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5 New York City Novels You Should Read

“New York was his town and it always would be…”  I’ve always wanted to read that fictional novel by Isac Davis (Manhattan, Woody Allen, 1979), because you know what I can’t get enough of?  Talking and thinking about New York City.  Now’s the season (when it’s not blindingly hot and muggy, that is) to go to your local library, grab a novel, park it in the park for the afternoon, and pat yourself on the back for living in one of if not THE best city in the U.S.

All of these are fairly obvious, but my intention is for this to be a total beginner’s guide..at least based on books that I’ve actually read:

1) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Truth be told, I did have to put this book down at least once and decide if I had the stomach to continue reading.  Long story short: definitely worth it.  Probably one of the most strangely engrossing (yet repuslive!) and clever satires ever.  Or at least I think it is….Ellis has GOT to be at least a little insane to write this, right?

2) Fortess of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

Pretty fucking epic and totally essential if you ever or currently live in Brooklyn and/or enjoy the art of graffito.

3) The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

OK, so it’s depressing, but I have a total boner for the Gilded Age– both its highs and dark underbelly.

4) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Yes, yes, this is the book that everyone and their mother says to read, especially if you’re in any way into comic books.  Though it’s now become a cliche novel type, when I first read it, I found it to be pretty original and thoroughly engaging from start to finish.

5) Washington Square by Henry James

Even if you’re kinda bored with this dame who’s caught up in her forbidden genital rubbing white girl problems, at the very least, it’s pretty cool and funny to read about the areas James calls out/name checks.

* Bonus non-novel: Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
Truly one of the fastest and most pleasurable reads for being such a gigantic monster of a book.  It’s such an incredibly rich collection of primary sources, it will make your head fucking spin.  ESPECIALLY if you care about music or New York in any way.

Also, guys, speaking of historical non-fiction-y stuff about NYC nightlife, I’ve been trying to find this book that I THINK is Alice Echols’ Disco and the Remaking of American Culture, but I’m not sure if that’s the one I want/am thinking of.  Anyone have any ideas or other recommendations?

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About the author

Anna G - Caliburg Contributor

Anna G. is a Southern California native living in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn since 2005. Anna is constantly trying to unite her love of CA sunshine and the excitement of the New York urban jungle, all the while trying to keep her unwieldy credit card debt under control, and look fabulous at brunch, no matter how un-showered and hungover.
  • Pierce

    I’m noticing distinct lack of “Bright Lights, Big City”.

  • Anna G – Caliburg Contributor

    I’ve never read that one! I’ve only seen the Michael J. Fox movie.

  • http://www.burghcast.com alex

    Paul Auster’s New York trilogy
    Salinger
    Watchmen
    The Amazing Spider-Man

    Steroid Nation (for the Yankees)

  • http://brokeassstuart.com Broke-Ass Stuart – Editor In Cheap

    Good list. I LOVED Fortress of Solitude, and I never saw that version of the cover. Cool!

  • http://www.kidslikecoloringpages.com/category/spiderman Spiderman Coloring Pages

    American Psycho is a great book, good call