16 books directly related to reenwich Village 📚

All 16 reenwich Village books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

The Story of Harold

By Terry Andrews, Edward Gorey (illustrator),

Book cover of The Story of Harold

Why this book?

Are you prepared to read a novel that might challenge your perspective on sexual practices generally considered perverse and perilous? The narrator of this touching fictional autobiography is Terry Andrews, a compassionate, witty, and wildly promiscuous children’s book author and resident of pre-AIDS Greenwich Village. Unfortunately for him, he discovers that he is most drawn to what he cannot have – a family and kids. His attraction to down-and-out misfits and sadomasochism seems to rule that out until he falls in love with a married father of six. When that relationship comes undone, however, Terry slides into suicidal depression. Even so, his narration remains charged with magical exuberance and black humor. Is it a scandalous work? Definitely! Dangerous? Probably. Worth reading? You decide…  


High Maintenance

By Jennifer Belle,

Book cover of High Maintenance

Why this book?

Let me start by saying I adore every book by bestselling author Jennifer Belle, from her debut, Going Down, to her latest, The Seven-Year Bitch. Belle is witty, wonderful, and truly New York, New York. Here I will discuss High Maintenance, her top-of-the-charts, five-star love story between a woman—and an apartment. Protagonist Liv Kellerman is engrossing. Upon leaving her husband and a fabulous penthouse, Liv relocates to a hovel in Greenwich Village that is certainly from the “beat” generation. In her efforts to be top floor again, she becomes a realtor in the cutthroat Manhattan market. You won’t want to put this one down.


Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy

By Leslie Brody,

Book cover of Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy

Why this book?

As a native New Yorker and lifelong fan of Harriet the Spy (one among legions) reading the product of Leslie Brody’s detective work into the life of her creator is a special pleasure. Born in 1928, Fitzhugh was the product of a high society Memphis marriage that ended in scandal. She went on to live a vibrant, turbulent life in the queer artist and writers scene in New York. It makes total sense that someone who straddled so many different worlds had such a deep understanding of the multiple lives we all lead, and such a keen ability to perceive other people, all of which she poured into her characters. I also recommend her other incredible YA novel, Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change, which tackles race, children’s rights, and the profound beauty of tap dancing.


My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement

By Alix Dobkin,

Book cover of My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement

Why this book?

The child of Communist parents, Alix would grow up to be one of the most profound movers and shakers of the lesbian music movement, producing the first full-length lesbian album, Lavender Jane Loves Women, in 1973. But this memoir is a series of chapters on her early years growing up in the 1950s with progressive activists and folk club life, embarking on her own career in the folk circuit, singing against the backdrop of repressive politics, and coming into the women’s movement as a married mother about to fall in love with another woman.


Downtown

By Michael Musto,

Book cover of Downtown

Why this book?

Once again, personal history meets drink history with this book about nightclubbing in New York’s Greenwich Village during the 1980s. Musto escorts readers through the hotspots that made Manhattan’s nightlife tingle and zing. Fuelled on vodka, vodka, and a side of whiskey and beer, Musto races through the Cat Club, Area, Limelight, Max’s Kansas City, Mudd Club, CBGB’s, Indochine, and other hideouts that kept the pre-cocktail revival night culture alive and kicking. 


Hellhole

By Sara Harris,

Book cover of Hellhole

Why this book?

This book spares no punches, diving straight into the chaos that was the Women’s House of Detention in NYC’s Greenwich Village, aka The Hellhole in the 60s and 70s. First-person narratives and choice juicy details make the lives of the women come alive, from their annual fashion show to their cellblock politics and pink-painted bars. All too often, dispatches like this lack color and clarity, but this unfiltered take is far more gripping, and avoids stereotypes. We meet a wide range of people, scarred sex workers who refuse plastic surgery as “it’s too late for them,” pregnant teens who dreamt of hair salon careers, and substance abusers who cycled in and out, multiple times.

Despite being forced to live in rat-infested slum-like conditions, with shoddy medical care, many of the women remained spirited, even upbeat. But their continued struggle to maintain their sense of identity and femininity, despite minimal resources, is all too easy to relate to. Throwaway comments about how, even imprisoned, they’re expected to maintain a certain level of grooming and makeup show how pervasive sexists and cultural norms about appearance can be, even when locked within the justice system.


This Is New York

By Miroslav Sasek,

Book cover of This Is New York

Why this book?

Anyone who is curious about other cities and cultures will love the complete series of the This Is… books by Miroslav Sasek. They are filled with exciting facts and the colorful illustrations are truly delightful. From New York, to London, to Hong Kong, and many more, these books will inspire you to travel the world!


