The holiday season is upon us once more which means it's time to snatch up gifts for loved ones. One positive of living in this great city of ours is the number of quality books about the city (and, yes, its massive foibles) that get published every year. Whether for a gift or for yourself, there's no shortage of great Chicago books on shelves (or e-books) to read on long (delayed) transit rides, in coffee shops, or to unwind.
Here are 10 of our favorites from 2012 (and a few stragglers from 2011) but be sure to list your favorites we miss in the comments below. And if that's not enough for you, you can always order the Hot Doug's book, out next spring.
• Only in Chicago by Natasha Korecki
Korecki, who currently covers politics for us here at the Sun-Times, has the first and best definitive look at the Rod Blagojevich scandal, ensuing court case, and the way it ensnared several other political heavyweights.
• You Were Never In Chicago by Neil Steinberg
Yes, another book by another great Sun-Times writer. Yes, we're a bit biased. But it's another outstanding effort by Steinberg, a memoir of sorts that takes readers through the city's history as well as his own.
• We Appreciate Your Enthusiasm: An Oral History of Q101 by James VanOsdol
From 1992 until 2011, Q 101 was a dominant force in Chicago radio and in the breaking of alternative rock across the nation in general. VanOsdol, a significant figure himself during those years, collects commentary and memories from a host of those involved to put together a definitive oral history of one of Chicago's legendary radio stations.
• The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of an American Gang by Natalie Moore and Lance Williams
Chicago's gang problem was at the forefront of news in 2012 as increasing gang violence played a large role in an increased murder rate. But the city's gang problem goes back decades so Moore (of WBEZ) and Williams delve into the history of one of its most prominent gangs in this engrossing history book.
• Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie by Rob Christopher
Having written about film for local blog Chicagoist for many years, Christopher is no stranger to cinema and puts his knowledge down in print in this collection. Offering capsules and recommendations, the book is a great addition to a budding cinephile's collection.
• Fire on the Prairie by Gary Rivilin
Out of print for years, Rivilin's essential biography of former Chicago mayor Harold Washington, who died while in office 25 years ago, has been given new life with this new revision which also ties in the 2008 election of Barack Obama.
• Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab by Dimitri Samarov
A city like Chicago deserves to have every story told and that's where Samarov's collection comes in: a look at the overlooked, a collection of the everyday mundane and surprising, a Terkel-like perspective that only a cab driver who knows the web of the city can offer.
• Vivian Maier: Street Photographer by Vivian Maier and John Maloof
When John Maloof purchased a collection of Chicagoan Maier's negatives from an auction house, he helped unveil to the world one of the great unsung street photographers of the 20th Century. Maier's stunning photos began making the rounds online shortly thereafter and are collected here in this wonderful collection.
• Building Stories by Chris Ware
One of Chicago's great (and precocious) young artists, this graphic novel is a something of a head trip, comprising the story of the residents of a Chicago three-flat in a way that doesn't just challenge the way a story is told but blows it apart into a million - or in this case, fourteen - separate pieces.
• Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect by Robert Sampson
Sampson delves into a comprehensive look at Chicago's neighborhoods and the way those neighborhoods affect and influence the city as a whole.
BONUS: Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever by Frank Sennett
The story of Groupon is one that's gone worldwide - and one that continues to unfold. The story of the company's meteoric rise under founder Andrew Mason - and his turning down of a $6 billion deal with Google - is captured here by Sennett (editor-in-chief of TimeOut Chicago), a compelling read in light of the company's recent challenges.