A book set in Kansas and the Emerald City is Illinois’ best book of the past 200 years.
Illinois’ Top 200 voters picked “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” as the best book in Illinois history.
Chris Wills with the state’s Historic Preservation Agency said author L. Frank Baum wrote the novel while living in Chicago and used his niece, who is buried in Bloomington, as inspiration.
Wills said Chicago’s other most-famous book, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, came in second. “The Jungle” is known for its look inside the meat packing industry based in Chicago in the early 20th Century.
“It’s a very emotional portrait of the conditions that these people faced,” Wills said. “But also it documented the incredibly unsafe conditions for food preparations. And it inspired a lot of changes to the federal laws on food safety.”
“The Devil in the White City,” “Spoon River Anthology,” and “Native Son” round out the top five.
“The ‘Spoon River Anthology’ is a book of poems that shows the behind-the-scenes life of a small town,” Wills said. “It’s based on Lewiston, Illinois, and Petersburg, Illinois.”
Wills said “Dandelion Wine,” “Boss,” “The House on Mango Street” and “The Good War” rounded out the state’s top ten books.
Top 200 voters are picking the state’s best authors this week at IllinoisTop200.com.