82 books like New York

By Jack Lait, Lee Mortimer,

Here are 82 books that New York fans have personally recommended if you like New York. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Night Walks

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

Dickens wrote this essay, which is one of his very best pieces of non-fictional writing, at a period when he was undergoing something of a crisis, largely because of the breakdown of his marriage. It describes a walk he took at night through the streets of London, though in fact it is probably a composite of many nocturnal strolls he took in the late 1850s. Although the piece is sharpened with Dickens’s characteristic spirit of satire, it is remarkable for the sympathetic warmth with which it sketches those who, in contrast to Dickens himself, have no choice but to inhabit the city at night – the lost, the lonely, the homeless. Movingly, he finds a sense of community in these isolated individuals who live on the margins of society.

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Night Walks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charles Dickens describes in Night Walks his time as an insomniac, when he decided to cure himself by walking through London in the small hours, and discovered homelessness, drunkenness and vice on the streets. This collection of essays shows Dickens as one of the greatest visionaries of the city in all its variety and cruelty.

GREAT IDEAS. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them.…


Book cover of New York Nocturne: The City After Dark in Literature, Painting, and Photography, 1850-1950

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

This richly illustrated account of the century in which Manhattan was the preeminent metropolitan city at night is written by a scholar I admire enormously, who has become a friend since I first read this book. Sharpe has an encyclopedic knowledge of the art and literature of the modern city, and New York Nocturne is in consequence a treasure trove of cultural-historical information. But it is also beautifully written. It reads not only the paintings, photographs, poems, and novels about New York with sensitivity and insight, but the sometimes glamorous, sometimes painfully arduous lives of those who lived in it. 

By William Chapman Sharpe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New York Nocturne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As early as the 1850s, gaslight tempted New Yorkers out into a burgeoning nightlife filled with shopping, dining, and dancing. Electricity later turned the city at night into an even more stunning spectacle of brilliantly lit streets and glittering skyscrapers. The advent of artificial lighting revolutionized the urban night, creating not only new forms of life and leisure, but also new ways of perceiving the nocturnal experience. New York Nocturne is the first book to examine how the art of the gaslit and electrified city evolved, and how representations of nighttime New York expanded the boundaries of modern painting, literature,…


Book cover of Trivia, Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

This brilliantly funny poem, written in heroic couplets, is a satirical celebration of the teeming streets of London in the early eighteenth century, when this imperial city’s pretensions to order were constantly threatened by the chaos of an expanding, and highly mobile, population. It is an instruction manual for survival – "Through Winter Streets to steer your course aright, / How to walk clean by Day, and safe by Night" – but also a colourful cityscape comparable to the paintings produced by William Hogarth at roughly the same time. It offers a highly atmospheric description of London at night in one of its sections. 

By John Gay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trivia, Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of The Last London: True Fictions from an Unreal City

Matthew Beaumont Author Of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

From my list on the city at night.

Who am I?

I first started walking in cities at night in my late teens – mainly London but also the Italian cities I travelled through alone when I went interrailing after leaving school. I discovered that cities have a quite different character at night, and that you cannot know the streets of one intimately if you don’t explore it – safely! – after dark. In my professional career as a scholar and lecturer, I have for decades almost unconsciously been drawn to those writers who themselves discovered, to their horror or delight, that the city at night is a foreign country. The books I’ve listed, fictional or non-fictional, are postcards from this foreign land. 

Matthew's book list on the city at night

Matthew Beaumont Why did Matthew love this book?

Iain Sinclair is London’s finest London poet, even though he hasn’t published poetry for decades, and The Last London is his elegy to a lost London – a London that is being buried beneath the concrete, glass, and steel of private housing developments. As ever, Sinclair conducts his archaeological excursions into the city and its forgotten precincts by tramping its streets relentlessly – in this book, principally after dark. He records his observations and reconstructs his encounters with others in a hypnotic, poetic prose. Here is a city fading into the night because it is erasing its history… 

By Iain Sinclair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New Statesman Book of the Year

London. A city apart. Inimitable. Or so it once seemed.

Spiralling from the outer limits of the Overground to the pinnacle of the Shard, Iain Sinclair encounters a metropolis stretched beyond recognition. The vestiges of secret tunnels, the ghosts of saints and lost poets lie buried by developments, the cycling revolution and Brexit. An electrifying final odyssey, The Last London is an unforgettable vision of the Big Smoke before it disappears into the air of memory.


