49 books directly related to Manhattan 📚

All 49 Manhattan books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Short Stories: Five Decades

Short Stories: Five Decades

By Irwin Shaw

Why this book?

Like Cheever, Shaw was a fellow New Yorker contributor but his work is grittier than Cheever’s and was best summed up in The New York Times: “[Shaw] has a primitive skill possessed by very few sophisticated men.” Winner of two O. Henry awards, I would say he is the “meat and potatoes” short story master - but it’s Prime USDA.
From the list:

The best books if you’re delusional and want to pretend you live in 1940s Manhattan

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Book cover of The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman

The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman

By Leo Lerman

Why this book?

I’m not going to lie: this is not for everyone. You really have to be interested - and conversant - in the cultural world of post-war Manhattan (and beyond) for this to sink in. Lerman, who was features editor at Vogue and editor at Vanity Fair among other jobs, was at the center of it all. I could name drop from the book for days, but trust me, everyone from Marlene Dietrich to William Faulkner were regular guests at his parties. More importantly, his position allowed him to champion the careers of artists in every field - writers, singers, painters,…
From the list:

The best books if you’re delusional and want to pretend you live in 1940s Manhattan

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Book cover of Spellbound: A Paranormal Historical Romance (Magic in Manhattan Book 1)

Spellbound: A Paranormal Historical Romance (Magic in Manhattan Book 1)

By Allie Therin

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for a cool historical setting and also for romance with a social-status difference as a main obstacle, and this novel delivers on both! In 1920s-era New York City, amid Prohibition and jazz and snazzy fashions—and, in this version of things, an underworld of secret magic—wealthy Arthur meets working-class Rory, and the sparks begin. Both of the men are utterly endearing (another feature I’m soft on) and bring different paranormal powers to the problem of a lethal magical relic on its way to New York. There are two more books in the series, so if you fall for…

From the list:

The best fantasy and paranormal books with great queer representation

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Book cover of The Writer: A Psychological Thriller Romance

The Writer: A Psychological Thriller Romance

By Gina A. Jones

Why 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.

From the list:

The best 'who-dun-it' fiction

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

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

By Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell

Why 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.

From the list:

The best self-help books I wish I’d read sooner

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Book cover of Manhattan, When I Was Young

Manhattan, When I Was Young

By Mary Cantwell

Why this book?

This is an elegant, finely written memoir by a former writer and editor at Vogue, Mademoiselle and the New York Times that offers an interesting hook: her story is set in five different apartments in Manhattan as her life progresses from single working girl to professional and personal success and hardships including motherhood and divorce. If you’ve ever dreamed of working at a magazine in New York City - particularly during this golden period, then this is the book for you.
From the list:

The best books if you’re delusional and want to pretend you live in 1940s Manhattan

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Book cover of Bad News

Bad News

By Edward St Aubyn

Why 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.
From the list:

The best books about madness, drugs, and rock’n’roll

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Book cover of Cackle

Cackle

By Rachel Harrison

Why this book?

A bewitching book from beginning to end. Harrison knows how to blend her horror with humor, along with an added dash of pathos to make her characters feel achingly real and relatable. What would you do if you moved to a new town, only to discover your neighbor just-so-happened to be a witch? Fair warning to those afraid of spiders: This book is crawling with the little homewreckers.

From the list:

The best books on bad neighbors

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Book cover of This Beautiful Life

This Beautiful Life

By Helen Schulman

Why 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…
From the list:

The best campus novels for the 21st century

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Book cover of Under the Egg

Under the Egg

By Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Why this book?

If a Wes Anderson movie collided with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, it would feel something like this. Thirteen-year-old Theodora’s grandfather recently died, leaving her alone with her mentally ill mother, a crumbling Greenwich Village townhouse, a heap of unpaid bills, and the cryptic message, “Look under the egg”—and what Theo uncovers is a compelling mystery that stretches from the Italian Renaissance to the Nazi prison camps. The community that builds around Theo as she looks for answers is full of great New York eccentrics, and the Manhattan setting is captured with love and charm.

From the list:

The best middle grade mysteries to keep you reading all night

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Book cover of In Five Years

In Five Years

By Rebecca Serle

Why this book?

In full disclosure, I don’t normally pick up mid-20-year-old protagonist books; I’m in my 50’s. I don’t normally relate. In this case, however, I related. It was a good book, solid, entertaining and recommendable.

