Latest posts by John English (see all)
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New York is a city like no other. Let it grab hold of you and it can be difficult ever leaving. For instance, the city boasts a rich literary tradition with many authors making it the main setting or digging into its colorful history. For those who dream of making it home these books capture that feeling of what the city is about.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
Salinger’s controversial novel may not say too much about New York but it’s fun to retrace Holden’s path. To begin with, he starts with an unsuccessful time at a Greenwich Village nightclub. Later on, he stops at Grand Central Station and then goes ice-skating at Rockefeller Center. After that, he sees a Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. Along the way, he thinks a lot about the ducks in the lagoon at Central Park.
Capote beautifully captures the glamor of New York through the eyes of Holly Golightly. When she’s not Spending her mornings at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue she’s socializing with wealthy men who wine and dine her at the cities most established clubs and restaurants. It’s a fascinating character study and gives a glimpse of the luxurious lifestyle of the Upper East Side.
For a trip back in time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a must read for those new to the city. This coming-of-age story follows Francie Nolan, a Williamsburg resident, from the age of 11 until she leaves for college. Through her perspective, we see life in an impoverished first-generation immigrant family as they struggle to make ends meet.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning biography takes us into the life and accomplishments of Robert Moses. Giving us an insight into New York power politics and the stories behind some of its iconic construction projects. It’s a great way to build an appreciation for the beautiful parks Moses created and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
This love-letter to the city captures the unique feeling of New York and shows what it means to live there. White begins with the paradox of the noisiness and loneliness of living there. Saying that the city has the ability to give “the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy” once you travel there and experience it with the locals. It’s a great introduction for those visiting for the first time.
Do you like a history lesson sprinkled with fictional accouterments? Rutherfurd’s novel chronicles the cities 400 years history and takes you from the arrival of the first European colonists in the 17th century up until when the book was published in 2009. The cities colorful history is told through a series of fictional families that embody the qualities of a family living at that time.