The most recommended books about Manhattan

Who picked these books? Meet our 143 experts.

143 authors created a book list connected to Manhattan, and here are their favorite Manhattan books.
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What type of Manhattan book?


The Writer

By Gina A. Jones,

Book cover of The Writer

Andrea Smith Author Of Murders on the Ridge: Mystery in Briar County

From the list on 'who-dun-it' fiction.

Who am I?

My passion for true crime fiction started in 2016 with the murders of eight family members in a neighboring county in Southern Ohio. The case made international news, and five years later there are still more questions than answers. I felt the victims of this heinous crime deserved some closure which the legal system has not yet provided. So, writing a fictional version of this story was my way of providing closure - at least in my own mind.

Andrea's book list on 'who-dun-it' fiction

Why did Andrea love this book?

If mystery and suspense are your thing, this is a who-dun-it that will suck you in quickly. This book totally captivated me from start to finish. I think what hooked me was the way the author took the prologue to actually show the past, and then when the novel started, all the threads of the story were sewn together so beautifully. Full of twists and turns which make a great suspense experience. There is some romantic drama tossed in which is always the icing on the cake for me as well.

By Gina A. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Bestselling Novelist’s book comes back to haunt her.

Kayleigh Carter is starting her life over above a coffee shop in downtown Manhattan. She is also the author of the hit thriller, My Legal Guardian, in which a “bad boy billionaire” plays Fifty Shades of Grey-style mind games on a female protagonist. She discovers the previous tenant, a young college girl, of her apartment went missing—the inspiration for her next thriller. However, someone doesn’t want her found and she soon attracts a psychopath. Someone is also one step ahead of her, leaving her messages signed, XXX. But the deeper Kayleigh…


By Matthew Mather,

Book cover of CyberStorm

Mark Lukens Author Of Ancient Enemy

From the list on horror set in the dead of winter.

Who am I?

There’s something about a horror story set in the winter, especially with characters stuck in a snowstorm, that makes it more chilling to me. My first novel, Ancient Enemy, was inspired by my love of horror set in the dead of winter. If you haven’t read these books on my list, I hope you’ll check them out. It was difficult narrowing the list down to just five – I can think of so many other great winter-themed horror novels.

Mark's book list on horror set in the dead of winter

Why did Mark love this book?

While not technically a horror novel, this book paints a scary possibility – an unflinching look at what a nationwide blackout in the middle of winter would be like, focusing on a group of people in an apartment building in Manhattan. They are trapped, trying to find food, trying to stay warm, trying to survive. Loved this book. I always recommend this one. 

By Matthew Mather,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The incredibly realistic story of one family's struggle to survive the apocalyptic destruction of New York. GoodReads Award winning million-copy international bestseller now in development with NETFLIX.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "Shows how dangerous our transition to an interconnected infrastructure has become." —Karic Allega, Joint Military Cyber Command, US NAVY

New York goes dark in the dead of winter...
A terrifying mystery begins...
But who is the enemy?

Mike Mitchell is an average New Yorker struggling just to keep his family together and take care of his two-year-old son when a string of disasters shreds the bustling city around…

Loving What Is

By Stephen Mitchell, Byron Katie,

Book cover of Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

Geanne Meta Author Of Parenting Well After Childhood Abuse: Be a Great Parent Even if Yours Were Crap

From the list on self-help I wish I’d read sooner.

Who am I?

I’ve been on a quest of healing my childhood trauma for decades. Now I’m living with gratitude and a zest for life. Let my research help you on your own unique journey. Since you’re reading this, it may be the exact time for you to move forward on your self-actualization trip! Here’s a tip: You don’t need “improvement.” You’re already good – you just need help to find it inside and believe it. Here are 5 books that helped me accept myself, made me think differently about others, and opened new possibilities for happiness and peace. 

Geanne's book list on self-help I wish I’d read sooner

Why did Geanne love this book?

This book, and a couple of seminars with Byron Katie, really did change my life! I was stuck in negative thinking and couldn’t seem to get out of it. She offers a straightforward method to challenge your thoughts and turn them around to other possibilities. It‘s almost magical how your hurtful beliefs can be changed into accepting “the way it is” without the hurt.

