If you’ve been following for a while, then you know that I read books set in New York City. The book then inspires a fun tour of New York City. I used to blog about dating but now I’ve binned the guys and take myself out on “dates.” Dates that are inspired by awesome books set in New York City. I call them literary dates.
Don’t worry, I haven’t totally stopped dating, but so far those dates haven’t inspired me. So instead of writing about that, I’ll tell you all about these 10 awesome books set in New York City that inspired some cool tours of the city. I read a variety of books, but especially rom-coms, suspense, YA, and historical fiction.
In no particular order, I give you my favorite books set in New York City. I’ll also link to each book’s NYC tour.
You by Caroline Kepnes
I’ll start with You since everyone and their Uncle’s best friend is going bonkers for the show that is now in its second season on Netflix. I loved the first one and I’m sure I’ll like the second season as well. I plan on reading the second book in the series, Hidden Bodies before watching.
So Joe is just your average guy working in a bookstore when someone of the female variety piques his interest. In walks Beck and he’s instantly drawn to her. His interest quickly becomes an obsession as he tries desperately to be a part of her life.
The way Joe rationalizes his every move is so creepy but the thing that makes it most creepy is that you find yourself almost agreeing with his thoughts. He’s also written in a funny and endearing way that you almost root for him until you want to puke for thinking that way just for a second. Or is that just me? I was just kidding. Joe is psycho!
Head over here to check out my tour of New York City inspired by You by Caroline Kepnes:
Sneak peek: Beck’s apartment
You’ll also get to see Joe’s Brooklyn neighborhood, some yummy treats from Levain Bakery that Peach probably visited in secret, a cool NYC street mural, and more! *Keep in mind that this tour is based on the book’s locations, not the television show, although I’m sure it’s similar.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
While YOU was a cautionary tale about being careful about what you put up online, this one is a cautionary tale about what kids can get wrapped up in, unbeknownst to their parents. Reconstructing Amelia is the second book set in New York City that I read for my blog. This book gripped my heart. It’s not a spoiler to know that the book starts with Amelia’s death. She’s a teen living in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her mother, Kate. Kate gets a call to come to the school about Amelia cheating on a paper, which Kate knows is not like her daughter. When Kate arrives, it’s even worse, she gets the devastating news that Amelia had fallen off the roof and died.
The book goes back and forth from the perspectives of Kate and Amelia. Kate is trying to figure out what happened. From Amelia’s perspective, we get taken back in time before it all happened and everything that leads up to that tragic event.
It’s so hard to read with the knowledge of how it will end while getting drawn into the character and getting fully invested in them. We learn how Amelia navigates her life and how one event leads to the next and ultimately to that roof. How does she get up there? This is a beautiful and tragic book. Very well done.
I felt a little funny at first doing a tour of NYC based on this serious read, but I had the author’s approval so that was cool.
Check out my tour of Park Slope, Brooklyn based on Reconstructing Amelia here:
I went to many of the spots mentioned in the book including the yummy Dizzy’s Diner and another spot that had the best hot chocolate ever! I dream of that hot chocolate.
New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan
This book has romance and dogs. If you know me at all then you know that is definitely a winning combo for me. The main character, Molly, has a dog that she regularly walks in Central Park. Daniel sees Molly in the park and to get her attention, he borrows a dog.
Not so honest that Daniel, but when he sees a woman he likes, he’ll stop at nothing to bag her. Yup, he’s a bit of a playboy. Trouble for Daniel is that Molly has sworn off men because she thinks she’s bad news for them. Will Daniel be able to sway her and does he have a heart?
I enjoyed this sweet read. NYC, romance, and dogs…I dig it!
My New York, Actually tour took me on a fun day to Central Park, yummy macarons, and to the top of the Met Museum. Great views of the city up on that rooftop!
A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
A New York Christmas is set in New York City in 1904. Jemima accompanies her friend, Delphinia, to New York who will be marrying into a very prestigious and wealthy family. Delphinia’s mother left her as a child and some are afraid she will show up to ruin the wedding. The groom’s brother enlists Jemima’s help to find Delphinia’s mother to prevent this from happening. Things just spiral out of control from there.
This book reads like an old fashioned whodunnit, it’s a light and fun read. It’s a short book so the pace seems a little quick and the story somewhat underdeveloped. However, it’s a fun murder mystery with a splash of romance. And it’s set in New York City at Christmas time. It inspired my first Christmassy tour of New York.
You’ll see Central Park, dogs dressed up as Santa, and cannolis! Holy Cannoli, they were good!
The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe
Have you ever been ghosted? It’s the worst, am I right? Well, the main character, Wes, totally gets ghosted in an unimaginable way. Poor guy!
Wes is a film student at NYU helping out his buddy film a séance when he runs into a captivating girl who he’s desperate to find. One, because his buddy needs a signed photo consent form from her and two because well, he’s a young guy interested in this captivating girl. This girl, Annie, proves difficult to find.
Perhaps it’s because she’s from 1825? So yeah, their relationship defines, “It’s complicated.” Somehow though Annie finds herself in present-day New York City so she and Wes are able to connect. What could she be doing there? Unfinished business?
I thought this was such a cool, mysterious book. This is another book where we get to read from two characters’ perspectives. Wes and Annie both make for a compelling read. Shall I say I was spell-bounded? Yes, I shall. This YA book was another awesome read!
