The best books about Brooklyn

16 authors have picked their favorite books about Brooklyn and why they recommend each book.

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Another Brooklyn

By Jacqueline Woodson,

Book cover of Another Brooklyn

This book was a powerful reminder of how capable our younger selves are and how much wiser, at times, than the adults around us. The poetic prose quality had me hooked and the wistful truth that some of our most defining friendship bonds are temporary. Evoked in lucid, beautiful sentences the vital, essential connections between August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi usher the group through adolescent challenges in a tough neighbourhood. On the streets of Brooklyn in all seasons the young teenagers rely on each other as they hone their skills to negotiate life’s harsh realities away from their parents’ gaze. It’s a process that turns out better for some than others but they carry a part of each other wherever life takes them. 


Who am I?

I’d thought I was writing a novel about someone putting a life back together after everything fell apart but, when I’d finished, readers told me I’d written a book about vivid, authentic friendships. It was a welcome surprise. From Charles Dickens to Sylvia Plath, nuanced characters have always interested me and so, when writing, I set myself the task of believable dialogue and interactions which readers can relate to like it’s their own friends sitting around a table; laughing, crying, or bickering. When a life falls apart it’s often friendships that are tested to breaking but then become stronger as a result.


I wrote...

Keep Walking, Rhona Beech

By Kate Tough,

Book cover of Keep Walking, Rhona Beech

What is my book about?

Rhona’s candid, messy journey will make you laugh, cry and remember. Not a typical break-up book, it's much more profound. Rhona has been casually swapping one job for another while comfy in a long relationship, until it ends abruptly and her efforts to adapt to that change are thrown by unwelcome news... 

This beautifully written, pacey satire about female friendship, heartbreak, career change, conceiving and illness will appeal to fans of Fleabag. Join Rhona on a laugh (and cry) out loud search for meaning amongst the bars, offices, and clinics of Scotland. Will her friendships survive the challenges? Will she survive? At once funny and tender, Keep Walking, Rhona Beech is a clear-sighted look at a generation that was told they could have it all.

When No One Is Watching

By Alyssa Cole,

Book cover of When No One Is Watching: A Thriller

The best thing about When No One is Watching is the tension doesn't let go until the end. The protagonist Sydney Green is Brooklyn-born and trying to save her neighborhood from gentrification. But it isn't long before she's discovering a few too many coincidences that might just add up to a conspiracy. The more Sydney and her neighbor, Theo, learn about the communities past, the more their lives are in danger. Just remind yourself to breathe while reading this.


Who am I?

Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards, and National Reader’s Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.


I wrote...

A Case for the Cookie Baker

By Candace Havens,

Book cover of A Case for the Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Ainsley McGregor and the entire town of Sweet River, Texas, are preparing for the annual summer celebration. And thanks to the extra tourist traffic, Ainsley’s shop, Bless Your Art, has never been busier. Good thing her new friend, Lizzie, has opened a bakery nearby and provides Ainsley and her staff with tasty treats and daily sugar rushes. It’s all cookies and fun, until someone ends up dead in the bakery and her new pal is the prime suspect.

Ainsley is convinced Lizzie is innocent. Unfortunately, her brother, the town sheriff, and her boyfriend, Jake, have some not-so-secret suspicions. With a town full of strangers who just might be suspects, Ainsley finds herself targeted by a killer. Even as her world crumbles faster than a cookie, she’s determined to prove her friend’s innocence—if she can stay alive long enough.

Call the Coroner (Staniel)

By Avril Ashton,

Book cover of Call the Coroner (Staniel)

Daniel doesn’t care about life anymore. He only cares about finding the hitman who killed his wife, the only person he ever loved. Unfortunately, when he does find him, his hatred and contempt for the man are only matched by their fiery attraction. Can he betray his wife? With the very man who killed her? This is true love/hate, starting very much on the hate side, and remaining so for a long time, even when the passion is burning high and they have to hide from other Mafiosi. Very much a violent read, I am a fan of the guilt and of the bi trope. This very desperate, very edgy MM mafia love/hate romance will blow your mind, the darkness and the hotness are unforgettable.