And here’s where it gets weird – not the book, the fact that the author wrote my life, sort of. When the young protagonist finds her friend dying from cancer, she cracks, and the emotions, thoughts, experiences are so relatable; hauntingly so, I felt as if she were a friend of mine going through my cancer story. This book takes a time travel twist, but don’t…

From the list:

The best books that go beyond the diagnosis: how relationships are affected by cancer

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Book cover of Manhattan Mafia Guide: Hits, Homes & Headquarters

Manhattan Mafia Guide: Hits, Homes & Headquarters

By Eric Ferrara

Why this book?

Author Ferrara takes you on a lively, and chilling, tour of the sites in Manhattan where Mafia dons and underlings brutally wiped out their competition—only to find themselves on the receiving end of the same treatment at some other joint up or downtown. Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East Side—these were the main haunts of New York’s most colorful and deadly criminals in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it’s fun to actually visit the locations with this book as a guide.

From the list:

The best books about crime and punishment in the Gilded Age (1870-1910)

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Book cover of The Anderson Tapes

The Anderson Tapes

By Lawrence Sanders

Why this book?

Sanders’ protagonist, the delightful New York Police Department Captain Edward X. Delaney, had the wonderful habit of building delicious sandwiches that he ate over the kitchen basin. From him, I learnt that crime fiction characters can be quirky. And what they ate said as much about them as what they said.

From the list:

The best old-school crime fiction novels that stood the test of time

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Book cover of The Love Wars

The Love Wars

By L. Alison Heller

Why this book?

Molly Grant is a divorce attorney at a large Manhattan firm representing wealthy and demanding clients. While the book is entertaining in its descriptions of ridiculous office politics and insufferable clients, what made me fall in love with it was the main character. Molly is sharp and funny, and in the beginning of the book, she seems like the typical associate playing the game to get ahead, putting in the hours and stroking egos while also keeping her head down. But when the ex-wife of a rich, ruthless media mogul seeks help because her husband is alienating her children against…

From the list:

The best chick lit books about lawyers from a former Biglaw attorney

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Book cover of Day of Trinity

Day of Trinity

By Lansing Lamont

Why this book?

Published in 1965 and written by then Washington and foreign correspondent of Time Magazine Lamont, this book remains for me an exceptionally compelling narrative history. The lens here is focused tightly on the events leading up to the first-ever test of an atomic bomb, which was codenamed “Trinity.” Obsessively researched, yes, but it’s Lamont’s writing that makes readers feel as though they are there, in the vastness of the desert, witnessing a happening that changed the world forever.

From the list:

The best books on the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb

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

Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing

By Elissa Altman

Why 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…
From the list:

The best books on the drama, conflict, loyalty, and love of the mother-daughter knot

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Book cover of The Stories of John Cheever

The Stories of John Cheever

By John Cheever

Why this book?

Not only is Cheever’s "The Swimmer" part of the “canon” of literary works about swimming, it’s widely considered one of the greatest works of short fiction. He frames the journey as an Odyssey with all the classical echoes that suggests. The protagonist, Ned Merrill, decides to swim back to his home through the pools of his suburban neighbors, a journey that starts out as a lark and slowly turns into a descent into hell. In truth, the story is less about swimming than suburban life in the 1950s, but it packs a powerful punch.

From the list:

The best books about swimming for people who aren’t competitive swimmers

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Book cover of Zone One

Zone One

By Colson Whitehead

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books about weirdly hopeful dystopias (dys-hopias?)

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Book cover of The Bread Givers

The Bread Givers

By Anzia Yezierska

Why this book?

This historical novel set in the lower East Side, one of my favorites, tells the saga of a gifted young woman, an immigrant, who breaks free from the restricted environment of her Orthodox community to become a school teacher.  Before the word “feminism existed, before women were given the vote, when anti-Semitism was rife in this country, she demanded the right to live a productive and meaningful life. She gave so much to her new country. That is why I love this book. 

From the list:

The best books about why immigrants leave their country of origin and the riches they bring to their new country

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Book cover of New York: Confidential!

New York: Confidential!

By Jack Lait, Lee Mortimer

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on the city at night

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

Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan and Friends

By Ryan Chetiyawardana

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books to improve cocktail making

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Book cover of Free Food for Millionaires

Free Food for Millionaires

By Min Jin Lee

Why this book?

