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City Cast’s fav Chi books this year

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

City Cast bookworms,

Hopefully you have time off this holiday season to rest — and catch up on some of the best Chicago books this year. 

Don’t know what to read? Good thing we do 🤓

“Refugee High: Coming of Age in America”

Hundreds of refugee students attend Sullivan High School in Rogers Park, aka “Refugee High,” where more than 40 languages are spoken. 

🎧 Listen to author Elly Fishman explain what it sounds and looks like when you enter Sullivan. 

📚 Get the book.

(Image by The New Press)

“Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear”

Church members quietly cared for people with HIV and AIDS, even as the institutional church denounced these individuals.

🎧 Listen to author Michael J. O’Loughlin share his discovery about his own North Side church.

📚 Get the book.

(Image by Broadleaf Books)

“Three Girls From Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood”

Journalist Dawn Turner chronicles the different paths life took her, her sister, and their best friend after growing up inseparable in the historic South Side neighborhood in the 1970s.

📚 Read one of this year’s best books. (And remember who told you about it!)

(Image by Simon & Schuster)

“Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago”

From “Soul Train” to Chance the Rapper, journalist Ayana Contreras outlines the generational histories and cultural value of Black Chicago’s many creative artifacts. 

🎙️ Pssst, we’re talking to Contreras in January. 

📚 Hurry up and read the book before then!

(Image by University of Illinois Press)


Set in a fictional town outside Chicago during Christmas time in the ‘70s, each member of the Hildebrandt family has their own secret. 

➕This is the first book in author and Illinois native Jonathan Franzen’s projected trilogy. 

📚 Cozy up to this book — the setting is right.

(Image by Macmillan)

“The Korean Vegan Cookbook”

Eat with your eyes and stomach when you get this cookbook. I’m talking plant-based Jjajangmyun, Gamja Guk, and even a chocolate sweet potato cake 🤤

🎧 Listen to Joanne Molinaro share why she connects personal stories to food. 

📚 Get a signed copy of the book!

(Image by Penguin Random House)

“The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide”

Steve Dolinsky, aka formerly the Hungry Hound, published a new guide to help you find the right type of ‘za for every type of pizza lover in your life. 

📚 Warning: Getting this book might make you hungry. Do it anyway.

(Image by Northwestern Press)


Chicago is a “city of neighborhoods.” And a neighborhood’s name can tell you a lot about the area — from the racial makeup to the economy to the density.

🎧 Listen to the City Cast team take you through each of our neighborhoods — Uptown, Lakeview, Ukrainian Village, and Hyde Park — with some recommendations on where to eat, shop, and give.


City Cast’s Carrie Shepherd shared some of her fav holiday decorations in her neighborhood earlier this week, and asked for you all to send some too.

Reader Karen didn’t disappoint: Look at these holiday lights in Flossmoor!

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