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City Unlisted, Original Work

49 Essential New York Books

Much like beautiful women’s lengthy history of giving artists impetus to put brush to canvas, so too has New York, in all her gritty glory, provided inspiration for authors to put pen to paper. Whether it’s bloodstained prose about the life of the city’s most notorious criminals or a simple story of a girl getting terribly bored at The Plaza, there is no city that is all at once such a worthy friend, adversary, and paramour, as New York.

49. Junkie (William S. Burroughs)

48. The Basketball Diaries (Jim Carroll)

47. Call it Sleep (Henry Roth)

46. Five Points: The 19th-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum (Tyler Anbinder)

45. The Fortress of Solitude (Jonathan Lethem)

44. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)

43. Poet in New York (Federico García Lorca)

42. The Gangs of New York (Herbert Asbury)

41. The New York Trilogy (Paul Auster)

40. The Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe)

39. The Saturdays (Elizabeth Enright)

38. Franny and Zooey (J.D. Salinger)

37. Bright Lights, Big City (Jay McInerney)

36. The Big Clock (Kenneth Fearing)

35. Time and Again (Jack Finney)

34. Eloise (Kay Thompson)

33. The Godfather (Mario Puzo)

32. The Dark Tower Series (Stephen King)

31. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Judith Rossner)

30. The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)

29. The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City (Jennifer Toth)

28. The Bridge (Hart Crane)

27. American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis)

26. The Cricket in Times Square (George Selden)

25. Bringing Out the Dead (Joe Connelly)

24. Sex and the City (Candace Bushnell)

23. Motherless Brooklyn (Jonathan Lethem)

22. American Trilogy (Kenneth Goldsmith)

21. The First Wives Club (Olivia Goldsmith)

20. Another Country (James Baldwin)

19. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)

18. Wiseguy (Nicholas Pileggi)

17. The Devil Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger)

16. The Stand (Stephen King)

15. Jazz (Toni Morrison)

14. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote)

13. Tropic of Capricorn (Henry Miller)

12. The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)

11. Underworld (Don DeLillo)

10. Last Exit to Brooklyn (Hubert Selby, Jr.)

9. Washington Square (Henry James)

8. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)

7. The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton)

6. Winter’s Tale (Mark Helprin)

5. Watchmen (Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)

4. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

3. Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)

2. Harriet the Spy (Louise Fitzhugh)

1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Michael Chabon)

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About Sarah Crow

Writer, natural redhead, semi-professional napper.

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