Sep 18, 201308:47 AM
Nola Newbie

Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer

3 Books for Nola Newbies

Last week I started a book club with some friends, so I've been in a book worm mood lately. In the spirit of reading, I wanted to share with you guys three books I think all Nola Newbies should read, either because I've read them or heard good things. 

Quaint Essential New Orleans by Kevin J. Bozant
Like I said last week, I write mini book reviews for New Orleans Magazine, so a lot of interesting New Orleans-y books come across my desk. One of my favorites has been Quaint Essential New Orleans: A Crescent City Lexicon by Kevin J. Bozant. It reads like a dictionary of New Orleans terms, landmarks and more. Bozant has also written African American New Orleans: A Guide to 100 Civil Rights, Culture and Jazz Sites and Crescent City Soldiers: Military Monuments of New Orleans, which I also recommend.


Five Days At Memorial By Sheri Fink
I'm in the middle of this book right now and it is fantastic. If you haven't heard about Five Days at Memorial already, the book by Sheri Fink is an account of what happened at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina. As someone who lives in New Orleans now but didn't go through Katrina, the book is incredibly eye-opening, sad and thought-provoking. Like I said, I'm in the middle of this book, so I haven't made it to the end, but I already understand why this book has been getting great reviews and lots of buzz. In our world of blogging and Buzzfeed "listicles," it's refreshing to read something that is incredibly well-researched; Fink spent six years researching it, conducting more than 500 interviews.


Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table By Sara Roahen
I have not yet read Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen, but I've heard from multiple people it is THE book to read when you move to New Orleans. I'll read it soon and let you guys know how it is. 


Happy reading!

Reader Comments:
Sep 18, 2013 10:54 am
 Posted by  Mark R

Just got Five Days At Memorial and can't wait to start it. One of my favorite New Orleans reads is The Sound of Building Coffins by my friend Louis Maistros. You can't put it down!

Sep 18, 2013 11:04 am
 Posted by  deb

Always enjoy your posts Haley, and often send them to my son who lives in the Irish Channel. Gumbo Tales is a great read. Haven't read the others but thanks for the list. I just finished a book on historic churches of greater New Orleans, many are using the book as a historic church travel guide. It's a paperback book filled with 160 glossy pages of history and photos. The title is "Hallowed Halls of Greater New Orleans: Historic Churches, Cathedrals and Sanctuaries." Anne Rice did the foreword and contributed her childhood memories growing up in St. Alphonsus church in chapter one. Check out the book description and my church photo gallery at I'll mail you a copy.

Sep 18, 2013 11:11 am
 Posted by  John from Uptown

I would add A Confederacy of Dunces and Frenchmen Desire Goodchildren to the list.

Sep 18, 2013 11:45 am
 Posted by  tim

Let me also toss into the mix, The Accidental City, by Tulane professor, Lawrence Powell. This is the story of our founding by a monarchy, our subsequent ruling by another monarchy, through our acquisition by a very young republic. The foundation that was laid in the 1700s and 1800s are much in evidence today. Tim

Sep 18, 2013 12:18 pm
 Posted by  jo4tax

Hi, just a reminder - it's you'll NOT you guys!

Sep 18, 2013 03:11 pm
 Posted by  PatriotPaul

Great recommendations, Haley. As a Calif. tourist who was stuck in the Superdome during Katrina and the devastating levee failures, Ms. Fink's book I'm sure will be an emotional roller coaster ride for me. To those medical personnel at the Superdome who worked tirelessly with no running water, horrific sanitary conditions, and little medicine, I salute you. These folks are some of the true heroes and I can never condemn anyone for trying their best and doing what they know in their hearts they needed to do.

Paul Harris
Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

Sep 18, 2013 04:03 pm
 Posted by  adelee

My personal favorite is New Orleans, Mon Amour: 20 Years of Writing from the City by Andrei Codrescu. Recently enjoyed My Bayou: New Orleans through the Eyes of a Lover by Constance Adler.

Sep 25, 2013 05:15 pm
 Posted by  Wheeler0803


My husband and I are in the beginning stages of transferring to New Orleans. I have lived in Indiana my entire life and am very excited for this adventure and scared out of my mind. I started reading your blog posts last night and haven't been able to stop. I even missed New Girl to keep reading.

Two months after marriage and now a possible move to New Orleans is insane and your blog is grounding me little. I really appreciate it. I bought all three books from amazon today.

Keep the great advice coming. I need it!


Sep 26, 2013 12:12 pm
 Posted by  Jeanne

Welcome to NOLA! One thing to remember: here we support buying local. (That is in reference to your book purchase.)
All best wishes to you! By the way, put Richard Campanella on your reading list. (Bienville's Dilemma, Geographies of New Orleans, ...the list goes on). He is a historical geographer from Tulane and can explain our history so well. Also, "yes" to The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans by Lawrence Powell. A brilliant book that takes the reader from the founding of New Orleans to Statehood. In 2014 another book by Powell is due out that picks up where the first book left off and goes to the assassination of Huey Long. Campanella will also come out with his new book in 2014 which will be the history of Bourbon Street. Guess you have your reading cut out for you!
Geaux Saints!!

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Nola Newbie

Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer


Haley AdamsHaley Adams has lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Missouri, Indiana and France, but she now calls Louisiana home. After graduating from Indiana University in December 2010, Haley moved back to her home, Columbia, Mo., to work for Inside Columbia magazine and mooch off her parents. After a year and a half at the small city magazine, Haley moved to the South to be the web editor at Renaissance Publishing in August 2012.

In addition to managing and Renaissance Publishing's social media, Haley is the editor of New Orleans Bride, as well as an associate editor for Renaissance Publishing's other publications.

When Haley is not at the office, she is probably trying a new restaurant, looking for places to shop or exploring the South with her boyfriend, Chris, and their dog, Leila. You can reach Haley at (504) 830-7259 or




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