Behold, the Columbus Book Boom

Heather Barr
Book covers, clockwise from top: "Columbus Uncovered"; "Columbus Noir"; "LGBTQ Columbus"; "111 Places in Columbus That You Must Not Miss"; "The Columbus Anthology"

At some point civic pride became a cottage industry, and the local love has extended into literature, with new Columbus-centric books hitting shelves regularly. The five highlighted here have been released in just the past year (occasional Columbus Monthly contributors produced three of them: “111 Places in Columbus,” “Columbus Noir” and “The Columbus Anthology”). With the coronavirus forcing many of us to hole up indoors, and only so many hours one can spend watching Netflix, it’s the perfect time to catch up on reading.

If you’re spending self-isolation preparing for off-the-wall questions at bar trivia, this book—subtitled “Fascinating, Real-Life Stories About Unusual People, Places & Things in Ohio’s Capital City”—is the one for you. Learn about odd attractions, like a 1903 stage play with eight galloping horses, and scandals, like a 19th-century pharmacist who loved to sunbathe atop his castle in the nude. 

This collection of fiction by a group of 13 local writers, including Lee Martin, Nancy Zafris and Chris Bournea, is perfect for fans of crime novels and mysteries. The book tells stories of Columbus’ dark doppelganger, where greed and pride have run rampant. Although they’re fictional, they delve into aspects of the city that are all too real: the opioid epidemic, murder and corruption.

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The images and extended captions in this photojournalistic retrospective give an intersectional look at 50 years of Columbus’ LGBTQ history. It offers details on everything from the underground Berwick Ball in the ’60s to the city’s first Pride parade in the ’80s to the protestors in the 2017 parade who became known as the Black Pride 4. In addition to the historic photos, newspaper headlines and other artifacts underscore the strength of the Columbus LGBTQ community through the decades.

This compilation of short articles serves as a wide-ranging primer on the city’s quintessential places to eat, drink and explore. From professional and amateur sports to the lively arts community, Gurvis examines hidden gems and Columbus staples in this insider’s guide. The book’s 111 full-page color photographs by Mitch Geiser provide a portrait of the city’s historic landmarks, modern attractions and obscure eccentricities, like a stuffed pigeon named Pete in the Statehouse cupola.

Unlike Cleveland and Cincinnati, Columbus has always seemed prone to identity crises. This collection features local writers, artists and musicians sharing their perspectives on what, exactly, the city was, is and could become. Poet Maggie Smith wrestles with the ugly legacy of the city’s namesake, essayist Hanif Abdurraqib offers his take on the unifying power of the Crew, and Anyway Records founder Bela Koe-Krompecher reflects on the rise and eventual dissolution of the city’s 1990s-era rock scene. 


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