While I’ve personally never been in the presence of the bright lights, big personality brilliance of New York, it’s a place that has always struck me as being one where dreams come true, and adventure is always ready to be grabbed. If you are a lover of the Big Apple, or just want to experience its vitality through books, check out the one’s listed below!
1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Wharton’s classic takes place in 19th century New York and paints the state as one where those in the Upper East Side seem to have two faces: one for public life, full of manners and polite waves, and one underneath in which the reality of people’s characters and morals come into question.
2. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
3. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is truly a novel before its time, as too many recent race hate crimes have shown. The main character is a black man who, due to the color of his skin, is seen as simply being invisible. If that doesn’t speak volumes, I’m not sure what does.
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Why, ol’ sport! Of course Fitzgerald’s classic swag novel could not be ignored when it takes place in the hustle and bustle of New York in 1922. I’m not one for annoyingly advertising books or forcing anyone to read anything they don’t enjoy, though this story is one I highly recommend. I read it during junior year of high school and it’s probably the only book, other than As I Lay Dying, that I found interesting academically. To bring Jay Gatsby even more to life, check out the most recent movie!
5. Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York by Luc Sante
Many of the books mentioned on this list explore life of the rich and luxurious in upper New York, though Low Life captures the essence of, you guessed it: lower life in New York. It takes place around the same time period as some of the others, mid-19th century to early 20th century, and also includes quite a lot of politics and the messiness of them.
6. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin G. Burrows
If you are truly in love with the monumental city, or just want to be a little more educated on its history and background, Gotham: A History of New York to 1898 would be a good one for you to pick up. Although I wish it covered years leading up to at least the 1990’s, the fascinating details and rich history of this book is a great one to invest in and learn something new from.
7. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
If there was ever a novel that exquisitely captured the allure and fast-paced spirit New York has, it’s Bright Lights, Big City! The novel, originally published in 1984, follows a young man who loves to live his life to the fullest, exploring all the fashions, nightclubs, and every indulgence you can think of. However, when the rush eventually dies down, he’s faced with a harsh reality: who is he really?
Have you taken any trips to the lovely city? What’s one of your favorite sites to see there?
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Featured image via New York Mag