By Magdalene Paniotte

With the Christmas holiday only a few weeks away these festive books about Chicago would make great gifts, or could serve as delightful coffee-table decor to brighten up the season when entertaining at home.

(Credit: Cornerstone Press Chicago)

“Chicago Christmas: One Hundred Years of Christmas Memories”
Jim Benes
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A sentimental glimpse of past Christmases in Chicago dating back 100 years, this heartwarming collage of photographs and touching stories is creatively designed in nostalgic fashion by longtime WBBM-AM radio editor Jim Benes. The book is a true-to-life celebration of the season and could become a splendid collector’s item observing abundantly joyous occurrences, miraculous incidents and great acts of generosity on or near this favorite holiday. Included are notable changes in consumer tastes of popular products marking the passage of time, as well as memorable moments of political significance to eloquently document the historic meaning and relevance of Christmas.

(Credit: Voyageur Press)

“The Best Christmas Decorations in Chicagoland: Your Guide to More Than 200 Spectacular Holiday Displays”
Mary Edsey
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This superb volume by native Chicagoan Mary Edsey highlights more than 200 of the most beautifully decorated Christmas displays to be found in the Chicago area during the holiday season. The author enthusiastically encourages families to take a guided tour of the Windy City’s spectacular Chicago landmarks such as Navy Pier or Buckingham Fountain, and to enjoy the plenitude of storybook window displays, dazzlingly designed to put admiring viewers in a festive mood. This marvelous book includes entertaining trivia with maps and directions to breathtaking and elaborate lighting of residential neighborhoods, as well as unique and amusing stories about the decorators who celebrate this most cherished time of year. 

(Credit: Arcadia Publishing)

“Christmas on State Street: 1940s and Beyond”
Robert P. Lederer
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A holiday classic by Robert Lederer, this wonderful pictorial captures the spirit and tradition of Christmas on Chicago’s State Street, “that great street” in all its splendor, from the 1940s and beyond. The book takes a stroll down memory lane in fond recollection of the season’s festivities, depicting early black-and-white images of established department stores beginning with Sears, which was known as the ‘world’s largest store’ at the time. The impressive array of photographs includes Wieboldt’sCarson Pirie Scott and the elegant Walnut Room at Marshall Field’s, with interesting detail to illuminate the process of how that enormous pine tree could be displayed there year after year.

Related: Five Fall Reads for Chicagoans

(Credit: Arcadia Publishing)

“The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (Images of America: Illinois)”
Ellen S. Farrar
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This fabulous holiday book is an iconic photographic collection of Chicago’s world-famous Michigan Avenue celebrating its rich culture and history in grand style during the Christmas season. Originally known as Pine Street, The Magnificent Mile has developed immensely since the 1920’s era and today welcomes more than 18 million visitors annually. In keeping with the city’s longstanding tradition of lighting a towering Christmas tree every year, the prestigious Magnificent Mile Lights Festival officially starts off the season with the flip of a switch, bringing all of Chicago’s antiquated charm and architectural beauty aglow with a million little white lights. Sponsored by the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, this fascinating event is a nationally televised sight to behold, with a million or more spectators participating in the joyful merriment of the occasion.

(Credit: Contemporary Books)

“Marshall Field’s Frango Chocolate Cookbook”
Marshall Field
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Marshall Field’s department store was founded in Chicago and reigned supreme in it’s day. Best known by the logo “give the lady what she wants” this classic cookbook is now a collector’s item, featuring the store’s rich culinary history in the very best of holiday tradition. Published in 1988, the book presents 60 dessert recipes of pure chocolate decadence prepared with the famous Frango trademark flavor, in 176 pages of mouth watering photographs. Included are special baking and melting techniques to produce these delectable, elegant creations. From the favorite Frango Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, to the Frango Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Pie or the irresistible Frango Truffle Torte, these delicious gourmet treats are perfect for the holiday season.

Best New Chicago Books

Magdalene Paniotte is from Chicago and very pleased to be a CBS Contributor. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre and has studied creative writing at the graduate level. Maggie enjoys composing articles and developing her voice as a freelance writer. Her work can be found at