And now the year is 2007, and here’s the big-ass Korean-American book we’ve all been waiting for – Free Food for Millionaires. In baseball terms: while the rest of us first-time novelists choked up our bats and hit our singles and doubles, Min Jin swung for the fences. At the center of the novel is Casey Kim and her quest to find her passion, never mind the consequences of being basically disowned by her parents, but make no mistake: the scope of this book is like that of Casey’s favorite authors, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, and Anthony Trollope.…

From the list:

The best debut novels by Korean American writers

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Book cover of The Horned Man

The Horned Man

By James Lasdun

Why this book?

Such a peculiar book. The Horned Man is not for those who want answers or resolutions. By the time the final page is turned you'll find yourself with more questions than you had at any other point in the book. It takes the Unreliable Narrator device to the extreme, to the point where you don’t really believe anything from the get-go, a unique way to tell a story, but it works here. This book is dark, smart, uncomfortable, and it is unlike anything you'll ever read. Lasdun’s prose is also exceptional, and I’ve often found myself getting lost in his…

From the list:

The best books that leave you questioning identity (and maybe reality, too)

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Book cover of My Name Is Lucy Barton

My Name Is Lucy Barton

By Elizabeth Strout

Why this book?

Sometimes a mother fails. In My Name is Lucy Barton, the title character fled her home because of her abusive father. Although her mother loved Lucy and her siblings, she was unable to protect her children. Many years later when Lucy falls ill and her mother visits her, the two reconnect and develop a shared understanding. Strout addresses the imperfection of a mother while retaining the magnetic pull between mother and daughter. 

From the list:

The best novels about wildly dissimilar mothers and daughters

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Book cover of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

By Russell Shorto

Why this book?

Chronicling the early days of the Dutch presence in Manhattan, New York, the book is full of rich stories from the earliest days of the colony; encounters with wildlife, Indians, and other Europeans. I have read this book three times, captivated by the multi-ethnic beginnings of New York, a characteristic that defines the city even today. Tidbits like how facets of the Dutch language have been incorporated into English, such as the words “boss,” “cole slaw,” and “cookie.” The orange colour in the New York Mets uniform is an homage to Dutch heritage. What if the Dutch had been able…

From the list:

The best books to contemplate for a time

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Book cover of Leave Society

Leave Society

By Tao Lin

Why 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…

From the list:

The best novels of ideas of the last 50 years

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Book cover of Most Eligible Billionaire

Most Eligible Billionaire

By Annika Martin

Why this book?

I love dogs, of course (what am I, a monster?) but I especially love naughty dogs who cause trouble in books. Our heroine, who somehow fell into being a pet psychic medium (don’t ask) has now been named caretaker to the richest Maltese in New York. She is trying to keep Smuckers in fancy dog biscuits while dealing with a very unhappy CEO who makes it his mission to discredit her and take back control of his mother’s estate from the dog. The ultimate opposites attract romance. 

From the list:

The best romantic comedies to make you LOL (and blush) in public

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

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

By William Chapman Sharpe

Why 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. 

From the list:

The best books on the city at night

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Book cover of A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

By Seth Fishman, Isabel Greenberg

Why this book?

What child isn’t curious about the night sky and all the stars that live up there? Did you know that the Sun is a giant star?  This book is full of fun facts, not just about stars but about our planet. It helps to put things into perspective, so to speak. It talks about gravity and how many miles away the moon is from the earth. I think kids will learn a lot from reading this book and will even be able to impress their friends with all of their newly acquired knowledge. Did you know the earth looks green…
From the list:

The best picture books for parents to read to their children

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Book cover of Briefs

Briefs

By John Edgar Wideman

Why this book?

John Edgar Wideman is the first African-American writer I can clearly point to who took microfiction seriously enough to write an entire collection. His stories are filtered through the lens of Blackness, but that is not the major reason why I like this book. Wideman does things with language that force me to completely step back and rethink things. I find myself reading his words aloud, simply because they feel as though they transcend the page. If it were not for Wideman, I would not feel as comfortable revealing the authenticity of my experience in my work.

From the list:

The best collections of microfiction for those with limited time to read

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Book cover of Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed

By Emily Giffin

Why this book?

On her thirtieth birthday, good girl and Manhattan attorney Rachel White sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé. To complicate matters, it’s not just a drunken mistake—Rachel realizes she’s always had feelings for him and learns that he too has feelings for her. With its messy, complicated relationships and deep dive into female friendship, I could not put this book down. This was one of the first “chick lit” novels I read about a single, urban professional woman navigating her career and personal life. And even while I was cringing at some of Rachel’s choices, I admired how honest and flawed…

From the list:

The best chick lit books about lawyers from a former Biglaw attorney

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Book cover of The Last Flight

The Last Flight

By Julie Clark

Why this book?