Book cover of Murder in Manhattan

Vickie Carroll Author Of It's Only Murder

From my list on cozy mysteries about women at work.

Who am I?

As a cozy-style mystery writer, I get to live in a world where I know that everything will work out as it should in the end. I look for this in the books that I read and recommend. Do they give the reader something interesting to ponder as they go along with the sleuth (amateur or “real detective)? My father was a police captain, and I grew up looking at things through the eyes of “the law”, I admit. Most people find comfort reading about a small town where nothing will go too wrong. The bad stuff and the bad people are kept at arm’s length, and all is well.

Vickie's book list on cozy mysteries about women at work

Vickie Carroll Why did Vickie love this book?

I was late coming to this author, but once I discovered her I knew I’d go back to her earlier books in the Lady Eleanor Swift series.

In this book, Lady Swift leaves England to see what Manhattan is all about. With her butler, Clifford, (and her dog Gladstone) in tow, she is soon ensconced in a high-end apartment and is giving and attending all of the parties with the rich and famous. But her society status is put on hold when she witnesses the doorman of her building killed in a hit and run.

This is soon followed by another murder connected to the doorman. She, of course, gets involved and is determined to right the wrong. The book is a perfect bit of escapism, written with humor. 

By Verity Bright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder in Manhattan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Glitzy parties, sightseeing at the Statue of Liberty and strolls through Central Park with Gladstone the bulldog… Lady Eleanor Swift is loving her first trip to the city that never sleeps, until she witnesses a murder!

After crossing from England on the SS Celestiana, Lady Eleanor Swift sets up her home-away-from-home in a lavish apartment in New York City. She is soon the toast of the town, with no high-class soirée complete without her presence. Of course, she drags her butler Clifford and Gladstone the bulldog along to every party too.

But when she witnesses the charming doorman of her…


Book cover of Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York

John Dalton Author Of Heaven Lake

From my list on that take you on extraordinary journeys.

Who am I?

I am the author of two novels, and I currently teach fiction writing in the MFA program at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I’ve long been fascinated with journeys both real and literary. In the early 1990’s I lived in Taiwan and traveled across China—from Guangzhou to the far northwestern desert province of Xinjiang, an extraordinary journey that informed my first novel. 

John's book list on that take you on extraordinary journeys

John Dalton Why did John love this book?

It’s 1764 on Manhattan Island, and a stranger from London arrives at a small town called New York. He expects to receive a thousand pounds. A cast of dynamic characters appear. There are intrigues and adventures. All writers try to be vibrant on the page—to write smart, vivid, witty descriptions and dialogue. And then you come upon a writer like Francis Spufford, who is able, somehow, do it a degree or two better than everyone else.   

By Francis Spufford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Golden Hill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Best book of the century' Richard Osman
'Just wonderful' Jan Morris
'Dazzlingly written' Sunday Times
'Every bit as superb as everyone says' Sarah Perry

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2016
Winner of the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017
Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2017
Shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017
Shortlisted for the British Book Awards Debut Novel of the Year 2017

A SUNDAY TIMES TOP 100 NOVEL OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

New York, a small town…


Book cover of The Lies That Bind

Jacqueline Friedland Author Of That's Not a Thing

From my list on contemporary romance set in Manhattan.

Who am I?

As someone who’s been born and raised in and around the suburbs of Manhattan, I have a love-hate relationship with the city. I crave the excitement it offers but then gets frustrated by its drawbacks- the crowds, the dirt, the noise, the expense, the pressure. But then you crack open the pages of a romance story, and the allure of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs is undeniable. Anything is possible in New York City.

Jacqueline's book list on contemporary romance set in Manhattan

Jacqueline Friedland Why did Jacqueline love this book?

The night before September 11, 2001, I was in New York City, and my now-husband proposed to me. We woke up the next morning to a whole new world. Any book set in Manhattan that relates to September 11th instantly speaks to me. This romance story is one you will never see coming, and I can’t recommend it more highly.

By Emily Giffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lies That Bind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this irresistible novel from the author of All We Ever Wanted and Something Borrowed, a young woman falls hard for an impossibly perfect man before he disappears without a trace. . . . 

It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city—and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with…


Book cover of The Impossible Girl

Rob Bauer Author Of Theodora

From my list on historical fiction featuring women who aren’t queens.

Who am I?

