Hello everyone! It’s that time of the week again! Top Ten Tuesday is a book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Basically, you get a different bookish topic every Tuesday, and you comprise a list of ten (or however many you’re able to list) relating to said topic.
This week’s topic is “Ten books with X setting.” Since I live in New York City and am moving to Manhattan in a couple of weeks before my junior year starts, I thought I’d comprise a list of some of my favorite books set here, as well as some books that I really, really want to read. New York City is so diverse- people of all colors, faiths, ethnicities go about their day as one, cohesive ‘squad’ of sorts. From the vendors on the streets to the eclectic cuisine in both Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. From people who wear palm leaves on the subway (I’ve seen this, I promise) to people who wear nothing at all (I have also seen this), this city is strange and wonderful.
Books I’ve Read
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is the only required-reading book I’ve ever read that I actually enjoyed. The Great Gatsby was my first classic back when I read it in ninth grade, and I immediately fell in love with it. It was also my first exposure to New York City (granted, historical New York City) in literature-form, since I didn’t read much back then. But while I didn’t fully grasp the thematic, historical importance of the book when I first read it, I’ve grown to have a grudgingly strong admiration for Fitzgerald, his voice, his characters and his work.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This may be cheating since a huge chunk of this book (and the worst chunk of it) is set in Las Vegas. But I read the Goldfinch when I had just moved to the city, and the atmosphere Tartt set was so authentic that it really helped me make my way as a newcomer. That sounds a little strange, mainly because the book is not meant to be helpful. But simply knowing little details about the Upper East Side and the East Village, how things work, what the people are like – it all helped me fit in.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
This is a funny sad book, which are some of my favorite books. Again, this is mostly set in a psychiatric facility rather than the city, but our main character is someone who was born and raised in upper Manhattan, I believe. People who have grown up in this bustling area have always fascinated me, so it was interesting to see his connection with the city, his quirk of forming maps in his head, his experiences as a native New Yorker.
The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Honestly, both the Diviners and its sequel, Lair of Dreams offer up such a glaringly contrasting viewpoint of New York. Again, it’s set in the 1920s and the New York back then is so different from what it is now. At present, like I said, NYC is so diverse and eclectic. New Yorkers are quick and rude, but they are also cultured and so welcoming of new cultures and new ideas. Libba Bray’s New York is a city completely unknown to me, full of prejudice, racism and darkness. And it’s not a fictional New York, because this is what it used to be like. And while prejudice and racism are obviously very much a problem, it’s still interesting to see how far this city has come, and how far it still needs to go.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
I’m actually incredibly proud of myself for having read this book. When I started it, it was extremely slow and Chabon’s writing style was so dense that I almost abandoned it. But I’m glad I stuck with it because it’s a book I recommend to everyone. It’s set in NYC in the 1940s, with the backdrop of the second World War raging in the background. Comic book artists, tragedy, friendship, love and loss- there’s so much to love in this book.
Books on my TBR
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
“Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and works on Wall Street; he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to a head-on collision with America’s greatest dream – and its worst nightmare – “American Psycho” is a bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to confront.”
Murderers, dark humor, and New York City? Sign me up. Also, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Is that unusual?
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
“From the funked-up, messed-up Brookyn of the 1970s to the present day, this stunning novel spans thirty years in the life of two best friends, Dylan and Mingus, their families and an entire neighbourhood. From their stories comes the history of soul music, of graffiti art, of comic books, of experimental film and ‘rock writing’. With a cast of more than a hundred characters and more than fifty speaking parts, this is a touching and intimate novel on an epic scale.”
“A hundred characters … fifty speaking parts.” Yikes, I’m drawn to it just for the sheer magnitude of this book. I’m also a sucker for bromances, so why not. Also, can you tell that I’m being drawn to an increasing number of adult/literary fiction?
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
“Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.”
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.
The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee
Welcome to Manhattan, 2118. A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose. Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched. Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart. Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one? Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies. And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.