Here you can find a number of well-known writers offering book recommendations in tribute to New York, and the literature the city has inspired. Jay McInerney, author of the cult novel Bright Lights, Big City, chooses his best New York novels, as does the British novelist, Hermione Hoby, who moved to the city in her twenties. None of their choices overlap, but both of them in their choices stress the intimacy between the lived-in city and its literary and artistic heritage.
Fran Lebowitz, city legend and social commentator, chooses her favourite New York writers, all people who came there for the freedom “to pursue their interests and live the lives they wanted to.” Ben Greenman, writer at the New Yorker magazine chooses his best books on New York City, including books on the city’s fashions and how it was built, as well as a general guide to the city and works on its culture and history.
Several experts have selected books about the attacks on 9/11 in New York.
The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America
by Russell Shorto
New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan
by Jill Lepore
Slavery in New York
by Ira Berlin & Leslie Harris (editors)
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940
by George Chauncey
New York and Los Angeles
by David Halle (editor)
Like several of the great cities of the world, New York’s openness to people born elsewhere and relative tolerance lay at the foundation of its success, though darker episodes in the city’s 400-year history also need attention. Historian Louise Mirrer, President of the New-York Historical Society, recommends books that are essential to understanding the essence of the Big Apple.
The writer and journalist Hermione Hoby’s highly acclaimed first novel is set during a New York heatwave. Here she picks five books inspired by this capacious, overstated, indomitable city and discusses how it shaped her as a writer.
The author of Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney, tells us what changed after 9/11 and which books best capture the ambition, romance and creativity of New York. He chooses his list of “essential New York novels”
‘The authors of these five books are people who came to New York for freedom – not so they could get rich, but so they could be free to pursue their interests and live their lives the way they wanted.’ New Yorker par excellence Fran Lebowitz recommends the writers who best capture her immutably mutable city.
The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman selects books that get closer to the heart and history of the city. Street interviews, personal reflections and political struggles reveal NYC’s vibrant but troubled past.
It was a golden age for American culture, a flourishing of Black literature, music and the arts that exploded in the 1910s and lasted through to the Great Depression. It was focused on Harlem, the area of New York City above Central Park, but its origins and its impact were much, much broader. William J. Maxwell, Professor of English and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, recommends some of the best books on the Harlem Renaissance.