Who am I?

Dostoevsky wrote that the opposite of love is not hatred, it is indifference. That’s why I have always been fascinated by the topic of love hate. They are not opposed, they are somehow connected, and when I started writing romance I spent an insane amount of time trying to understand how people cross the bridge from hate to love. It makes for incredible stories of seduction, corruption, resilience, and ultimately happiness. As a ‘villain writer’ who enjoys writing about passionate characters going the extra mile, burning the world down to keep their love warm, I am familiar with the tropes and my imagination knows no bounds.


I wrote...

The Director Must Die: A Stardust story

By Dina Thala,

Book cover of The Director Must Die: A Stardust story

What is my book about?

“He was my father’s best friend. Now he is his bitterest enemy. And he has the most disturbing proposition: He wants to marry me.”

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Gina, a young, idealistic woman, is recruited by the elusive Rebellion. “The Director must die!” they said. She wants to fight the Empire and this marriage proposal is a golden opportunity. Alas, the innocent girl falls into a trap, putting her beloved father in danger. To counter the Director’s dark plans, she must sort out what happened between the two men decades ago…

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith,

Book cover of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is another classic, this time of the coming-of-age variety. The humble, industrial area of the city is evoked with gritty realism here. Protagonist Francie’s early 1900s neighborhood is as alive as its resourceful heroine struggling with the challenges of poverty, an adored alcoholic father, and family survival. Both Brooklyn and Francie will stay in your heart forever. There is so much beyond a child’s control, especially in a world dominated by poverty. I am deeply touched by this story and all its film adaptations.

Who am I?

Eileen Charbonneau’s love affair with New York City was cemented the day she was downtown on jury duty and witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. New York is the Melting Pot birthplace of her parents, home of her first job (Brooklyn) first Shakespeare (Central Park) and Folk music (Greenwich Village) performances, first apartments (West Village and Washington Heights), and first cocktail (Kir Royale at the Algonquin). Many family stories and deep roots remain.


I wrote...

Watch Over Me

By Eileen Charbonneau,

Book cover of Watch Over Me

What is my book about?

Eileen Charbonneau has written her own love song to New York City in Book 2 of her Code Talker Chronicles series: Watch Over Me. In the crucible of World War II, OSS agents New Yorker Kitty Charante and Navaho Code talker Luke Kayenta are unlikely partners. Still, they leap hurdles of class, race, and their soul-searing time as they elude capture and death by Nazi agents—agents determined to crack and share the Navajo code with their Japanese allies. Kitty and Luke’s wild weekend takes them from the Empire State Building to the lower East Side to the nightclubs of Harlem to a confrontation aboard a U-Boat off Coney Island.

The Two-Family House

By Lynda Cohen Loigman,

Book cover of The Two-Family House

This book has everything a book club could ask for. Characters that you love, even when maybe you shouldn’t. Relationships that seem both familiar and endlessly fascinating. An epic dilemma that resonates and flourishes until the very end. It’ll definitely have you wondering, what would I do? At the end of the day, that question is all you really need for a lively book club discussion. 


Who am I?

I love book club. If I could make it a requirement for everyone in the universe to give it a try, I would. I was an English major in college, so that feeling of ending an amazing story and needing someone to discuss it with never fully went away. All book club books should be thought-provoking, but the best add that intricate and wholehearted understanding, I think, that only literature can. Why do the characters you least understood or felt a kinship with suddenly have your heart, what do they want, need, feel, think? I hope these novels help you better understand. The who and what are beside the point. 


I wrote...

Life As An Almost

By Vered Hazanchuk,

Book cover of Life As An Almost

What is my book about?

Evie Mission is a survivor. A fiery, young woman who grew up in the foster care system, she is just trying to figure out what living a “normal” life even means. When Evie finds out her cerebral palsy dates back to her biological mother’s back-alley abortion attempt, her orderly world is turned upside down and she embarks on a journey to find answers. But finding answers means the one thing she’s dreading more than anything: finding her mother. 

