The best books on the aftermath of 9/11 on people’s everyday lives

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in the US, and particularly lived and worked in New York, for many years. How the events of 9/11 changed the city, its people, and the perceptions of the people all around the country and the world has always intrigued me. 9/11 has put up a prism through which experiences have emanated out in a kaleidoscopic range of stories. A banker by day and a cynical blogger by night, I have traveled the world and have met many interesting people with compelling backgrounds and have experienced many peculiar and beautiful things. I love to explore the confluence of fascinating narrative arcs and life-altering events. 

I wrote...

The Pilgrim: Inferno Redux

By Rohit Prasad,

Book cover of The Pilgrim: Inferno Redux

What is my book about?

Roy Aron goes on a journey, physically and mentally, on the fateful day of 9/11. He descends the bowels of hell, following in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri, as he witnesses the nine sins. He comes upon intriguing sagas showcasing the sins’ corroding powers. The reader accompanies him through the heart of darkness, lives through the transformational incidents, and emerges in the sunshine of hope.

Nine engrossing tales spanning multiple cities, persons, and ages, are woven beautifully together with a common thread, linked to a literary classic, in a fascinating approach. The sins, as well as human character’s redeeming traits, are to be found every day all around us. The narrative fluidly moves between the narrator's own musings and the stories taking the reader along for a rollercoaster ride.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Rohit Prasad Why did I love this book?

The book captures the picture-perfect life of a brown-skinned immigrant who finds it all rose-tinted living it up in New York.

The scales fall after 9/11 when faced with shifting allegiances and overt suspicions. The author slowly builds up a gnawing tension as we wait for the protagonist to teeter over the edge, as the isolation and resentment eats away inside him spiraling into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The book touched me as a person of South Asian descent, having faced unconscious bias. The book delineates the perspective of “the other”, where the unfamiliar is made to feel like a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis.

However, there is more that unites us than divides us - and we can try to change the world one person at a time.

By Mohsin Hamid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reluctant Fundamentalist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE
OVER ONE MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE

The elegant and compelling novel about a Pakistani man’s abandonment of his high-flying life in New York—an extraordinary portrait of a divided and yet ultimately indivisible world in America post-9/11.

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. He begins to tell the story of a man named Changez, who is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He…


Book cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Rohit Prasad Why did I love this book?

A precocious and inquisitive child Oskar goes on a treasure hunt around New York to solve a mystery left behind by his father who had died on 9/11.

In his quest, you see a child seeking to stay close to his father a little while longer. In his streams of consciousness and hyperactive imagination, you feel him trying to fill the void left behind by a supportive father figure.

With the sheer weight of his innocence, he gets strangers to open up to him, let him into their lives, and add to their life stories. In a moving manner, the narrative follows the path that Oskar, his mother and his grandfather take in dealing with trauma and finding closure in their own personal ways.

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

ADAPTED INTO A FEATURE FILM WITH TOM HANKS

From the critically acclaimed author of Here I Am, Everything is Illuminated and We are the Weather - a heartrending and unforgettable novel set in the aftermath of the 9/11

'Utterly engaging, hugely involving, tragic, funny and intensely moving... A heartbreaker' Spectator

'The most incredible fictional nine-year-old ever created... a funny, heart-rending portrayal of a child coping with disaster. It will have you biting back the tears' Glamour

'Pulsates with dazzling ideas' Times Literary Supplement

'It's a miracle... So impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving' Baltimore Sun…


Book cover of The Submission

Rohit Prasad Why did I love this book?

An American Muslim is chosen blindly by a jury to design a memorial to the 9/11 victims, opening it up to vociferous debates and dissensions, much like the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.

The author uses her vast experience as a New York Times journalist to eloquently describe the warps and wefts of the fabric of New York society, and starts tugging at several threads as it all unravels. The players’ tug-of-war is well portrayed in rich texture, while the politicians’ intent on not letting a good crisis go to waste adds satirical color to the expansive tapestry.

As a creator, one feels that art has no religion and has no boundaries. The axiom is severely tested in the face of rabid nationalism, parochial intolerance, and a media free-for-all.

By Amy Waldman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Submission as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner's name - and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam.

The memorial's designer is Mohammad Khan, an enigmatic, ambitious architect. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, Claire finds herself under pressure…


Book cover of Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Rohit Prasad Why did I love this book?

Although the book falls under the Juvenile Literature section, it is equally suitable for adults for its poignant handling of how four children’s lives were immutably changed by 9/11. 

The portrayal of the middle-schoolers basking in the glory of their ‘wonder years’ in the hours leading up to the terrible day is fleshed out beautifully. The calamitous events mark the end of innocence for them. What they, and the reader, get coming out of it are learnings about bravery, community, belonging, destiny, faith, and tolerance.

Their diverse threads intersect in the end as they come together as apprehensive, but proud, Americans marking the end of an era and hoping for a more perfect union.

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nine, Ten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a "tense...and thought-provoking" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day-until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he…


Book cover of The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

Rohit Prasad Why did I love this book?

This is the sole non-fiction recommendation on the list. However, with its message of hope and optimism, it seems like a fairy tale in these days of partisanship and hatred.

The book details how the small city of Gander in Canada rallied around to provide safe haven to the passengers of 38 airplanes which had been bound for the US on 9/11. The stranded travelers are greeted by a welcoming community, build lifelong friendships, and find solace and peace in a time of grave uncertainty.

The description of the small acts of kindness which positively impacted the lives of strangers and fostered a feeling of worldly brotherhood is heartwarming and uplifting. It also showcases how the world came together for America in its hour of need.

By Jim DeFede,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Day the World Came to Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The True Story Behind the Events on 9/11 that Inspired Broadway's Smash Hit Musical Come from Away, Featuring All New Material from the Author

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill.

As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly…


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Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Lap Baby

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A story you'll never forget about survival, forgiveness, healing, and love.

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors are inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause. 

Julie Geiger, a flight attendant, told five sets of parents to place their babies on the floor of the plane when it was going down. Now, she must live with the consequences. Will changing the emergency rules bring her healing and forgiveness? And where does love fit into her life now?

Marie Stanley lost her baby boy on that flight. And she knows exactly who to blame. Julie. The problem is that vindictiveness festers. And eats into your soul. How will Marie learn to move past her hate and save her marriage in the process?

Paige Montgomery, the lap baby who survived the flight, would love to forget it ever happened. After all, she’s happy. And she’s on the cusp of a new relationship. How will she learn to forge her own path, one that integrates all the elements of her past, including the crash, the loss of her parents, and her subsequent adoption?

Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause.

Did you know that lap babies (children under the age of two) are instructed to be placed on the floor of a plane during an emergency? Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Julie Geiger, a flight attendant, told five sets of parents to do just that. Now she must live with the consequences. Will changing the rules bring her healing and forgiveness? And where does love fit into her life now?

Marie Stanley lost her baby boy on that flight. And she knows exactly…


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Interested in September 11th, racism and discrimination, and New York State?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about September 11th, racism and discrimination, and New York State.

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