Motherhood is not a universal woman's experience: some women don't want to be mothers and some women are unable to be mothers. But being disrespected, overlooked, and exploited is a universal woman's experience. I found this to be a gripping book about women trying to break free from those experiences, in tightly intertwined tales.

From the list:

The best books by women about women, beyond romance, motherhood, or emulating men

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Book cover of Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy

Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy

By Joseph Albright, Marcia Kunstel

Why this book?

The story of the youngest physicist at Los Alamos, Ted Hall, who volunteered to spy for the KGB and provided vital atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Although Hall’s treachery was discovered by American counter-intelligence, he was never prosecuted to avoid alerting the Soviets that the United States had decrypted their top-secret WWII cables. Albright and Kunstel tell the story of an idealistic, naïve and arrogant spy.

From the list:

The best books on Soviet espionage

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Book cover of Truman

Truman

By David McCullough

Why this book?

I cannot imagine a book that David McCullough might write that I would not want to read. This impeccably researched and wonderfully intriguing book about President Harry. S. Truman—who was in the White House when the decisions to release the first-ever atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made—gives an intimate and informative look at one of the key figures in both the Manhattan Project and World War II history.

From the list:

The best books on the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb

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Book cover of The Cloister: A Novel

The Cloister: A Novel

By James Carroll

Why this book?

The Cloister: A Novel by James Carroll (Anchor, 2019) is a gripping, magical novel that dramatizes the connections between the medieval and modern worlds. Father James Kavanaugh meets Rachel Vedette at the Cloisters, the famous museum and gallery in upper Manhattan dedicated to the art of the Middle Ages. He is a parish priest with doubts and worries; she is a Holocaust survivor; and their relationship brilliantly conjures up the forbidden love affair between the medieval philosopher and “rock star,” Peter Abelard, and Heloise, an immensely talented nun. James Carroll, a former priest, is also the author of Constantine’s Sword…

From the list:

The best books about religion, learning, love, and science in the Middle Ages

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Book cover of Horrorstör

Horrorstör

By Grady Hendrix

Why this book?

Is it weird to call a creepy horror tale hilarious? Because it kind of is. A clever and fast-paced read unraveling the mystery of the three employees who volunteer to work a dusk to dawn shift and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.  Basically, it’s like if Ikea was haunted during a lock-in. And Grady Hendrix does horror in such an amazing way it’s a gateway to his other books, like The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, which is also very good.
From the list:

The best books that will creep you out in the best possible way

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Book cover of Bourbon is My Comfort Food: The Bourbon Women Guide to Fantastic Cocktails at Home

Bourbon is My Comfort Food: The Bourbon Women Guide to Fantastic Cocktails at Home

By Heather Wibbels

Why this book?

When I want answers to my cocktail questions, I turn to Heather Wibbels, aka The Cocktail Contessa. What exactly is a “dash,” the least precise of ingredient measurements? Wibbels has worked out that eight drops equal a dash. No more over-bittered Manhattans! Her passion for cocktail making started when she joined the Bourbon Women Association, a group promoting the culture and enjoyment of American whiskey. After winning BW’s Not-Your-Pink-Drink cocktail contest three years in a row and being made the contest’s head judge, she was obviously the perfect person to write this cocktail manual and compilation of hers and other…

From the list:

The best cocktail books from a bourbon/whiskey expert

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Book cover of A Year Down Yonder

A Year Down Yonder

By Richard Peck

Why 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…

From the list:

The best middle grade novels featuring a character in a unique or unexpected living situation

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Book cover of The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

By Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Why this book?

Great art and literature liberates – from whatever ties that are constricting you. And it can be found anywhere. As a kid, Marvel comics rescued me from what I saw as a banal existence. And Spider-man was the first. It literally changed my life because I ended up working for Marvel, writing for them, and coming up with Earth 616, which in the Marvel multiverse is the one where all the stories including the movies take place.

Reading them, my mind was totally blown away. What was the secret of their haunting magic? 

To my young mind, it seemed as…

From the list:

The best books that changed my life

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Book cover of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out

High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out

By Amanda Ripley

Why this book?

Amanda Ripley is a smart journalist and exquisite writer who knows how to weave a compelling tale. She spent several years studying mediation and conflict resolution, and visiting conflict research labs like mine at Columbia and Jon Haidt’s at NYU, in order to offer this informed, accessible book. Amanda is able to easily communicate the problem of what she calls “high conflict”, the opposite of “good conflict”, and steps we all can take to decrease the worst forms of these in our life. An excellent and useful book.