Get this book and get some relief from whatever is bothering you. Truly.

By Stephen Mitchell, Byron Katie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Loving What Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the truth hiding behind troubling thoughts with Byron Katie’s self-help classic.

In 2003, Byron Katie first introduced the world to The Work with the publication of Loving What Is. Nearly twenty years later, Loving What Is continues to inspire people all over the world to do The Work; to listen to the answers they find inside themselves;and to open their minds to profound, spacious, and life-transforming insights. The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light.

Loving What Is shows you step…

Joe Gould's Secret

By Joseph Mitchell,

Book cover of Joe Gould's Secret

Bill Scheft Author Of Tommy Dash: Was It Everything I Said?

From Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Drummer Widower Urban Wit Sober

Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Bill love this book?

This is embarrassing. Joseph Mitchell, the journalist and legendary longtime contributor to the New Yorker, is, in my opinion, the finest chronicler of 1950-80s Manhattan life who ever lived.

Here’s what’s embarrassing. I have previously devoured all of his story collections and any reprints in the New Yorker, but never read his greatest work, about the Village bohemian eccentric Joe Gould. Not anymore. As deft a piece of journalism as ever was.

By Joseph Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Joe Gould's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It's a masterpiece, of course, but more than that it shows that there is some such thing as being a simple observer' Nicci French, Independent

It was 1932 when Joseph Mitchell first came across Joe Gould, a Harvard-educated vagrant of Greenwich Village. Penniless, filthy, scurrilous, charming, thieving, Joe Gould was widely considered a genius. He was working on a book he called an Oral History - the longest book ever written he claimed, formed of recorded conversations set down in exercise books. Of course, when Gould died the great epic was nowhere to be found.

This compelling portrait of a…

Zone One

By Colson Whitehead,

Book cover of Zone One

DC Pierson Author Of Crap Kingdom

From the list on weirdly hopeful dystopias.

Who am I?

When I’m writing, my brain’s ability to jump instantly to the worst-case scenario is a huge plus. But in life, that’s just called “anxiety,” something I’ve always struggled with. Works of fiction that do what my brain does naturally — assume the worst — and still find some hope, humor, or redemption there have always been weirdly reassuring to me. And what’s more “worst-case scenario” than post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction? Here are five books where, in the wake of disaster or the grip of tyranny, people still manage to have dreams, dignity, or even just a laugh.

DC's book list on weirdly hopeful dystopias

Why did DC love this book?

In Zone One, the frantic oh-*expletive* bloodbath phase of a zombie apocalypse has clicked over into something like a new normal. In lower Manhattan, our hero “Mark Spitz” mops up straggler zombies seemingly stuck in mindless loops from their past lives and reflects on the transformed yet familiar landscape. Zone One made me realize how specific streets are encoded in my own memories, and made me want to be more present in my own life, to move through the world less like a zombie.

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this brilliantly original take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, American novelist Colson Whitehead shakes up the zombie genre with genius results.

A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilisation under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street - aka 'Zone One' - eliminating the most dangerous plague victims, but pockets of infected squatters remain. Teams…

Bad News

By Edward St Aubyn,

Book cover of Bad News

Tim Willis Author Of Madcap

From the list on madness, drugs, and rock’n’roll.

Who am I?

Until the millennium, I was a features journalist with an abiding fascination in Sixties counter-culture. Being a friend of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, I heard Syd’s story first-hand. After having my own breakdown and psychiatric treatment, I decided to apply my experience and interests in writing an account of Syd’s short but sweet creative life. With Gilmour’s tacit blessing, his contemporaries – including Floyd co-founder Roger Waters – gave me access. And through interviewing them, I came to my own understanding of Barrett: by turns a crazy diamond and a dark globe.

Tim's book list on madness, drugs, and rock’n’roll

Why did Tim love this book?

