A compilation of obscure pop culture lists—14 cover songs that outdo the originals, ten film alcoholics who sober up to save the day—makes for an endlessly entertaining read in Inventory (Scribner, $18), by the writers and editors of the Chicago-based Onion A.V. Club.




In the midst of personal reinvention, an introspective woman discovers that she can communicate with animals in the Chicago writer Margaret Hawkins’s first novel, A Year of Cats and Dogs (Permanent Press, $28).



The Second City Unscripted

Prominent cast and crew members from Chicago’s comedy institution share their memories with the journalist Mike Thomas for the theatre’s 50th anniversary in The Second City Unscripted (Villard, $26).




The longtime ghost hunter and Weird Chicago tour leader Adam Selzer chronicles his bizarre adventures in Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps (Llewellyn, $15.95).


The Rockabillies

Pompadours, full skirts, and ‘50s style re-emerge in The Rockabillies (Center for American Places, $50), the Chicago photographer Jennifer Greenburg’s visual tour of this throwback subculture.





Destiny Calling: How the People Elected Barack Obama

The journalist and Roosevelt University professor Charles Madigan weaves the stories of American voters through Destiny Calling: How the People Elected Barack Obama (Ivan R. Dee, $25.95).



Gems and Gemstones

The striking natural crystals and polished stones of the Field Museum’s newly expanded collection are displayed and discussed in Gems and Gemstones (University of Chicago Press, $45), by Lance Grande and Allison Augustyn.