Told through alternating narration, Life As An Almost is a poignant, timely story about mothers, daughters, and what we expect from the people we call family.

Witches of Brooklyn

By Sophie Escabasse,

Book cover of Witches of Brooklyn

When orphaned Effie moves in with her Aunts, she's expecting it to be the worst. But her spunky aunts are more than they appear and when Effie herself starts to exhibit magical talent, life gets interesting. Escabasse’s setting is contemporary Brooklyn, complete with smartphones and pop stars, imbued with the perfect balance of magic. As a reader who wants to believe that there’s always a hint of magic just around the corner, I fell in love with Effie’s world. With delightfully quirky characters and effervescent drawings, this book is sweetly smart, loving, and lovely. 


Who am I?

I write for middle grade readers because they still dwell in a place of possibility. They know flashy magic doesn’t exist but they’ll still check the back of a wardrobe to see if it leads to Narnia. Middle grade is a period where readers explore their identity, trying to figure out who they are as well as who they’ll become. In these witchy books, the protagonists are exploring their identities, trying to reconcile expectations and the broadening world around them with who they truly are. The resulting books are adventures both external and internal and the start of exciting journeys. 


I wrote...

Baba Yaga's Assistant

By Marika McCoola, Emily Carroll (illustrator),

Book cover of Baba Yaga's Assistant

What is my book about?

Most children think twice before braving a haunted wood filled with terrifying beasties to match wits with a witch, but not Masha. Her beloved grandma taught her many things: that stories are useful, that magic is fickle, that nothing is too difficult or too dirty to clean. The fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. She may be clever enough to enter Baba Yaga’s house-on-chicken-legs, but within its walls, deceit is the rule. To earn her place, Masha must pass a series of tests, outfox a territorial bear, and make dinner for her host. No easy task, with children on the menu!

Spooky and poignant, my stunning debut—with richly layered art by acclaimed graphic artist Emily Carroll—is a storytelling feat and a visual feast.

Last Exit to Brooklyn

By Hubert Selby Jr.,

Book cover of Last Exit to Brooklyn

Selby got into writing late in his life (much like me!) but that doesn’t negate the richness of his five novels and the best one: Last Exit to Brooklyn. If you read about Selby’s life, he could just as easily write an autobiography and it would have proved that fact is stranger than fiction. Last Exit, is a pulled-together novel from his initial forays into creative writing and short fiction, but don’t worry about that, because the tales of down-and-out diversity are all jaw-dropping, eye-popping, mind-boggling, and gut-wrenching. These literary portraits capture the depravity of life at its finest juncture, between heaven and hell—but mainly hell! 


Who am I?

I was educated in the so-called ‘university of life’, before eventually going to a few proper universities, and returning to live in my old hometown in Essex—after spending far too long making loud music and a nuisance of myself in South London. My literary references are eclectic, but I thought I would focus my book recommendations on the anti-hero who comes from the world of French and American dirty realism. It should alert the reader to the kind of novels I write, although they're highly structured crime thrillers, with a heavy dose of very dry, sardonic sense of humor. Finally, the sequel to my latest novel should be ready for publication in 2023.


I wrote...

The Dead Hand of Dominique

By Simon Marlowe,

Book cover of The Dead Hand of Dominique

What is my book about?

The novel is narrated by a young career villain Steven Mason, who lives on a run-down housing estate along the fringes of London and Essex. He is tasked by his gangland boss (nicknamed Grandad) to track down his missing girlfriend Dominique. However, Steven knows things are not going to be simple when he discovers a frozen hand in Mickey Finn's old fridge. Steven then travels up to London with his mate Anthony (a junkie artist who Grandad uses to launder money), to begin the search for Dominique. As Steven speaks to people connected with her, he begins to uncover a plot that is about revenge, money, power, and control. And it all centers on the dead hand, what is on the dead hand, and if it is Dominique’s.

Brooklyn Knight

By C.J. Henderson,

Book cover of Brooklyn Knight

If Indiana Jones was based in Brooklyn and was also an expert at magic and arcane lore, you'd have Piers Knight, the titular character of this book. Although a bit lighter on humor than the other entries here, I found this book to be fun and snappy, and as an additional bonus delves into the real (and weird!) historical factoids about New York City.

