14 Best Books About New Orleans History Update 05/2022

Many people who are creative and write have always looked up to New Orleans as an inspiration for their art and writing. Many authors have been inspired by the historic architecture, unique culture, and spirited personalities in our city to write stories that are as lively as New Orleans.

Britton Trice, the manager of the Garden District Book Shop, has put together this list of books about New Orleans for this summer. They show the city’s history, architecture, and culture. A mix of classics and new books, these page-turners are great to read this summer while you’re on vacation, relaxing by the pool, or waiting for the storm to pass in New Orleans.

Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

In the last days of summer in 2005, a storm with more power than the bomb that hit Hiroshima rips the face off southern Louisiana.

Feast of all Saints by Anne Rice

In the days before the Civil War, there was a group of people in Louisiana who were very different from other people in Southern history. Though they were descendants of African slaves, they were also descendants of the French and Spanish who took them as slaves. The Free People of Color are a group of men and women who live in a world that is both master and slave, privileged and oppressed, and full of passion and pain. This dazzling historical novel tells the stories of four of them.

New Orleans Observed: Drawings and Observations of America’s Most Foreign  City by Errol Barron

A collection of drawings and observations made by Errol Barron while he was on leave from the Tulane University School of Architecture” (2009). A few hours each day, he would drive or ride a bicycle through the different parts of the city, stopping when something caught his eye. The book is broken up into sections like the old quarter, downtown, the center, and uptown, with examples of local buildings, places, and oddities.

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

New York Times best-selling author Isabel Allende’s new book, Portrait in Sepia, is about a mulatta woman who is both a slave and a concubine who wants to change her own future. The story takes place in the sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue and the luxurious parlors of New Orleans at the turn of the 19th century.

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

Coming of age novel set in New Orleans during the civil rights era. A novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans by Jeanne Delavigne, Charles Richards (Illustrator), Frank de Caro (Foreword by)

New Orleans’ Royal Street is said to be full of ghosts. The dead are said to sing holy songs in St. Louis Cathedral, and the graveyard tombs of wealthy madams are said to glow red at night. In her book, Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans, Jeanne deLavigne collects local stories about supernatural sightings. She says that bitter lovers, vengeful slaves, and menacing gypsies can be found in almost every part of the city, from the French Quarter to the Garden District.

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

In 1961, the book that made Walker Percy a big name in Southern literature won the National Book Award. Now, for the first time, it’s available in Vintage paperback.

A Separate Country: A Story of Redemption in the Aftermath of the Civil War by Robert Hicks

It’s based on the life of John Bell Hood, a Confederate general who was both controversial and tragic. A Separate Country is set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, Walker Percy (Foreword by)

“A Confederacy of Dunces is one of the best American comic books.” His name is Ignatius J. Reilly, and he’s a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. John Kennedy Toole’s hero is ‘huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, and a Don Quixote of the French Quarter.’ His story is full of unique characters, people who live in New Orleans’ lower depths, and the funniest high and low comic adventures you’ve ever seen.

Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

Popular author Gary Krist has written a vivid and immersive account of New Orleans’s “other civil war,” which took place during a time when the city was full of commercialized vice, jazz culture, and crime.

Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History by Peter B. Dedek

In The Cemeteries of New Orleans, Peter B. Dedek talks about the history and development of the Crescent City’s world-famous necropolises. He also talks about their unique architecture and how they have shaped the city’s culture. From muddy fields of crude grave markers to extravagantly designed cities of the dead, a fascinating body of research spans centuries. It illuminates a piece of New Orleans’s identity that is both important and vulnerable.

Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E. Davis

The first time painter Winslow Homer sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, he was amazed by its “special kind of providence.” Indeed, the Gulf of Mexico was seen as a part of the American experience because of its geography, culture, and traditions. However, there has never been a complete history of the Gulf until now. It’s finally been done. Environmental historian Jack E. Davis has written a book that looks at the Gulf of Mexico through the lens of our human connection to the sea. It goes back to the Pleistocene era and goes all the way to the twenty-first century.

Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names by Sally Asher

“New Orleans is a city full of beautiful contrasts, which can be seen in the names of its streets.” Hope, Pleasure, and Battles are all over New Orleans. With nuns, the market, and race. Music, arts, and painters are all the same. People who live in New Orleans are protected by saints, inspired by Muses, and brave enough to fight for their country. The city’s street names are a part of its rich history

The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square by Ned Sublette

A look at “The World That Made New Orleans.”

Offers a new look at this city that isn’t well known. It tells the remarkable story of New Orleans’s first century, which includes imperial war, religious conflict, the search for treasure, the spread of slavery, the Cuban connection, the cruel aristocracy of sugar, and the very different revolutions that led to the United States and Haiti.

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