The Splendid Things We Planned - A Family Portrait

By Blake Bailey,

Book cover of The Splendid Things We Planned - A Family Portrait

Why this book?

No one wants to know a troubled, addicted family member isn't going to beat their demons. But knowing the ending at the beginning makes reading this difficult story possible. Bailey tells a relatable story that breaks down his brother's struggles and their effect upon the family in a way that those of us who share similar stories can relate to. The reader can see how and where things went wrong with Blake's brother Scott, while recognizing that there wasn't anything anyone could have done to prevent the ending.


MacDoodle St.

By Mark Alan Stamaty,

Book cover of MacDoodle St.

Why this book?

My curveball choice. In the late 1970s, Stamaty drew a brilliant, phantasmagoric, visually dense comic strip for The Village Voice that captured the chaos, charm, and entropic scuzziness of Manhattan in that era. His protagonist, a bearded nerd named Malcolm Frazzle, travels on a very funny Joseph Campbell-like hero’s journey that involves a talking cow, the Zen of dishwashing, and overpacked subway cars. I’ve spent the last 40 years revisiting this compendium of Stamaty’s strips, whose every page is a loony, trippy world to fall into.


Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry

By Soyica Diggs Colbert,

Book cover of Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry

Why this book?

I’ve taught Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun many times in my university courses. That play transformed African American theater in the Civil Rights era and marked a phenomenal debut for its 29-year-old writer. In her too-short life (she died a few years later from pancreatic cancer), Hansberry built an extraordinary life as a writer, intellectual, and political activist. This biography tells that rich, remarkable story.


Under the Egg

By Laura Marx Fitzgerald,

Book cover of Under the Egg

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.


The Secret Life of Violet Grant

By Beatriz Williams,

Book cover of The Secret Life of Violet Grant

Why this book?

Williams is another of my absolute favorite authors. I love anything she writes, but I chose to showcase the Schuler Sisters series because, again, it consists of an overarching saga with some fantastic mystery elements. Williams’ strength is that she is able to place the reader directly in the scene with her perfect attention to detail without overdoing it. She expertly weaves multiple storylines in different eras to produce one delicious book.  


Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories about Jenny Linsky

By Esther Averill,

Book cover of Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories about Jenny Linsky

Why this book?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the main character (and in fact most of the characters) in this book is a cat it’s only for very young readers. This charming and elegant story, the first of a series, takes place in Greenwich Village, where a small black orphaned cat named Jenny finds a home with a sea captain and a community with her neighborhood felines. Jenny’s explorations of the then-dicey neighborhood and encounters with less fortunate cats are ridiculously poignant and moving, and her foot-high view of her city feels entirely authentic.  


Cry, Heart, But Never Break

By Glenn Ringtved, Charlotte Pardi (illustrator), Robert Moulthrop (translator)

Book cover of Cry, Heart, But Never Break

Why this book?

A book for children and adults translated from Swedish. A poignant story of four children who try to trick death into not taking their ill grandmother. The children think that Death only takes people at night, and that by refilling his coffee, Death will leave in the morning. By the fourth attempt at a refill, Death puts his hand over the cup. The children go upstairs and see that their grandmother has died, and Death, standing by the window says to them, “Cry, heart, but never break.” 

The book inspired some of the material for chapter five that a heart can break metaphorically, and in rare instances, physically. “Broken Heart Syndrome” can happen when extreme distress is experienced by the bereaved after a loved one dies. Also called “Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy,” this is a medical condition that is rare and usually resolves within a matter of weeks without any long-term damage.


Jenny's Birthday Book

By Esther Averill,

Book cover of Jenny's Birthday Book

Why this book?

This is an endearing book with soothingly simple charm. It is a tale of a shy cat celebrating her birthday with a gang of cat friends set in 1950s Greenwich Village. In this quiet book, the sublime high point of action is a double page spread of the cat celebrants earnestly dancing “The Sailor’s Hornpipe” in a moonlit Washington Square Park.


To Paradise

By Hanya Yanagihara,

Book cover of To Paradise

Why this book?

The novel is set in three end-of-century time-frames—1893, 1993, and 2093. In the opening, set in a mansion on Washington Square in New York, we discover we’re in an America where same-sex marriage has been legal for a long time, and a young man is about to run off with a suitor his father distrusts (a new version of a Henry James plot). The next section is in Hawaii, the colonized Paradise, where descendant characters (with the same set of names, juggled) stumble and grab what they can of freedom and love. My favorite section is the last, where characters with those recurring names are in a New York of “cooling suits” and “decontamination chambers” and totalitarian rule. This is a wild and really quite brilliant book, whose sprawling parts are fueled by a searing vision.