World that Made New Orleans– Ned Subette This one gets into the history of the ancestral roots of the people that make up NOLA. Explains Cajun, creole, quadroons and more terms unique to NOLA.
Nine Lives– Dan Baum 9 true stories pre and post Katrina lives.
A Confederacy of Dunces– John Kennedy Toole The most unlikely story but the author killed himself as this book was rejected by all major book companies. His mom found a copy of the book and pestered a professor at Tulane to read it for over a year! Of course its one of the best and funniest books written during the 20th century and set in New Orleans. Won a Pulitzer for literature too.
Accidental City– Lawrence N Powell So far the most comprehensive history of the area that is NOLA. It starts out literally a millennia ago as the Mississippi dumps huge amounts of sediments at the gulf end of the river, thus creating bayous to the ocean. It explains natives role in shaping the city, the sad slavery part is covered too.
Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children– John Churchill Chase A wonderful read about street names in NOLA and how they got named. More than 1 plantation estate has been gambled away to become a neighbourhood.
Beautiful Crescent– Joan B Garvey & MaryLou Widmer The book is recommended to take the tour guide test. Basic overview of NOLA.
Empire of Sin– Gary Krist If you’ve seen The Wire Season 3 this spot in NOLA was an inspiration for Hampsterdam. For 40 years in a section of NOLA everything was legal. Prostitution drugs booze you name it Storyville had it. Everyone had to have a permit to live in this part of town, though there was no reason given for said permit. It only verified that person was allowed to live in Storyville.
Inventing New Orleans: Writings of Lafcadio Hearn– former columnist of the Orleans Daily Item, Times-Democrat, Harper’s Weekly, and Scribner’s Magazine, he details New Orleans city life 1877-1887.
Bourbon Street: A History Richard Campanella- The whole history of likely the most famous street in the US, Bourbon St. Loved and hated by locals and visitors, this book details the history of this street of sin beginning with the French, Spanish, 20’s gangsters, and post- Katrina days.
Bienville’s Dilemma Richard Campenella- 65 articles about all aspects of New Orleans life and residents from its founding in 1718 to current geography and populations post Katrina.