Authors Share Their Winter Reads 

By Kristin Boza

Winter is here, and so are local authors with their cozy reading recommendations. Grab this list, head to Bookie’s, 10324 S. Western or the library, check for these authors’ books as well as their recommendations, then settle in with a pair of wool socks, a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate for a long winter’s read.
Michael Walsh
In a previous life, Michael Walsh was a Marine Scout Observer, working in dangerous places like Vietnam’s “Leatherneck Square.” In addition to an assortment of campaign ribbons and unit commendations, Walsh’s personal recognitions include the Bronze Star with V, the Navy Achievement Medal with V, and a Regimental Mast. Later in life, he embarked on the Zhimon project, culminating in his book, “Zhimon, A Solitary Adventure” detailing his personal story of a 3,500-mile solo canoe journey along Canada’s fur trade route.
“For ‘put your feet up in front of the fire’ reading, it’s hard to beat Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch series; I’m starting over with one of his first: ‘Black Echo.’ For top-shelf, non-fiction reading, and a timely reminder of how our presidents have historically conducted themselves, I recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin’s ‘A Team of Rivals’ and David McCullough’s ‘Truman.’”
L.D. Barnes
L.D. Barnes is author of the police procedural novel “The 107th Street Murder.” Her stories have been published the “BAC Street Journal” and Tallgrass Anthology, and as a performing artist, Barnes has read at The Frunchroom, Woman Made Gallery, Tangelo Reading Series, and local libraries. Her website is Barnesversation.com.
“I love anthologies because they give a variety of poetry and short stories that go well with snowy days. It’s like having a magazine full of wonderful reading. If you want a novel, I suggest a mystery to give your mind some exercise, or some historical fiction to give you an appreciation of your ancestors and their environs. For mystery, I recommend anything by Clare O’Donahue, Tracy Clark, Susanna Calkins, Lori Rader-Day or Raymond Benson, all talented Chicago writers who will keep you engaged until the last page. As for anthologies, pick a subject that you enjoy and ask the folks at Bookie’s to guide you in the right direction. I am reading ‘The Water Dancer’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘Borrowed Time’ by Tracy Clark, and anxiously awaiting the new Lori Rader-Day mystery. For a local mystery taking place in Beverly and Mt. Greenwood, I recommend my book ‘The 107th Street Murder.’”
Arnie Bernstein
As a non-fiction writer, Arnie Bernstein loves exploring the forgotten stories of American history. He is the author of “Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund,” and “Bath Massacre: America’s First School Bombing,” and three books on Chicago film and Civil War history. His books have been acclaimed by “Publisher’s Weekly,” “Kirkus Reviews” and “The New York Times,” and he was recently named one of the top 50 movers and shakers in the Chicago book world by New City’s annual “Lit 50.”
“I’m currently working my way through ‘Churchill: Walking with Destiny’ by Andrew Roberts. It’s an epic task that I’ve been working on since spring! I recommend ‘The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles’ by Gary Krist; ‘The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Moment Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America’ by Karen Abbott. My usual go-to books are “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, “The Executioner’s Song” and ‘Of a Fire on the Moon’ by Norman Mailer, ‘Native Son’ by Richard Wright and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. Those titles will hold anyone through the winter, particularly if winter proves to be as long as it threatens to be this season.”
Dennis Foley
A life-long Chicagoan, Dennis Foley is the author of “The Drunkard’s Son,” “The Blue Circus” and “The Streets and San Man’s Guide to Chicago Eats.” His screenplay, “Not a Stranger,” filmed on Chicago’s South Side in 2015, received a 3-star review from film critic Richard Roeper, and went on to win or be nominated for several awards, including “Top Screenplay” from the Golden Door Film Festival, and “Top Debut Film” from Route 66 Film Festival. The film is now available on Amazon Prime. Foley is currently adapting “The Blue Circus” into a screenplay and working on a novel set in Chicago in the early 1900s.
“I recommend ‘Reading in the Dark’ by Seamus Deane; Frank McCourt received the big bucks and acclaim for ‘Angela’s Ashes,’ but if you want a beautiful read that will take you to the Land of Green and outdo McCourt’s memoir in the process, Deane’s autobiographical novel does the trick. I also recommend ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens; there’s nothing like a short Dickens tale to put things in perspective around the holidays. I just finished reading ‘The March’ by E.L. Doctorow, who is a master of historical fiction and this is a beautifully written book with wonderful voices covering one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history, the Civil War. As for my own books, I recommend ‘The Drunkard’s Son.’ a coming-of-age memoir about growing up in 1960s Chicago.”
Lee Bey
Lee Bey is a photographer, writer, lecturer and consultant whose work deals in the documentation and interpretation of the built environment — and the often complex political, social and racial forces that shape spaces and places. He is the author of “Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side,” which showcases both his writing and photography. As a former Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic, Bey’s writing and reporting on architecture and urban design have been featured in numerous publications and mediums, including WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, “Chicago” magazine and “Architectural Record”.
“For cozy winter reading, I recommend ‘Julius Shulman: Modernism Rediscovered’ by Pierluigi Serraino. Shulman photographed Southern California architecture at midcentury, and the book is filled with his incredible photos of modernist structures sitting beneath that warm California sun — just the thing for a cold winter day in Chicago. I’m reading ‘Midwest Architecture Journeys’ edited by Zach Mortice. This is a book of essays and photographs about places in Chicago and across the Midwest an as far as New York State. It’s a well-written, smart book that takes you off the beaten path. I also like ‘Binga: The Rise and Fall of Chicago’s First Black Banker’ written by Beverly’s own Don Hayner, and looks at the spectacular life of millionaire Jesse Binga who found success – and prison – in the first half of the 20th century. Say you read the book now because I’m sure it’ll be a movie at some point!”