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The Ticketless Traveler

A Reading List for New Orleans


Regina Spektor's music, summer nights, and NYC are intertwined inside of me. As the air grows warm, I find myself listening to her music as she sings of summer in the city and selling butterflies on street corners. This summer, I am attending my first American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. I am bursting with pure joy to visit such a literary and musical city while attending my first professional conference. I have had a few summers in this city, and now I am ready to experience a small slice of another. 

To prepare for the conference, I am reading books and articles with New Orleans as a theme. I am also watching films, television shows, and documentaries about New Orleans. I don't pretend that reading and watching these things will help me to completely understand the city. Yet, I want to give the city and the people who make it so wonderful the respect they deserve by preparing for my visit. I will just be a "tourist" (a terrible thing for most New Yorkers) in New Orleans, but at least I will be a well-read tourist. 

As for the list below, I have inlcuded things that I have already read or seen, along with things that I am currently reading (and will be reading when I get back). The conference starts with the Keynote speaker, Dan Savage, who is a sex columnist, author, editor, and activist, whom I admire as much as Ira Glass (and I didn't think that was possible). I have included Mr. Savage on my list because he is funny, admirable, and worthy of recommendation. Please comment on the blog and include more suggestions for the list!

Dan Savage:

Viewing List:

Non-Fiction Reading List:

Fiction Reading List:



Articles by Francis Lam (disclaimer: we have a mutual friend, but I have not met Mr. Lam, so I am still partially objective):

For a more complete list of works with New Orleans in mind, visit



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You've missed: All Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January mysteries set in 1830s New Orleans WPA Guide to New Orleans Cyprian Davis' biography of Henrietta Delille C.J. Henderson's Inspector Legrasse of New Orleans stories

Don't forget ...

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy! It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962 and is one of many Walker Percy novels set in or around New Orleans. I read (and loved) it once years ago and had hoped to read it again before ALA this year, but I couldn't quite work it in. Happy to see Jitterbug Perfume is already on the list. It's my favorite Tom Robbins novel and is certainly full of NOLA flavor! As for music, whew, where to begin! Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jelly Roll Morton, Dr. John (I'm not sure there's ever been an album more representative of New Orleans than Dr. John's Gumbo), The Meters, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Galactic, The Neville Brothers, and all those great brass bands like Preservation Hall, Dirty Dozen, and New Birth. The list goes on and on. Possibly my favorite of all is the legendary producer and recording artist Allen Toussaint. The first time I went to New Orleans, I was only 13 or so -- too young to know much about the town's history. I predict that this trip will be much more fulfilling!

Walker Percy & Music

Thanks for the great suggestions! I have already placed "The Moviegoer" on hold to read, along with Dr. John and Preservation Hall. I hoped you enjoyed ALA as much as I did.

Tradition is all well & good ...

...but if you want to hear the sound of 21st Century New Orleans, check out Greg Dulli's post-Afghan Whigs project, The Twilight Singers.


Katrina-related: The great deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza Trouble the Water (film)

Confederacy of Dunces

I'm so glad to see Confederacy of Dunces on your list! When my husband and I lived in NOLA it was required reading for our guests. If we didn't give them one of our own copies to read, we'd take them to Falkner House Books in the French Quarter to buy their own.

James Lee Burke

especially Jesus Out to Sea, last story

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Very engrossing non-fiction related to Katrina.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers' Zeitoun is a must-read, about one family's struggle in post-Katrina New Orleans.


I almost picked this book up at the conference, but I was swept away by some hand stitched hardcover editions of my favorite classics. I have placed it on hold to read!

The New Normal

Look into the work of a local independent publisher called Nolafugees Press. They've published some great non-fiction collections (Year Zero, Soul is Bulletproof) as well as a short story collection called LIFE IN THE WAKE and two short novels (The Parade Goes on Without You, The Least Resistance). A real insiders look at life after the storm. It bugs me a bit that all your fiction is at least a couple of decades old. Try BABYLON ROLLING by Amanda Boyden and MORE OF THIS WORLD OR MAYBE ANOTHER, by Barb Johnson for more contemporary work of high quality. Thanks for coming to NOLA and come back soon!

New fiction

Thanks for suggesting Nolafugees Press: "The Parade Goes on Without You" By Amanda Boyden looks like a must-read.

I would recommend the books

I would recommend the books by David Fulmer. There are mysteries set in the heyday of Jass (the old spelling of jazz). Jass and Rampart Street are great

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