No one captures the self-loathing and paradoxical liberty of the moneyed junkie as well as St Aubyn (except perhaps Anna Cavan). The second novel in his almost-autobiographical Patrick Melrose series, Bad News finds our fucked-up anti-hero on a gargantuan smack binge in New York at the age of 22. How the author – now clean – can reconstruct his frame of mind is remarkable; how he can do it with such precision and wit is mind-blowing.

By Edward St Aubyn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bad News is the second of Edward St Aubyn's semi-autobiographical Patrick Melrose novels, adapted for TV for Sky Atlantic and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as aristocratic addict, Patrick.

Twenty-two years old and in the grip of a massive addiction, Patrick Melrose is forced to fly to New York to collect his father's ashes. Over the course of a weekend, Patrick's remorseless search for drugs on the avenues of Manhattan, haunted by old acquaintances and insistent inner voices, sends him into a nightmarish spiral. Alone in his room at the Pierre Hotel, he pushes body and mind to the very edge -…

Beautiful Bad

By Annie Ward,

Book cover of Beautiful Bad

Karen Hamilton Author Of The Ex-Husband

From the list on featuring transport.

Who am I?

I worked as long-haul cabin crew for many years and I love travelling. I’ve really missed being able to travel (as many have too) and I dream of the places I’ll be able to visit again soon. The Ex-Husband was the book I wrote in lockdown so I loved being able to ‘escape’ to the sunny Caribbean. I had fond memories of a trip to Barbados, so the book is mostly set there. I also travelled a lot as a child and one of my first memories is of being on a plane.

Karen's book list on featuring transport

Why did Karen love this book?

This book is rich in detail and tells the story of Maddie who is a travel writer who meets her future husband, Ian, while abroad. From the beginning during a 911 call, it’s obvious that something has gone badly wrong. This is a wonderfully written book, set in the Balkans, Iraq, and Kansas, to name a few places, and is full of tension. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 

By Annie Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Ward writes with the same compelling energy as you get in a blockbuster Netflix series'
Daily Mail

'Compelling. Filled with unexpected twists... a riveting read'
Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Wife Between Us

Maddie and Ian's romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD;…

Discount Armageddon

By Seanan McGuire,

Book cover of Discount Armageddon

Kate Berberich Author Of Picture Imperfect

From the list on unpredictable protagonists.

Who am I?

I’m going to date myself horribly here, but…I’m an old-school fan of the guy in the grey hat. Think Kerr Avon of Blake’s 7. The guy you could never quite predict. Or Han Solo until about halfway through The Empire Strikes Back. Are they going to do the right thing? Are they going to follow their heart? And it’s so satisfying when they do! Of course, it’s equally satisfying when they go right ahead and sucker punch the bad guy, ‘cuz hey—only the good guys give warnings, right?

Kate's book list on unpredictable protagonists

Why did Kate love this book?

Discount Armageddon is the first of the InCryptid novels.

The Price family comes from a long line of monster hunters, but a few generations back, they decided they didn’t agree with the prevailing definition of “monster.” Now they’re dedicated to protecting the cryptid community—as long as it’s not chowing down on the neighbors.

I love this universe because there’s such a wide variety of characters that are each convinced that their way is the right way. Sometimes you never quite know whose side someone will come down on. Discount Armageddon introduces us to Verity Price.

Verity is tough, resourceful, and yeah—kinda selfish at times. She’s no goody-two-shoes, but she does a lot of good, just the same.

By Seanan McGuire,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity - and humanity from them.

Meet Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan to pursue her dream career in professional ballroom dance. That is, until talking mice, telepathic mathematicians, and a tangle with the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George, get in her way...

A Year Down Yonder

By Richard Peck,

Book cover of A Year Down Yonder

Susan Lubner Author Of Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl

From the list on characters in a unexpected living situation.

Who am I?

As a writer my storylines almost always develop out of the characters and settings I first create. As a reader, I enjoy a book as much (sometimes more!) for the characters and setting in it as I do for the plot itself. My favorite reads have always featured a quirky or bigger-than-life character and a setting that in some instances may seem ordinary but the circumstances of how the character ended up there are far from that. I love the middle-grade novels on my list because the main characters are brave and resourceful and each has an unusual and intriguing path that has led them to where their story takes place.

