The Best Books Set in Las Vegas

The City of Sin has long fascinated the outside world. If you’re a movie lover, you might already be familiar with the countless depictions of Las Vegas on the big screen. With its restless atmosphere and bigger-than-life characters, the city already seems straight out of a motion picture. But many novelists have also drawn their inspiration from the Entertainment Capital of the World. Here are some of the best literary works to get to know the City that Never Sleeps. 

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

It might be an obvious choice, but Thompson’s best-known work hasn’t lost any of its appeal since the 1970s. The story unfolds as Raoul Duke and Dr.Gonzo, his attorney, arrive in Vegas to chase the American Dream. This marks the beginning of an hallucinatory road trip through Sin City. 

The book was published in 1971 to mixed reviews. The vivid descriptions of drug use sparked much criticism. So did the sheer nature of this roman-à-clef. Thompson indeed mixed elements of fiction and real-life incidents. 

His use of sarcasm and subjectivity as a means of social critique eventually became so influential, it gave birth to a new writing style known as gonzo journalism.

Despite the early bashing, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was ultimately hailed as a benchmark of American literature. The novel also inspired cinema. Director Terry Gilliam adapted it in 1995, in a cult classic starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. Recently, Canadian artist The Weeknd paid tribute to the film in the music video for his hit “Heartless”.

Leaving Las Vegas – John O’Brien

Behind the neon lights and the glitter, Las Vegas can be an unforgiving place. John O’Brien’s first novel explores the relationship between two disenfranchised souls. Ben is an alcoholic writer. To leave Las Vegas, he is determined to drink himself to death. 

That is, before he meets Sera, an abused sex worker. She will be his silver lining until the cycle of self-destruction begins again.

O’Brien borrows elements of Thompson’s style to bring to life the stories of his wretched protagonists. He uses the present tense to give an immediacy to the events that unfold, while the heavy irony and raw writing set a dark tone in the shiny backdrop of the City of Sin. 

Five years after the book’s publication, it was adapted for the cinema. Directed by Mike Figgis, the movie was a critical and commercial success. The iconic performance delivered by Nicolas Cage even earned him an Academy Award. Sadly, John O’Brien never lived to see it. Barely two weeks after he learned that his semi-autobiographical work would hit the big screen, he tragically took his life.  

Super Casino: Inside the New Las Vegas – Pete Earley

In 2001, award-winning journalist Pete Earley set on a path to explore the gambling industry in Vegas from the inside out. His goal? Discover what made Las Vegas so fascinating in the eyes of so many. To flesh out the backbone of his book, he met with casino bosses, strippers, and wannabe-gamblers. The result is a vibrant testimony to the power of attraction that the City of Sin holds.

If you love all things casino, this book is just what you need. Earley paints a mesmerizing picture of Las Vegas and its evolution from a remote desert town to the Gambling Capital of the World. 

While Vegas isn’t the oldest casino destination in history, it remains the most influential. And it’s come a long way from the old days of the Golden Gate Casino, which opened as early as 1908. Super Casino goes past the gaudy facade to revisit the fascinating rebirth of the iconic Strip. It also gives some insight into the enduring passion for gambling that goes way past land-based casinos. 

The internet has reignited the spark for gambling, and new casinos are taking the world by storm. Online casinos are on the rise, thanks to cutting-edge technologies and innovative gameplay. The best platforms offer a variety of fun-filled options, from timeless classics to exciting new games. Plus, new players can enjoy a wide range of promotions and bonuses. 

Still, Vegas remains a once-in-a-lifetime experience for gamblers. But there’s no doubt that new casinos are already shaping the future of gambling.

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