Michael Hainey  


by Mike Royko

“A masterpiece that has been overlooked in the past decades, written by Royko, the best newspaper columnist this country has produced in the past half century. On the surface, it is a portrait of Chicago’s [former mayor] Richard J. Daley, the Irish pol who ruled the city for [nearly] 25 years until his death in 1976. But it is also a beautifully written and fascinating exploration and explanation of how one man can create a city in his likeness. This book was among the first to weave biography and narrative into a beautiful tapestry. Royko would’ve punched me for using such language.”

Division Street: America

by Studs Terkel

“What Walt Whitman was to the 19th century and the voice of one man, Studs Terkel was to the 20th century and the voice of everyman. Over the course of several years and against the backdrop of the societal shifts of the ’60s and ’70s, Terkel interviewed ‘common’ people along Chicago’s Division Street to hear their dreams and ambitions, frustrations and fears. It reminds us that all of us have stories to share—and all of us can learn from them.”

A Moveable Feast

by Ernest Hemingway

“Ranks with Proust in its ability to show us how great writers give voice to that most powerful quality: memory.”

In Cold Blood

by Truman Capote

“The book which inspires and guides all great narrative nonfiction of the past [45] years and shows that the foundation of a great book is reporting, reporting, reporting.”

Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

“Like A Moveable Feast, it’s a work that captures and articulates the power memory has over us. But it also wrestles with the timeless dynamics between fathers and sons, sons and mothers and husbands and wives. As good as anything the Greeks ever produced.”


Michael Hainey, GQ’s Deputy Editor and author of After Visiting Friends, gives us a book list worth picking up

t’s starting to feel a little cooler outside these days. So as we begin to pull out our favorite sweaters, stock our wine racks with big bottles of red and pile up bundles of firewood, let’s not forget to stack up books to enjoy on the long nights to come. To help us with that last part (though he’d probably kill it on the sweaters and wine, too), we called upon GQ Deputy Editor Michael Hainey, not only one of the most well-read guys we know but also the author of one of our favorite recent reads.

Michael Hainey

(Left) the cover of Hainey’s book features an image of his mother and late father; (right) Hainey’s mother, Barbara Coriden, joins him at the book’s release party in February 2013


Titled After Visiting Friends, Hainey’s book takes the reader inside the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a young newspaperman in early 1970s Chicago. It paints a portrait of a bygone era when cops and reporters drank till dawn at dive bars and did favors for one another when it came to providing and withholding information, including, perhaps, covering up the aforementioned newspaperman’s death. The book reads like a masterfully crafted pulp novel, except for one key twist: The newspaperman in question was Hainey’s father, Bob Hainey, Chicago Sun-Times assistant copy desk chief, who died when the author was just 6 years old. So it’s Michael Hainey himself, writing in the first person, who plays the tireless reporter searching for answers—sometimes against his family’s wishes—of what really happened to his father on the night he died. The journey is both intensely personal and wildly compelling. After Visiting Friends is one of those books that leaves you wanting more once you’ve put it down, so we asked Hainey to give us a list of narratives that inspired him as he crafted his story in hopes of continuing the journey with him. Flip through the slideshow above to see his picks and start your fall reading list.

  • Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris; Courtesy of Getty Images
  • Photo by Neilson Barnard; Courtesy of Getty Images
  • After Visiting Friends courtesy of Scribner
  • Boss courtesy of Plume
  • Division Street: America courtesy of New Press
  • A Moveable Feast courtesy of Scribner
  • In Cold Blood courtesy of Vintage
  • Death of a Salesman courtesy of Penguin Classics