Susan's book list on characters in a unexpected living situation

Why did Susan love this book?

Two words. Grandma Dowdel. She is one of the many reasons I love this book. Fifteen-year-old Mary Alice is forced to leave her parents and her home during a difficult time in 1937. A city girl, it’s no easy feat moving from the big city of Chicago to a small town and in with her larger-than-life grandmother who will have you laughing out loud at her very un-granny-like antics. Peck’s punchy, smart, and often hilarious prose, parallels nicely with undertones of a more serious and difficult period of time for many families.  Mary Alice is easy to root for as she finds her footing in a year filled with many new adjustments in a place very different from home.  

By Richard Peck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Year Down Yonder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Newbery Medal Winner

Richard Peck's Newbery Medal-winning sequel to A Long Way from Chicago

Mary Alice's childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel's sleepy Illinois town were packed with enough drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she is fifteen, and faces a whole long year with Grandma, a woman well known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else! All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not. This wry, delightful sequel to the Newbery Honor Book A Long Way…

Artisanal Cocktails

By Scott Beattie, Sara Remington (photographer),

Book cover of Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus

Lou Bustamante Author Of The Complete Cocktail Manual: Recipes and Tricks of the Trade for Modern Mixologists

From the list on the future of cocktails by SF Bay Area writers.

Who am I?

While the Bay Area’s impact on the way we eat as a country, being at the forefront of the farm-to-table and seasonal produce movement, cocktails are being equal consideration. Why not? Distilled spirits are agricultural products, the same way wine and beer are, and so it reasons that we would worry about how they are made, their history, and the future. Can cocktails be made in a more sustainable way? Can I use beets in my cocktail? Do spirits have a sense of place? And will applying beer to a wound help it heal (note: it won’t)? Here’s a selection of books that explore the past, present, and possible future of how you drink.

Lou's book list on the future of cocktails by SF Bay Area writers

Why did Lou love this book?

This book was published at the beginning of the cocktail revolution and was instrumental to creating the idea that cocktails could be based on peak season produce in the same way that food is.

Everything from herbs, fruits, and vegetables get featured in a drink. While the book is historically important, it still feels modern, packed with techniques to make the best of the season’s bounty. 

By Scott Beattie, Sara Remington (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lush, full-color collection of 50 cocktail recipes using organic, sustainable produce, handcrafted ingredients, and local artisanal spirits, from the bar manager at the award-winning Cyrus restaurant.

Inspired by the bounty of Sonoma County's organic farms and local distilleries, Scott Beattie shakes up the cocktail world with his extreme twists on classic bar fare. In ARTISANAL COCKTAILS, Beattie reveals his intense attention to detail and technique with a collection of visually stunning and astonishingly tasty drinks made with top-shelf spirits, fresh-squeezed juices, and just-picked herbs and flowers. In creatively named recipes such as Meyer Beautiful (My, You're Beautiful), Hot Indian…

Leave Society

By Tao Lin,

Book cover of Leave Society

John Pistelli Author Of The Quarantine of St. Sebastian House

From the list on ideas of the last 50 years.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by philosophical ideas, the more radical and counterintuitive the better. But as someone who’s never excelled at abstract thought, I’ve found these ideas’ expression in argumentative nonfiction both dry and unpersuasive, lacking the human context that would alone test the strength of propositions about spirituality, justice, love, education, and more. The novel of ideas brings concepts to life in the particular personalities and concrete experiences of fictional characters—a much more vivid and convincing way to explore the world of thought. Many readers will be familiar with the genre’s classics (Voltaire, Dostoevsky, Mann, Camus), so I’d like to recommend more recent instances I find personally or artistically inspiring.

John's book list on ideas of the last 50 years

Why did John love this book?

