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Mardi Gras

If Valentine’s Day was just not your holiday, Mardi Gras might be, and for many people, Mardi Gras is synonymous with New Orleans.

If you can’t make it to the Crescent City for February 28th this year, the following titles will make you feel like you’ve learned something about its complex history and delicious food.

A Free Man of ColorBarbara Hambly

A Free Man of Color – Barbara Hambly

The protagonist of this historical mystery is Benjamin January, a free man of color in 1830s New Orleans. Trained as a physician and surgeon, and newly returned from Paris but unable to find work, January has been making a living playing music at the balls preceding Mardi Gras. When a free woman of color is murdered at one of those balls, January is the only one willing to discover the guilty party.

Barbara Hambly is a prolific author, equally comfortable writing historical fiction, mysteries, and science fiction.

This is the first title in an excellent series. In each book, the murder mystery is embedded in the complicated realities of 1830s New Orleans.

For another mystery series addressing the complexities of race during changing times, try Kris Nelscotts Smokey Dalton series, set in 1960s Memphis and Chicago.


Out of the EasyRuta Sepetys

Out of the Easy – Ruta Sepetys

A murder in her neighborhood threatens to unravel the preparations seventeen year old Josie has made for her future. Raised in the 1950s underworld of the French Quarter, Josie is ready to flee to a respectable life in New England, but even the help of her friends may not be enough to save Josie from her mother’s bad choices.

Ruta Sepetys is known for unforgettable novels about teens swept into difficult situations. Her titles include Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea.


DollbabyLaura Lane McNeal

Dollbaby – Laura Lane McNeal

When eleven year old Ibby’s father dies, she feels like she has lost both her parents. Her mother disappears after leaving Ibby, and Ibby’s father’s ashes, in her grandmother’s eccentric New Orleans household.

This novel about family secrets is set in 1964, and is suggested for fans of Southern novelists Pat Conroy and Sue Monk Kidd.


Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New OrleansDon Brown

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans – Don Brown

This nonfiction title describes the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with the immediacy of a novel.

This title brings together text and visuals in a narrative more powerful than either element could achieve alone, and is especially effective for readers too young to have watched the news coverage as the hurricane happened.

Don Brown’s compelling visual style is perfectly suited to historical topics. He has written books on Alexander Hamilton’s famous duel, the sinking of the Titanic, and the ravages of the American Dust Bowl.

If you want to better understand how the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina continues to affect the people of New Orleans try

We’re Still Here, Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City by Roberta Brandes Gratz

We’re Still Here, Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City -- Roberta Brandes Gratz


Eat Dat New Orleans: a Guide to the Unique Food Culture of the Crescent CityMichael Murphy

Eat Dat New Orleans: a Guide to the Unique Food Culture of the Crescent City – Michael Murphy

The food, restaurants, and ambience of New Orleans are a testament to her people’s ability to survive and thrive. This guide, written by an author who decided to move to the city during his first visit seven years ago, also features food festivals, culinary classes, and specialized tours.

This is just one of several titles dedicated to the unique flavors of New Orleans cooking and the history of its food and culture.


We have books, CDs, DVDs, and more, on Mardi Gras and New Orleans, available through our library system. Check some of them out!

Enjoy your literary and historical tour of the city!

Happy Reading!