Introducing the Inaugural Issue of Better: Best of 2019

Happy fall! Does something look different to you? We’re so excited to present this inaugural issue of Better. Not just a new name, our transformation brings a new look, a new website, and an even broader reach throughout Chicagoland and across the country. If you haven’t already joined us online, we hope you will by subscribing to our Better Letter at

It’s no accident that we’re unveiling this first issue of Better in conjunction with our “Best of 2019” readers’ choice awards, our annual competition that lets you celebrate the businesses and organizations that make your life and community better (it’s also one of our favorite parts of our publishing year!).

For the big reveal, turn to page 43 to learn the 187 winners in the city and suburbs — and take notes! There are so many newcomers to this list we can’t wait for you to check out, plus plenty of repeat winners so good at what they do you’ll want to make sure you have them on your radar.

Two cases in point are this year’s winners for Best Architect: first-time winner in the city category, Kipnis Architecture + Planning, and repeat winner in the suburbs, Reynolds Architecture (Reynolds was also named Best Builder: Suburbs for the first time this year). To give you a taste of why our readers think these businesses are tops — and because we can always use some home design and décor inspo — we asked them to share glimpses of a few recent projects, and the results are stunning (p. 54).

The arrival of fall tends to inspire reflections on the passage of time — we mourn the end of summer; kids head back to school another year older; we look ahead to the holidays and bidding another calendar year farewell. If you find yourself waxing contemplative about time flying by, be sure to read bestselling author Jerry Jampolsky’s beautiful first-person piece, “Senior Boomers” (p. 68), for an important reminder that growing older can be something to celebrate, not fear.

We’re all about positivity at Better, but let’s be honest, the onslaught of another Chicago winter is something worthy of our fear, so you’ll want to have your escape plan in place. To help, we’ve packed this issue with travel content to inspire your wanderlust. First, I join two of my favorite travel writers in naming our ultimate bucket-list destinations for every type of traveler (p. 60). Then, on page 81, hotel guru Amber Gibson (seriously, the woman spends 350 nights a year in hotels, so she knows her stuff) names the 10 best new hotels for 2019. BRB, we’re packing our bags!

As always, you’ll find plenty more in this issue to keep you busy for the rest of the year, from festive fall fun (p. 33) to the holiday season’s hottest theater tickets (p. 96).

Thanks for joining us for this next phase of our journey. Our readers are truly what make us Better.

Editor in Chief of Better, Brooke Geiger McDonald is a Chicago native who has worked for O, The Oprah Magazine and Shape magazine in New York and for various book publishers in London. Back home in Chicago, she’s outnumbered by her husband and two sons, and the four of them are certifiable Disney and Star Wars fanatics, always counting down the days to their next Disney vacation. Her favorite nonprofits to support include The Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago and organizations focused on environmental conservation and combatting climate change, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Shedd Aquarium. Follow her on Instagram: @brookegmcdonald