In 2021’s most widely-discussed literary novel, Lin, the former enfant terrible of the early 2000s alt-lit scene, rejects that movement’s terse and affectless style in favor of a more startlingly inventive prose alive to everyday experience’s strangeness. This autobiographical novel recounts its narrator’s attempt to wean himself from the toxic habits and substances of our “dominator” society and, through natural foods and psychedelic drugs, to return to a matriarchal cooperative tradition he describes at length. Whatever we think of Lin’s potentially sentimental historiography, he embeds it in a gentle family comedy that effloresces into a tender romance. I appreciate Lin’s countercultural commitment to rejecting fashionable pessimism and unthinking science-worship, and I respect his evolving ethic of personal kindness. It would be preachy if issued as a proclamation, but becomes a practice we can all learn to share when shown in a novel.

By Tao Lin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the acclaimed author of Taipei, a bold portrait of a writer working to balance all his lives—artist, son, loner—as he spins the ordinary into something monumental. An engrossing, hopeful novel about life, fiction, and where the two blur together.

In 2014, a novelist named Li leaves Manhattan to visit his parents in Taipei for ten weeks. He doesn't know it yet, but his life will begin to deepen and complexify on this trip. As he flies between these two worlds--year by year, over four years--he will flit in and out of optimism, despair, loneliness, sanity, bouts of chronic pain,…

Book cover of Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan and Friends

Noel Venning Author Of Batched & Bottled Cocktails

From the list on to improve cocktail making.

Who am I?

Noel has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality sector and opened Three Sheets with his brother Max in 2016 to critical acclaim. Specialising in cocktails, the bar has a focus on simple, elegant serves that put the customer first. We were voted as the UK’s best bar at the Class Awards 2019. Three Sheets has also been listed in the World's 50 Best Bars list, rising to number 16. Three Sheets is currently Timeout London's Best Bar.

Noel's book list on to improve cocktail making

Why did Noel love this book?

Ryan is undoubtedly the biggest name in cocktails right now. He has pioneered numerous venues in London and around the world focused on changing the way we think about bars and cocktails.

His book is not only a great entry into the world of cocktails with great classic recipes, but it also showcases interesting flavour combinations and techniques that can be used both in a bar and at home.

By Ryan Chetiyawardana,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan and Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An essential companion and an exciting treat" - Marco Pierre White"Mr Lyan is king of cocktails" - Todd Selby. Cocktails aren't just for fancy nights out and snobby home mixologists. Join award-winning and internationally acclaimed mixologist Mr Lyan (the man behind the White Lyan and Dandelyan bars in London) for cocktail hour as he shows you how 60 innovative and exciting cocktails can be part of your everyday life. Easy to make and beautifully photographed, here you will find a cocktail for every mood and occasion, from sunny day drinks and winter warmers to Friday night cocktails and morning revivers.…

Book cover of The Lost Language of Cranes

Zev Good Author Of All About The Benjamins

From the list on books to come out any age.

Who am I?

I’ve been gay for as long as I can remember. I even told my mother, when I was five years old, that I was going to marry Hoss Cartwright (from the TV show Bonanza). But even knowing yourself that well doesn’t make it easy to actually be yourself, so I still had to come out to friends and family over a span of five or six years in my late teens and early twenties. And coming out is never easy, although it feels like a million bucks once you’ve done it. Also, it’s different for everyone, and having books like these I’ve recommended may not make it easier, but they show us that it can be done and that we’re not alone. 

Zev's book list on books to come out any age

Why did Zev love this book?

This was the first “real” book I read where the characters were gay and no one was being ridiculed for it. I was fourteen years old when I checked it out from the library and I was astounded by it. It helped me understand that I could just be gay and there was nothing wrong with that. Or me. 

By David Leavitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of his generation's most gifted writers.' New York Times 'An amazingly perceptive novel.' San Francisco Chronicle 'Fascinating... lingers in the mind' New York Times Book Review Owen and Rose are facing serious challenges to their married life of routine and monotony as New York City grows and changes around them. They spend most Sundays apart; while Rose buries herself in crosswords and newspapers, Owen visits gay porn theaters. But when they discover they may lose their apartment and their son, prompted by his new relationship, reveals his homosexuality, their lives cannot continue as they were. Owen and Rose are…

How To Talk To A Widower

By Jonathan Tropper,

Book cover of How To Talk To A Widower

Bart Yates Author Of The Language of Love and Loss

From the list on wiseass narrators and dysfunctional families.