Who am I?

I've lived in Brooklyn for over 30 years now. I've always had a weakness for fun, snarky urban fantasy where the city is always a supporting character—and sometimes a major one. One day I decided to write a short story in the style of Simon R. Green's Nightside books, only instead of London, it'd feature New York City. And thus, the Conradverse was born. I tend to combine action, humor, real Brooklyn and NYC locations and history, and copious pop culture references when writing in this setting, and I seek out other books that do a great job at handling some or all of these elements.


I wrote...

The Middling Affliction: The Conradverse Chronicles, Book 1

By Alex Shvartsman,

Book cover of The Middling Affliction: The Conradverse Chronicles, Book 1

What is my book about?

Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and evil wizards. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret. He's a middling—a despised half-gifted who can perceive magic but has no powers of his own.

When a shady corporation develops a bioweapon against magic users, Conrad's secrets are revealed. Stripped of his rank, magical objects, friends, and allies, he must save the world—and a fellow middling—using only his wits and copious amounts of coffee.

Justice

By Emily Conrad,

Book cover of Justice

A contemporary retelling of the story of Dinah in the Bible, Justice deals with the effects of pregnancy resulting from rape and I was overwhelmed with the way Ms. Conrad resolved the issues facing her hero and heroine. The story is well-written and fast-paced without sacrificing God’s truth and redemptive powers.


Who am I?

I am first and foremost an avid reader of a variety of genres, but women’s/romantic fiction is my favorite. I have a passion for God and His ability to pull us out of the deepest pit and transform a life of beauty from the ashes of our past. Although I write from a “Christian” viewpoint, I prefer characters with flaws and books that deal with women’s issues in a realistic way, not glossed over or hinted at. Which is why my tagline is “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ In my opinion, the harder our characters fall from grace, the more powerful their redemption or testimony will be.


I wrote...

The Visionary

By Pamela S. Thibodeaux,

Book cover of The Visionary

What is my book about?

While most visionaries see into the future, Taylor sees the past. but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disturbingly prevalent in today’s society.

Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?

The Dodgers Move West

By Neil Sullivan,

Book cover of The Dodgers Move West

This is actually a book about a baseball stadium that was not built—the Brooklyn Dodgers’ proposed new home in that borough’s downtown that fell victim to the shortsightedness of New York City elected officials and that of their master, building czar and power broker Robert Moses. This was the first systematic and objective examination of the emotionally-fraught subject of the team’s 1957 departure for Los Angeles and the promise of a new stadium there (the subject of my City of Dreams), and was instrumental in placing responsibility for the Dodgers’ move squarely on the shoulders of New York pols and the imperious Moses. Also highly recommended is Sullivan’s The Diamond in the Bronx: Yankee Stadium and the Politics of New York


Who am I?

Major league baseball stadiums have always enthralled me—their architectures, their atmospheres, their surroundings. Each has a unique story to tell. So I decided to tell the story of how perhaps the greatest of all American ballparks, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, came to be. As an urban historian, I also wished to tell a broader story of how the argument between 1957 and 1962 over whether, where, and how to build the stadium helped make Los Angeles into the modern city we know today. So writing City of Dreams allowed me to combine my passions for baseball, for stadiums, and for the history of American cities.


I wrote...

City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles

By Jerald Podair,

Book cover of City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles

What is my book about?

City of Dreams is about a baseball stadium—Dodger Stadium—but it is also about a modern American city searching for its identity. Brooklyn Dodger owner Walter O’Malley moved his team to Los Angeles in 1957 in order to build the ballpark of his dreams, with cutting-edge amenities and beautiful sightlines. But O’Malley’s dreams were not shared by many of his new Los Angeles neighbors, who believed that the Dodgers, a private entity, had received inappropriate public assistance from city officials. The ensuing battle to build Dodger Stadium, which stretched over four years, was thus over more than baseball: it was over the look, the feel, and the soul of the city of Los Angeles. 

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