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).
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).
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.
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).
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.