Who am I?

The stories I’ve loved the most in my life have all been about the richness of human relationships, told by a memorable narrator who can find humor and hope in almost everything, no matter how screwed up. Whether it’s Charles Dickens poking fun at his contemporaries in Victorian England or Armistead Maupin sending up friendship and love in San Francisco in the 1980s, I’m a sucker for well-told, convoluted, and funny tales about people who find life with other human beings difficult, but still somehow manage to laugh about it and keep on going. As the author of six novels myself, these are the kinds of stories I always try to tell.  

Bart's book list on wiseass narrators and dysfunctional families

Why did Bart love this book?

I love this novel. It’s about a young man mourning the death of his wife and trying to deal with crippling grief while also repairing his relationship with his sixteen-year-old stepson. With such a premise you wouldn’t think the book would be funny, but it’s both hysterical and emotionally touching. 

Trooper has a gift for making extremely dysfunctional characters lovable, putting them in ludicrous situations and turning them loose on each other. This book really resonated with me because of the damaged-yet-enduring family dynamic after the death of a loved one, which is similar to my own experience following the death of my father. 

The evolving relationship between the main character and his stepson is also great, and Tropper nails the adolescent angst I remember so well from my own childhood.

By Jonathan Tropper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How To Talk To A Widower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Doug Parker married Hailey - beautiful, smart and ten years older - he left his carefree Manhattan life behind to live with her and her teenaged son, Russ, in a quiet Westchester community. Three years later, Hailey has been dead for a year, and Doug, a widower at 29, just wants to drown himself in self-pity and Jack Daniels. But his family has other ideas.

Russ is furious with Doug for not adopting him after Hailey died, and has fallen in with a bad crowd. Claire, Doug's irrepressible and pregnant twin sister, has just left her husband and moved…

Manhattan Transfer

By John Dos Passos,

Book cover of Manhattan Transfer

Scott Brooks Author Of And There We Were and Here We Are

From the list on if you love old black-and-white movies.

Who am I?

I'm a New Yorker with a background in the performing arts. Though a lifelong reader and bookstore loiterer, my early writing career was focused on the stage as well as the pursuit of a career in screenwriting. This led to many years writing and producing theatre as well as working in film and TV both as a writer and in production. The books I've chosen, I feel influenced the American language in the last century, an influence reflected in the tone of the novels and films from that period described by scholars as “Between the Wars.” It's a period that fascinates me for it exists now only in books and movies and is therein preserved.

Scott's book list on if you love old black-and-white movies

Why did Scott love this book?

I chose this book because it is, I am almost sure, the least known of the bunch, in a list that I admit champions some lesser-known giants of American literature from the last century and a style that influenced me as a writer. But what Dos Passos does with this novel stands apart. An experimental novel when it was published in 1925 Dos Passos jumps back and forth between the narratives of his disparate characters – from bankers to soldiers - creating a pastiche of life in the 1920s and in New York in particular that is raw and harsh at times in its critique of the greedy capitalistic country we were becoming.

What strikes me most about this hundred-year-old book, is how starkly modern it seems today.

By John Dos Passos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'My literary hero is John Dos Passos' - Adam Curtis (filmmaker)

'A modernist masterpiece, capturing ... the fragmented lives it sketches, in a dazzling kaleidoscope of New York City in the 1920s' Christopher Hudson, Evening Standard

'Dos Passos has invented only one thing, an art of story-telling. But that is enough to create a universe' Jean-Paul Sartre

'The best modern book about New York'
D.H. Lawrence

A modernist masterwork that has more in common with films than traditional novels, John Dos Passos' Manhattan Transfer includes an introduction by Jay McInerney in Penguin Modern Classics.

A colourful, multi-faceted chronicle of New…


By Elissa Altman,

Book cover of Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

Laura Davis Author Of The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story

From the list on the mother-daughter relationship.

Who am I?

