Books are always my first choice when I need to escape. It’s particularly relevant at the moment but even when everything is normal, books are the best way to discover somewhere new or revisit a place that you love. So, I thought it might be nice to share books set in different places as inspiration. We can all go on holiday together then! (Maybe not, I mean – we’ve just met.) First off, let’s go somewhere fun and fast-paced. It’s got to be New York, the city that never sleeps.

It was pretty hard to whittle it down so I thought I’d do a bit of a mix. Here are 5 books set in New York City that I think you should read.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

A recent read of mine that I really enjoyed. Glitz? Check. Glamour? Check. Wayward showgirls getting up to no good all over New York? CHECK! Set in the 1940s, City of Girls follows the story of Vivian who moves to the city as a young girl and how much her life changes. It’s a beautiful demonstration of the many faces the city has, especially during the war, and how it impacts everyone who lives there.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara

The opposite of little in real life, this hefty book has stayed with me ever since I read it. In a nutshell, it’s about four graduates who move to New York to follow their careers. JB, Malcolm, Willem and Jude all become incredibly successful in their fields and over the years their relationships deepen. At the centre of the tale is Jude, a broken man with horrifying secrets in his childhood and trauma that has never left him. This book is devastating and you will need consoling during and after, but honestly, it’s worth it.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

For pure fun and frivolity, it had to be this. Andrea wants to be a journalist and will do anything to reach her goal. But be careful what you wish for, right? Andrea takes a job at Runway (a world-famous fashion magazine) for Miranda Priestly (a world-famous boss from hell) – both of which she’s never heard of. Plunged into a job where the height of your heels is mandated and you worry more about your boss’ happiness than your boyfriend, Andrea wonders if it’s worth it after all.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Here’s one that I’m adding to my reading list! When I was doing some research for this piece, I wanted to find a book that I could recommend to myself. After meeting a long-lost friend, August is reminiscing on her memories of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s. She shared secrets with her closest friends Sylvia, Angela and Gigi and their friendship was everything. The girls hold each other up as they navigate a world where mothers disappear and dangerous men are in the hallways and streets. I think this sounds like a brilliant story and it’s on my list to order.

Lilian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

A book that I randomly bought a few years back in Daunt Books based purely on the cover and it was such a delightful find! Lilian Boxfish has lived a hell of a life. Back in the 1930s, she was a rising star writing copy for Macy’s, going on to become the highest-paid woman in advertising. Now it’s 1984, and at 85 years old, Lilian is looking back on her life. Wrapped in her mink coat, she walks for miles across New York, telling her story through the people she meets. An ode to city life that is both nostalgic and fresh, I loved spending time in Lilian’s shoes.

Pin this list for later!


  1. avatar

    Wonderful list. I love books set in NY – (this is my list, for example, – I particularly loved A Little Life on your list. It was harrowing, but so well-written and it is such an important story to tell as well. I will have to check out Another Brooklyn by Woodson – sounds like a very good read too.

    1. avatar

      Amazing, I will check out your list. I couldn’t agree more about A Little Life. Whenever I see someone is starting it, I almost want to give them a warning.

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