Scribner; $37.50
Rick Perlstein couldn’t have written this weighty (896 pages!) account of the Nixon-era United States if he didn’t live in Hyde Park. “I live in a very special neighborhood,” he says. “This book is fueled by the coffee talk of its citizens.” Perlstein digs deep into the political polarization of the times, attempting to give equal weight to both sides. “There was this whole subterranean civil war in the 1960s that hasn’t been excavated; that’s what I did,” he says.


Such a Pretty Fat

New American Library; $14
Jen Lancaster, that snarky, self-proclaimed “bitch” of the Chicago literary scene, is back—and just as bitter—in this new dieting memoir. Determined to write a weight loss story that doesn’t end in self-loathing, Lancaster chronicles her struggle with the scale using her trademark abrasive style. She dropped four dress sizes while writing this book, thanks to a sense of humor and 40 sessions with a personal trainer named Barbie.


100 Essential Modern Poems by Women

Ivan R. Dee; $24.95
Joseph Parisi and Kathleen Welton edited this entry-level tome with curious readers in mind, not poetry snobs, and it shows. Forty-eight poets (whose words are accompanied by concise biographies) speak to every season of life. From Gwendolyn Brooks’s rhythmic reflections on Chicago’s South Side to Linda Pastan’s direct musings on a high-school reunion, you’re bound to find a bit of yourself between the lines—we did.


Photography: Black Box Studios, Inc.