We all have obsessions in life and one of mine has been my mother and the great love and enmity that ricocheted between us for fifty-seven years. Throughout the decades, my mother went from protector to controller to betrayer to ogre to human to an elderly woman in my care. The love and hate, distance and intimacy, estrangement, and reconciliation that we experienced made me a lifelong student of the mother-daughter bond. I‘ve written about my mother for more than 30 years, and love reading mother-daughter stories, not saccharine sweet ones, but complex multi-layered dramas where there’s no villain and no hero—just two humans struggling to love and understand each other.

Laura's book list on the mother-daughter relationship

Why did Laura love this book?

There are so many things I loved about Motherland, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, Elissa Altman is a brilliant writer and a great storyteller. Her portrayal of her dramatic, narcissistic mother created a flawed, human, larger-than-life character I will never forget. Elissa moves us through time effortlessly, at one moment vividly portraying herself as a child and in the next, seamlessly bringing in the voice of wisdom—her adult voice now—as we watch her struggle to make peace with the past. I deeply resonated with the love and hate, attachment and resentment that ricocheted between this unforgettable mother-daughter pair. I love books that grab me and don’t let me go. Motherland definitely had me hooked all the way from beginning to end. I hated leaving Altman’s world behind. I didn’t want the book to end.

By Elissa Altman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“I’m reading this book right now and loving it!”—Cheryl Strayed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wild

How can a mother and daughter who love (but don’t always like) each other coexist without driving each other crazy? 

“Vibrating with emotion, this deeply honest account strikes a chord.”—People
“A wry and moving meditation on aging and the different kinds of love between women.”—O: The Oprah Magazine 

After surviving a traumatic childhood in nineteen-seventies New York and young adulthood living in the shadow of her flamboyant mother, Rita, a makeup-addicted former television singer, Elissa Altman has managed to build a very…

The Naked and the Dead

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Naked and the Dead

Charles Salzberg Author Of Man on the Run

From the list on reads for valuable lessons as a crime writer.

Who am I?

I was an English major in college and my dream was to write the Great American Novel. My literary heroes were writers like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Jean Rhys, Margaret Drabble, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer. They “taught” me how to write. About a dozen years ago, I concentrated on writing crime novels, like Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man, both of which were nominated for Shamus Awards (Second Story Man won the Beverly Hills Book Award.) I'm a magazine journalist and write nonfiction books, screenplays, plays, and book reviews. I teach writing here in New York City, and I’m on the Board of PrisonWrites and the New York Writers Workshop.

Charles' book list on reads for valuable lessons as a crime writer

Why did Charles love this book?

I first read The Naked and the Dead in a college course covering modern American fiction after World War II.

It was Mailer’s first novel and is recognized as one of the best novels to come out of a writer’s own war experiences (amazingly, Red Badge of Courage, was written by Stephen Crane, without benefit of ever experiencing war first-hand).

You’d think it would have little influence for a crime writer but it does. If you haven’t read the book and intend to, it’s time for a spoiler alert.

One of the main characters is Lt. Hearn, but halfway through the novel, Mailer does the unthinkable. He kills off one of his main characters.

Why in the world would Mailer do something like this? The answer, of course, is that he was mimicking the war experience.

War is unpredictable, especially in terms of who lives and who dies. The lesson…

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Naked and the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since enjoyed a long and well-deserved tenure in the American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially for the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows a platoon of Marines who are stationed on the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948 with the wisdom of a man twice Mailer's age and the raw courage of the young man he was, The…

The Dark Highlander

By Karen Marie Moning,

Book cover of The Dark Highlander

L. S. Bethel Author Of The King's Seer

From the list on romance with supernatural worldbuilding.

Who am I?

Give me all the supernatural and fantasy intrigue with love on the side. Sometimes this world of ours is too much to deal with and it’s nice to visit other worlds. To read and write about the justice, love, and magic of other things that may be lacking in your life can be cathartic and gives us something to look forward to and strive for. While some of the more supernatural aspects might be out of reach, the beauty of unbreakable bonds forged in love and trust, people willing to sacrifice for what they believe in, and seeing justice prevail also gives me the hope that it's not unreachable if you believe it. 

