and presents. As told by those who run through Chicago’s veins and beat with its heart, the lens of the industrial Rust Belt pops this book’s blue collar, oozing working-class adoration and experience.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz

Never a City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz

What is Chicago, but its people. And what are people, but their stories? Alex Kotlowitz combines his journalistic background with earnest curiosity in the individual, procuring palpable personality and perspectives galore.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby

From the “bitches gotta eat” blogger Samantha Irby comes a brutally honest, brutally hilarious collection of essays and reflections. Embracing the hand she was dealt while simultaneously slapping life’s demons across the face, Irby refuses to be anything but herself ― and her best self, at that.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Never has a Chicago summer been so bone-chilling and cold. This nonfiction work accounting the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition details the summer’s architectural breakthroughs and cultural coalescence…and how H.H. Holmes spun these phenomena for his own dastardly intentions.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez

My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez

Raw emotion and perilous recollection infuse this autobiography with gripping potency and authenticity. The account of a young man’s harrowing indoctrination and endeavors as a Latin King in Chicago, the pages communicate not just a story, but an escape from a notorious and shocking world that to some, like Sanchez, is quotidian.

AMAZON | INDIEBOUND

2 thoughts on “Chicago Summer Books

  1. Bindy Bitterman says:

    Who is Christian Thorsberg??? He writes magnificently, or at least the example given here strikes me that way. I tried Googling and got an entirely (apparently) unrelated small local newspaper, and couldn’t see any point of connection.
    Bindy Bitterman

    • American Writers Museum says:

      Hi Bindy, Christian is one of our awesome summer interns. He really is a great writer and we’re lucky he was working with us this summer. Remember the name because he’s got a bright future ahead of him!

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