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"Guidebook To St. Louis"



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November 30, 2011
St. Louisans may agree that this is a great city, but they may disagree about what makes it so great. Each person has some favorite place to show off to out-of-town visitors.

In "Finally A Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Louis by and for St. Louisans, Neighborhood by Neighborhood" Amanda Doyle presents an insider's view of the entire metropolitan area. Whereas guidebooks aimed at non-residents may focus on attractions such as the Gateway Arch or the Missouri Botanical Garden, this book focuses on lesser-known places cherished by locals.

The attractive and informal layout encourages browsing rather than a cover-to-cover examination. Neighborhoods and municipalities are grouped into 15 chapters which cover the entire metropolitan area. There are chapters on St. Charles County, the Metro East, and even diversions within a few hours' drive of St. Louis.

Each chapter begins with a brief history of the area and includes sections on food and drink, shopping and recreation. The information provided about attractions is brief. In addition to directory listings for favorite spots, Doyle adds a few words about each place. Under Rothschild's Antiques & Home Furnishings on Euclid she writes, "Need a giant Mayan head, vintage racetrack poster, or leather headboard? Head here." To the listing for the Eat Rite Diner on Chouteau she adds, "Greasy menu, semi-greasy ambience, the slinger is king."

Doyle highlights not only cafes, bars and parks, but also every kind of beloved St. Louis oddity. In addition to the Cathedral Basilica on Lindell and the Kirkwood Train Station, she mentions the large Amoco sign on Clayton Road off Interstate 64/Highway 40. The book begins with a chapter on the top seven things about St. Louis that do not fit into any neighborhood categories.

Doyle writes that she makes no attempt to be comprehensive. Instead, she encourages readers to use this guide as a starting point for exploration. Website addresses and phone numbers are included, and readers are reminded that businesses open, close, and move. "The good and the bad of living in a thriving metropolis is the constant of change."

Much of the content is presented in sidebars throughout the book. This gives the books the feel of an enthusiastic tour guide. Paging through the book, one almost hears "Don't forget about..." The Tower Grove chapter includes a sidebar about the movie "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery." The South County chapter includes a picture of the 1950s neon sign for Federhofers's Bakery on Gravois.

This guidebook has much to offer even the most savvy St. Louisan. In many of the sidebars, Doyle adds to what readers may already know about their city. In the Downtown and Near North chapter, Doyle mentions that Pope John Paul II sought out the Polish sausages at Piekutowski's butcher shop during his 1999 visit. She also writes that in addition to the perfect acoustics at The Sheldon, visitors will find art galleries with changing exhibitions.

Doyle moved to St. Louis in 1997 and has worked for "Where" magazine for 11 years. She began accumulating knowledge about the city and wondered about the things St. Louisans were eager to show off in their own neighborhoods, especially things not featured in travel guides.

Local publisher Reedy Press worked with Doyle and paired her with Kerri Bonasch to create this quirky and affectionate love letter to St. Louis. "Finally A Locally Produced Guidebook" will be appreciated by both lifelong St. Louisans eager to explore and newcomers to the region.

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