From the list:

The best books on navigating seemingly impossible conflicts

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Book cover of An Heiress to Remember: The Gilded Age Girls Club

An Heiress to Remember: The Gilded Age Girls Club

By Maya Rodale

Why this book?

Maya Rodale always writes strong, clever heroines, and this book features one of her very best. Beatrice Goodwin has been tossed around by life, but she’s come home to her first love: Goodwin’s, her family’s once-fashionable department store in Gilded Age New York City. The one person standing in the way of her plans to make it the finest store in New York… her other first love, Wes Dalton, whose heart she broke years ago. He wants revenge. She wants her store. They’re both smart, funny, and oh so good at their shared profession, you know they’ll be unstoppable together.

From the list:

The best historical romances starring independent women

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Book cover of Beautiful Bad

Beautiful Bad

By Annie Ward

Why 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. 

From the list:

The best books which feature transport

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Book cover of Act of Fear: A Dan Fortune Mystery

Act of Fear: A Dan Fortune Mystery

By Michael Collins

Why this book?

Book One of the Dan Fortune series. In my opinion, Michael Collins never received the popularity he deserved, most likely because he was determined to write the truth about social and political issues and publishers are a timid gang. I think of Dennis Lynds (aka Michael Collins) as an old-fashioned liberal who leaned socialist whenever socialism was called for. I suspect he would’ve favored Bernie Sanders. And beyond all that, he was a masterful storyteller. What’s more, who can fail to love a one-armed PI?

From the list:

The best 20th century PI novels

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Book cover of The Naked and the Dead: With a New Introduction by the Author

The Naked and the Dead: With a New Introduction by the Author

By Norman Mailer

Why this book?

This is a fictionalized account of Mailer’s WWII experience during the amphibious invasion of a Japanese-held Island and shows the courage and cowardice of men in war. I decided to read this after meeting Mailer at my cousin Jack Gelber’s Manhattan Apartment in 1966. Upon learning that I had received a battlefield commission in Vietnam, Mailer, who was drunk, called me a baby killer, jerked me from a chair, and assumed a boxer’s stance, meanwhile challenging me to fight him. He was unceremoniously shoved into his overcoat and out the door. But the man could write

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The best books to safely satisfy your lust for action and mystery

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Book cover of Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell

By John Preston

Why this book?

The best true crime books are similar to any good biography, in that they are crafted, powerfully-researched lives of unusual people. With true crime, the life of the subject usually goes awry, however, by degrees from childhood, culminating in disaster, which affects others. Crime takes different forms. This gripping book charts the downfall of the brilliant but unscrupulous media baron Robert Maxwell, ending in his mysterious death in 1991. Had he lived, he may well have gone to jail, like his daughter, Ghislaine. Author John Peston has an eye for grotesques and a nice sense of humour. 

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Book cover of Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

By Jennifer Egan

Why this book?

Mystery, intrigue, and an exploration of the dark underbelly of a community kept me turning the pages of Manhattan Beach. There aren’t many books written from the point of view of a woman working in a man’s world on the World War Two home front, and Egan paints an intimate portrait that puts the reader inside her protagonist’s head from the first page. A fascinating, detailed account wrapped in a compelling narrative.

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

Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York

By Francis Spufford

Why 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.   

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Book cover of The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities

By Tom Wolfe

Why this book?

Wolf did an amazing job at describing the type of personality disorder that is all too common on Wall Street. It’s a deeply troubling story in itself, but even more so on a broader scale, where individuals such as Sherman McCoy are ubiquitous in leadership positions, and their behavior rewarded and encouraged. A hard-hitting insight into wealth, privilege, and the people it creates.

Don’t make the mistake of watching the sub-par film based on this novel, with the severely miscast Tom Hanks. 

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Book cover of Hex: A Ruby Murphy Mystery

Hex: A Ruby Murphy Mystery

By Maggie Estep

Why this book?

Few people in the world could render with so much humanity the backstreet stories of Coney Island and Belmont Race Track as Estep has in “Hex.” As main character/narrator Ruby navigates the down and out animals and humans of her neighborhood, we are made privy to the power of kindness and friendship in a carnivalesque world that continually threatens to fall into shambles. As a lifelong rider and trainer myself, I have often been struck by the proximity of extremes in the horse world. Estep’s revelations of a dark and pithy world, shot through with the dreams and aspirations of…

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