St. Louis perhaps doesn't get the best reputation for being an idyllic city. Stories set in Paris, New York, Calcutta, Shanghai, or London? Sure - we've all read at least one or two of those. Stories set in St. Louis? Maybe not.
St. Louis and the greater metropolitan area have always been known as a music city - jazz, blues, and ragtime live here like they do nowhere else. Ask anyone who's spent an evening at Hammerstone's in Soulard, or visit the Scott Joplin house for proof.
So why not literature? Art is art - and if it works for literary greats like Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, or Tennessee Williams, the Lou can certainly inspire writers of all types.
Have you read any books on this list? Why not take the time this weekend to order a copy of one of these books from the St. Louis Public Library, and delve into the literary world that surrounds the Gateway to the West.
by Maya Angelou
This book is partially set in St. Louis, where an 8-year-old Maya Angelou spent years living with her mother. An autobiographical memoir and Angelou's debut work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings describes bigotry, childhood, and the beauty of words. There's a reason why this book was so popular, folks!
by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie is a play that you may or may not have read in high school Lit class. Set in St. Louis in the 1930s, it's still shockingly relevant today. The play depicts and loosely strung, self-destructive family and their ironic, Great Depression-era struggles. As a young man, Williams was employed at the St. Louis International Shoe Company factory - which is where the leading man, Tom, works in the play.
by Laurell K Hamilton
Many of the Anita Blake books have ended up on the New York Time's Best Seller's List - and St. Louis readers will recognize many of the settings in the books, as all of them take place in the greater St. Louis area. This series is definitely adult-only, as it features scenes of an explicit sexual nature. However, adults with a passion for fantasy might enjoy the adventures of Anita in a world where supernatural creatures have been named legal citizens.
by Johnathan Franzen
Between 1870 and the early 1900s, St. Louis was the fourth most populated city in the United States of America, a distinction lost starting at the 1920s census. By the 1980s - when The Twenty-seventh City is set, it was demoted to the 27th on the list. The book chronicles the bizarre political intrigue, that occurs when the City elects a female Indian immigrant as the new police chief.
And One Honorable Mention: 5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
Both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - two famous novels by the highly esteemed Mark Twain, are set in a fictional city in Missouri. The fictional town of St. Petersberg is based on Mark Twain's actual hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. Although the majority of Huck Finn takes place along the Mississippi and in the south, St. Louisians will no doubt recognize places in the book as well as the overall spirit of the Big Muddy.