92 books like New York Nocturne

By William Chapman Sharpe,

Here are 92 books that New York Nocturne fans have personally recommended if you like New York Nocturne. 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: Confidential!

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?

The cover is what I most love about this book, which I picked up in a second-hand bookshop. In my edition, “The Big City After Dark" is emblazoned in large yellow letters across the top. Beneath it, there’s a deliciously louche illustration of two people standing against the backdrop of Manhattan at night. One is a man in a trilby hat and a cheap brown suit. The other is a blonde woman in cinched black dress and pearls, twirling her pearl necklace and looking alluring. Both appear to know a thing or two about New York’s seediest hangouts. This is a gripping noir guidebook to the twentieth century’s most exciting nighttime city, written as if it’s pulp fiction. 

By Jack Lait, Lee Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback


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 This Beautiful Life

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg Author Of The Nine

From my list on campus novels for the 21st century.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of two novels, the most recent of which, The Nine, is set on a fictional New England boarding school campus. Although a secret society’s antics and a scandal on campus keeps readers turning the page, at the heart of the novel is the evolution of a mother-son relationship. Even before my three children began considering boarding schools, I was a fan of the campus novel. Think classics like A Separate Peace or Catcher in the Rye. My fascination surrounding these little microcosms—their ideals, how they self-govern, who holds power—only increased after experiencing their weird and wily ways as a mother. 

Jeanne's book list on campus novels for the 21st century

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg Why did Jeanne love this book?

A painful examination of all that’s at stake when kids make bad decisions, This Beautiful Life made me reflect on the pressure contemporary kids feel to be beyond reproach while growing up amid the instant connectivity and permanent consequences of the internet age. Like Testimony, Schulman’s novel begins with a video, this time one whose ramifications are amplified and complicated as it goes viral in a matter of hours.

A gripping early scene dramatizes the split second when fifteen-year-old Jake Bergamot makes the fateful choice to forward a video he’s received to a friend. The scandal that ensues threatens not only Jake, but his entire family’s “beautiful life.” Rather than a boarding school, this novel is set at an elite Manhattan private school where the social strata among parents are even more painfully felt. As the story unfolds, this book takes readers even deeper into the mom’s head—a delightful place…

By Helen Schulman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Beautiful Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"ThisBeautiful Life is a gripping, potent and blisteringly well-written story offamily, dilemma, and consequence. . . . I read this book with white-knuckledurgency, and I finished it in tears. Helen Schulman is an absolutely brilliantnovelist." —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
 

Theevents of a single night shatter one family’s sense of security and identity inthis provocative and deeply affecting domestic drama from Helen Schulman, theacclaimed author of A Day at the Beach and Out of Time. In thetradition of Lionel Shriver, Sue Miller, and Laura Moriarty, Schulman crafts abrilliantly observed portrait of parenting and modern life, cunningly exploringour most…


Book cover of The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984

Thomas Dyja Author Of New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess, and Transformation

From my list on how New York became New York.

Who am I?

It took eight years to write New York, New York, New York, and reading hundreds and hundreds of books about all different aspects of New York past and present. There were lots of brilliant ones along the way, but these five changed how I think about New York, flipped assumptions, created entirely new maps and narratives.

Thomas' book list on how New York became New York

Thomas Dyja Why did Thomas love this book?

This is the primer for everything Downtown during arguably Downtown’s greatest era. The contributions are first-rate, by people who were on the scene, and it’s a handsome book to hold. If you’re interested in anything from Punk and Patti Smith to Haring, Basquiat, and Afrika Bambaataa, this is the place to start, without nostalgia, agenda, or hype.

By Marvin J. Taylor (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Downtown is more than just a location, it's an attitude--and in the 1970s and '80s, that attitude forever changed the face of America. This book charts the intricate web of influences that shaped the generation of experimental and outsider artists working in Downtown New York during the crucial decade from 1974 to 1984. Published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of downtown art (organized by New York University's Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library), The Downtown Book brings the Downtown art scene to life, exploring everything from Punk rock to performance art. The book probes trends that arose in…


Book cover of Manhattan, When I Was Young

Amanda Schuster Author Of Signature Cocktails

From my list on making it there from anywhere in New York City.

Who am I?

As a lifelong New Yorker and author of two books about drinking in the city—New York Cocktails and Drink Like a Local New York—these are the books about bygone days of city living that I would tell you to read if we met in a bar. You already know the ones by E.B. White, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, or possibly Pete Hamill or Walt Winchell. Those books are fantastic, but these are some “deep cuts” New York City appreciation books that you should also get to know.  

Amanda's book list on making it there from anywhere in New York City

Amanda Schuster Why did Amanda love this book?

The book is an engaging memoir about what it was like in the 1950s for a single woman just out of college to balance life and relationships while starting a career in magazine publishing in the Big Apple and follows her career and family relationships through to the 1970s.

Though things like finding an apartment in a trendy neighborhood back then were significantly easier than they are in modern day, the hilarious accounts about the challenges of adapting to small living conditions still ring true.

It’s an entertaining glimpse into the golden age of the print magazine industry, but it’s also a brutally honest account of women’s mental health issues, and what it’s like to seemingly have it all but still feel the constraints imposed by choosing to live in NYC. Any aspiring writer should read this book. 

By Mary Cantwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Manhattan, When I Was Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mary Cantwell arrived in Manhattan one summer in the early 1950s with $80, a portable typewriter, a wardrobe of unsuitable clothes, a copy of The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a boyfriend she was worried might be involved with the Communists and no idea how to live on her own. She moved to the Village because she had heard of it and worked at Mademoiselle because that was where the employment agency sent her.

In this evocative unflinching book Cantwell recalls the city she knew then by revisiting five apartments in which she lived. Her memoir vividly recreates both a…


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 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 Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

Christiane Bird Author Of A Block in Time: A New York City History at the Corner of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-Third Street

From my list on New York City by women writers.

Who am I?

I moved to New York City right after college, hungry to escape from the homogeneity of a small New England town. I wanted nothing more than to be surrounded by people of all races and nations, languages, and walks of life, and to have easy access to some of the greatest cultural institutions of the world. New York can be hard and unforgiving, but there is no place like it. I love living here.

Christiane's book list on New York City by women writers

Christiane Bird Why did Christiane love this book?

Another classic—albeit of a far different type—Lucy Sante uncovers the underbelly of 19th- and early 20th-century New York, a world filled with pimps, madams, gamblers, con men, and crooked cops. But this book is more than just a collection of stories about colorful characters. It’s also a meditation on the city’s secrets and the allure of danger and darkness. I dealt with some of the same themes in my own book and had no better model to emulate than this groundbreaking work.

By Luc Sante,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lucy Sante's Low Life is a portrait of America's greatest city, the riotous and anarchic breeding ground of modernity.

This is not the familiar saga of mansions, avenues, and robber barons, but the messy, turbulent, often murderous story of the city's slums; the teeming streets--scene of innumerable cons and crimes whose cramped and overcrowded housing is still a prominent feature of the cityscape.

Low Life voyages through Manhattan from four different directions. Part One examines the actual topography of Manhattan from 1840 to 1919; Part Two, the era's opportunities for vice and entertainment--theaters and saloons, opium and cocaine dens, gambling…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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