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Dorothy W.

Edith Wharton and Henry James. The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth have NYC settings, and there's Washington Square and surely other James novels. Jonathan Lethem writes about Brooklyn. The Hours is set in Manhattan. Bonfire of the Vanities -- not a great novel, really, but fun. I read it right before I moved to the Bronx about ten years and ago, and it terrified me out of my mind. I like reading about NYC too!

Dorothy W.

Oooh -- Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers -- about a young girl in the Jewish tenements in the early 20C. Okay, now I'll give other people a chance to answer ...


Dorothy--Thanks for the suggestions! I plan on reading The Age of Innocence soon! Why was I thinking Washington Square was set in Boston? I have never read any Lethem, though it seems I have seen his name around, and I didn't realize that The Hours was set in NY. Aren't you reading The Bread Givers for your book club? It is so nice getting book ideas from people who have read the books! It would be nice to read about somewhere you have actually lived! Now I am curious about Bonfire of the Vanities--that is one of those books I have seen around, but never picked up to look at!

Lazy Cow

Mary Cantwell's Manhattan: When I was young (a memoir) is gorgeous. Also - for something a bit different - From the Mixed up files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. A children's book about 2 kids who run away from home and end up living in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another great one is The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.

Sherry Early

A Severed Wasp by Madeliene L'Engle, set in and the (Episcopal) Cathedral of St. John the DIvine in NYC.


It's so uncanny that you should mention this - I've been meaning to ask the blogworld about a book I bought a while back - a trilogy of novels by Isabel Bolton called 'New York Mosaic'. Apparently she was compared to Henry James and Virginia Woolf when she was first published, 50 years ago, and the blurb promises me 'New York socialites, failed artists and candid children'. I've yet to read one of the novels, and wondered if anyone else had ever heard of her? The books sound good - suppose I ought to just go ahead and read one!


Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel.


Lazy Cow--I have all three of Cantwell's autobiographies and want to read them in order--glad to hear you liked her writing. The other books are all new to me. I especially like the sound of the Konigsburg!
Sherry--Another author I have never read, but should have! I will have to look this one up.
Litlove--I have not heard of this author--she must be good if she has been compared to Woolf and James! I will have to see if my library has her.
Susan--This is a book I have heard of and know was quite popular, but I am bad with NF and tend not to pick them up. I wonder if I can mooch a copy..


Cheryl Mendelson's "Morningside Heights," set in the titular neighborhood (where Columbia University is, north of the Upper West Side)

The memoir "Save Karyn" by Karyn Bosnak takes place in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I can't wait to add these other titles to my To Be Read list -- I love reading about NYC and in fact read the Rona Jaffe book you mentioned earlier this year.


One of my fave "set in NY" books is "Emma Who Saved My Life" by Wilton Barnhardt. It's about the misadventures of three young people who share an apt in NYC in the 70s as they attempt to break into various arts (acting, poetry, etc). A fun, witty read with real heart.

I agree about Enright, Konigsberg and Mendelsohn, as well! And check out the movie of "Best of Everything" if you get a chance. Great fun with fabulous outfits and an over-the-top turn by Joan Crawford as the woman who waited too long to get a man... Heh.


Definitely look into Joseph Mitchell! I discovered him when I saw the movie Joe Gould's Secret (worth seeing), based on one of his stories, which I believe is included in Up in the Old Hotel. These are amazing NY stories, working-class, fish-market stories, gritty and lost characters.

You already mentioned Paul Auster. Don Delillo's Cosmopolis also comes to mind — a day in the life of a bigshot.


oooo! I love the Best of Everything! It is original chicklit!

New York books put me in bind of a Tree Grows in Brooklyn!!!


Ellen--Did you like the Rona Jaffe? I will have to check out the other titles as well! I am always fishing for suggestions and everyone is very generous in sharing favorite reads!
Kitty--I think I may have "Emma Who Saved My Life"--it sounds very familiar (no doubt it is stuck in the back of one of my shelves long forgotten--must go search for it!). I didn't know Bes of Everything was made into a movie--I wonder if Netflix has I will have to definitely add the other titles to my list, since they get second votes!
Isabella--I think I may have to break down and order Up in the Old Hotel--I have looked it up online and it sounds like an excellent read. I have never read Delillo--I need to give him a try (he's on my "must get to" list along with people like Philip Roth, which I hear good things about, but I never seem to read).
Rachel--The Jaffe book had a blurb on it comparing it to Valley of the Dolls--not sure if it is an apt comparison, but I did read I will have to read Jaffe. A Tree Grows n Brooklyn is most definitely worthy of a second read, too!


I went through a New York reading thing after my two visits to the city last year. Here's some suggestions: Breakfast at Tiffanys; Desperate Characters by Paula Fox; The Widow's Children by Paula Fox; Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem; and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.


Kimbofo--thanks for the suggestions. I have only read Breakfast at Tiffanys--but I need to reread it as that was so long ago! I just read an article about Paula Fox and now I want to read more of her books! I also really want to check out the Lethem!

Carl V.

Jack Finney's book Time and Again is a wonderful classic featuring travel into the past of old New York. It is great because it features pictures and descriptions of old New York that factor into the story. It is a very good romance with a small time travel element thrown in. Very good.

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