L. S.'s book list on romance with supernatural worldbuilding

Why did L. S. love this book?

For my bookworm girlies who long for a historical adventure. This was one of the first historical fantasy/romance books I ever read and I loved it. I remember really loving the main character because not only was she bookish and unintentionally funny, she was smart, awkward, and relatable. The story gives the reader a chance to dive into a culture you may not be completely familiar with and that accounts for half the intrigue right there! I love the lore, the supernatural elements, the history, the action. It’s a story that ticks all the boxes for fun reads and I’d encourage anyone who enjoys those things to give it a shot.  

By Karen Marie Moning,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Journey to a world of ancient magic, breathtaking sensuality, thrilling time-travel.... Journey to the world of The Dark Highlander. Crisscrossing the continents and the centuries, here is a novel as gripping as it is sensual—an electrifying adventure that will leave you breathless.... I am Dageus MacKeltar, a man with one good conscience and thirteen bad ones, driven to sate my darkest desires… From his penthouse lair high above Manhattan, Dageus looks out over a glittering city that calls to the darkness within him. A sixteenth-century Scot trapped between worlds, he is fighting a losing battle with the thirteen Druids who…

Book cover of My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Genevieve Scott Author Of The Damages

From the list on featuring complex female friendships.

Who am I?

I love to read and write about complex characters and particularly the “unlikeable” female character. Many readers connect with my characters because they are flawed—they don’t always think or do what we want them to, or what we think they should do, which is often (frustratingly) the case with the real-life people we love and care about. Real, complex people exist in real, complex relationships, including friendships that don’t always serve them—or that do serve them, but in unconventional or superficially unclear ways. I think that reading about contradictory, inconsistent, and confused characters in relationships helps us to be kinder and more empathetic people—and, quite possibly, better friends. 

Genevieve's book list on featuring complex female friendships

Why did Genevieve love this book?

Of all the fascinating things about this book’s unnamed character whose goal is to mix prescription drugs in order to sleep through the year, what interested me most was her relationship with her college friend, Reva. What do we call a “friendship” that persists just because it’s our only one?

I’ve seen toxic attachments explored in sexual relationships and families before, but not friendships, which we tend to think of as less complicated, easier to break off. The main character almost never leaves her apartment, but she is relentlessly visited by the needy Reva, who she barely tolerates. Reva is going through hard things and needs support, but the main character has almost nothing to say about her destructive love affair, eating disorder, or even her grief when her mother dies.

These two are clearly holding each other back, and yet, they can’t quite cut each other off. Although it’s…

By Ottessa Moshfegh,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked My Year of Rest and Relaxation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, Time, NPR, Amazon,Vice, Bustle, The New York Times, The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, Entertainment Weekly, The AV Club, & Audible

A New York Times Bestseller

"One of the most compelling protagonists modern fiction has offered in years: a loopy, quietly furious pillhead whose Ambien ramblings and Xanaxed b*tcheries somehow wend their way through sad and funny and strange toward something genuinely profound." - Entertainment Weekly

"Darkly hilarious . . . [Moshfegh's] the kind of provocateur who makes you laugh out loud while drawing blood." -Vogue

From one of our boldest,…


By Andrew Mayne,

Book cover of Mastermind: A Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood Thriller

Kat Wheeler Author Of There Is No Cloud

From Kat's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Technologist Marketer Reader Author Sports Junkie

Kat's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Kat love this book?

Who doesn’t love a crossover? When two intellectual titans clash with an apocalyptic adversary, sparks fly. Mastermind merges Andrew Mayne's standout characters—FBI's Jessica Blackwood and the genius Dr. Theo Cray—in a high-stakes game against a cultist serial killer named the Warlock. With cities vanishing amidst chaos, and a mystery as deep as the voids themselves, this is not just a read; it's an experience.

Dive into a narrative where every twist is meticulously plotted, and where the line between genius and madness blurs. For those craving a crossover with intelligence and suspense at its core, this thriller is not to be missed.

By Andrew Mayne,

Why should I read it?

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