I have a PhD in history and used to be a college professor. I decided to write historical fiction novels so that I could reach a larger audience than college students and share incredible stories from history with more people. The reason I created this list of books about women is because the farther back in history we look, the more invisible women seem to become. That’s why I wanted to tell Theodora’s story—it’s an amazing tale, first, but it also allowed me to share how different conditions were for women in the past. The other books I’ve recommended do the same.

Rob's book list on historical fiction featuring women who aren’t queens

Rob Bauer Why did Rob love this book?

I loved the originality of The Impossible Girl. Cora Lee is a resurrectionist—she steals bodies from cemeteries for medical dissection in 1850s New York City. This isn’t really a sympathetic activity, however. Would you love a grave robber? So, to add flavor, bodies with unusual physical traits bring in extra money, and Cora specializes in stealing these.

But she’s got a unique malady of her own—she has two hearts. And people want to kill her to cash in on her body. Now we have a reason to cheer for her.

The story has many twists as Cora learns who she can (and can’t) trust. Add to that some romance, the vibrant setting of 1850s New York City, and some twisted characters, and this is a fun book.

By Lydia Kang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Impossible Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two hearts. Twice as vulnerable.

Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich just as easily as she can slip unnoticed into the slums and graveyards of the city. As the only female resurrectionist in New York, she's carved out a niche procuring bodies afflicted with the strangest of anomalies. Anatomists will pay exorbitant sums for such specimens-dissecting and displaying them for the eager public.

Cora's specialty is not only profitable, it's a means to keep a finger on the pulse of those searching for her. She's…


Book cover of Open City

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Who am I?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

By most accounts, immigrant literature deals primarily with how immigrants struggle to adapt to their adopted countries.

Its readers have come to expect stories of identity formation, of how immigrants create ethnic communities and maintain ties to countries of origin. Yet such narratives can center exceptional stories of individual success or obscure the political forces that uproot millions of people the world over.

This novel simulates the intimacy of immigrant memoir by seemingly giving readers access to his narrator’s interiority; it seems to cater to readerly expectation. And yet this is ultimately a ruse to obtain readerly investment, which Cole then redirects to the global history of forced migration and dispossession.

I love the combination of erudition and subtlety in a novel that, while ranging across three continents, allows readers to think simultaneously about dislocation across history and in our contemporary world.

By Teju Cole,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Open City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut novel from a writer heralded as the twenty-first-century W. G. Sebald.

A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss and surrender, Open City follows a young Nigerian doctor as he wanders aimlessly along the streets of Manhattan. For Julius the walks are a release from the tight regulations of work, from the emotional fallout of a failed relationship, from lives past and present on either side of the Atlantic.

Isolated amid crowds of bustling strangers, Julius criss-crosses not just physical landscapes but social boundaries too, encountering people whose otherness sheds light on his own remarkable journey…


Book cover of Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize

Jiordan Castle Author Of Disappearing Act: A True Story

From my list on resilience for young adults and adults.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in stories about becoming. Whether it’s a coming-of-age story, a story about overcoming adversity, or a story about discovery or recovery, I find that the best books about becoming also tend to be books about resilience. For me, the lure of a book is often more about its themes and perspective than it is about where it’s categorized and shelved. Having written a memoir in verse for an upper young adult reading group, this is especially true of my experience as an author. Each of the books on this list has something profound and singular to offer young adult readers and adult readers alike.

Jiordan's book list on resilience for young adults and adults

Jiordan Castle Why did Jiordan love this book?

It’s impossible not to root for Lucy Clark. Shipped by negligent parents to a boarding school where every semblance of comfort is taken from her, and then brutally banished to NYC after a terrible accident, Lucy finds herself trying to solve a murder mystery.

The target is an elderly woman who has been grossly underestimated, much like Lucy herself. With a keen best friend, ageism-defying twists, and the rich refuge of plants and desserts, this book is a must-read for anyone who’s ever found themselves at the bottom, looking for a way back up.

By Margo Rabb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize 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 delightfully offbeat mystery that is also about the mystery of becoming yourself." -Rebecca Stead, New York Times bestselling author

In this witty and whimsical story by award-winning author Margo Rabb, a sixteen-year-old girl is suspended from boarding school and sent to New York City, where she must take care of an unconventional woman entangled in a mystery.

Lucy Clark has had it. After being bullied one too many times, Lucy retaliates. But when the fallout is far worse than she meant it to be, she gets sent to Manhattan to serve as a full-time companion to the eccentric Edith…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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