It inspired a cool tour in the East Village.
Check it out!
Here’s some inspirational street art I saw during my Annie Van tour
I went to Wes’ neighborhood, a Hare Krishna festival at Washington Square Park, and the home that was the inspiration for Annie Van’s house, The Merchant’s House.
Roomies by Christina Lauren
Author duo Christina Lauren wrote this cute rom-com about the female protagonist, Holland, who has a long-running crush on an Irish subway busker named Calvin. His talent and good looks have her hooked. Her crush rises to new levels when she lands him a job on her Uncle’s Broadway show, which is the hottest ticket in town. The only glitch is that he’s overstayed his visa while living in the U.S. so he can’t legally work. Holland finds an easy enough solution- she marries the guy! He lives his dream and she’s a lot closer to her crush. As over the top, as that situation sounds, I think they navigated their unorthodox marriage in a very rational and level-headed way. Of course, we’re all dying for them to fall in love. Does this marriage of convenience lead to true love? I definitely recommend this fun, romantic read.
Roomies inspired such a fun tour of the city. Now I have my very own cute subway busker to stalk…I mean…to appreciate his beautiful talent. Also, I got to see an incredible Broadway show, starring Loki aka Tom Hiddleston. Then, I almost got robbed by Cookie Monster. A very terrifying situation. *Shudders*
I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk
I was totally jealous of the main character Angela in this one. She flees to New York City from London after finding her fiancé cheating on her (not jealous of that part) and within a week, she’s got two good looking guys after her (jealous!). I’ve been in NYC a long time and let me tell you, dating in NYC is hard! Angela, how did you do it? It’s got to be the British accent.
Angela finds her way through the city and finds herself again in the process as she heals from her heartbreak. It’s fun to follow along in her journey as she navigates her new life, dates two hotties, makes new friends, and finds career inspiration. Definitely a fun and romantic read. I totally had a book crush on Alex, the adorable musician she dated.
This tour was a blast. I got inspired on a visit to the MoMA, I ate some yummy chocolate at Max Brenner’s, and I took a ride on the SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Dash stumbles upon a red notebook at the Strand Book Store in New York City and inside it starts Dash and Lily’s “book of dares.” They leave the book for the other to retrieve in various locations throughout the city and send each other on different challenges. They also write to one another through the notebook and form a close bond. It reminds me of online dating when you build a rapport via texting and messages. The ultimate question is will this connection translate in real life? Will Dash and Lily meet in real life and what will their connection be?
This book is set in Christmas time in NYC and again, the story unfolds between Dash and Lily’s point of view. I really enjoyed this read. I thought the characters were endearing and clever. They took us on fun ride through New York City.
It inspired my second Christmassy tour of New York City.
I went to the Strand Bookstore, ate some yummy vegan food at Peacefood Cafe, and saw Christmas lights galore!
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Modern Lovers is about a close group of friends who had a band together during their college days. Most of the friends live in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn and they are still friends and have teenage kids of their own. The friends navigate their adult life and are kind of haunted by the one friend who broke out on her own, rose to fame, but fell hard. Part of the story centers on a film about her life. The friends have life struggles- aging, marriage trouble, raising teenagers, navigating their careers…it gives a realistic and honest portrayal of how hard adulting can be.
Prior to reading this book I had read some negative reviews, so I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t share the same experience. I got invested in each of these characters and loved the teen daughter, Zoe’s badass personality.
The setting is as much of a character as the rest of the characters. Ditmas Park in Brooklyn is like no other area in the city. It is a sleepy town filled with Victorian homes and beautiful sweeping, tree-lined streets. The first time I stepped foot in this neighborhood, after the noisy, hectic vibe of Manhattan, I felt instant relaxation. Birds are chirping in this neighborhood, squirrels scurry past, and cute neighborhood cats sleep in the sun.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson
I love Audrey Hepburn and this was such a fascinating book. Sam Wasson takes us behind the scenes of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We get to read about it from all the angles- Truman Capote, the producers, writers, actors, everything! We meet Audrey at the start of her career and see her path to her iconic role. Also get to learn about the women who inspired Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly and then we follow along his path as well. We learn fun little tidbits like what a diva George Peppard was, how Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for Holly Golightly, and Audrey’s insecurities about playing Holly.
This NYC tour will always be special to me because it was my first ever literary date in the city. On this tour is how I got the idea to read books set in New York City and then use them to inspire a fun tour of the city. I’ve been exploring the city one book at a time. After living in NYC almost 15 years, it’s because of this blog that I’ve gotten a newfound appreciation of the city. I love that the books have encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and explore. Books inspire us in many ways. How have they inspired you?
I ate yummy pastries, had a rainy adventure in Central Park, and found this cute Audrey-inspired, little black dress.
Bonus: Practically Neighbors by Sarah Smith
This is not a book but a short story series written by Sarah Smith on her blog Sarah Writes Smut.
Practically Neighbors starts with Ava who decides to stop waiting around for a guy to get back to her and instead, starts swiping on a dating app. If you’re a single woman in today’s dating age, then you’ve been there for sure. I know I have! Well, Ava stumbles upon hunky Harker who sounds absolutely perfect. He bakes and he fosters dogs. They share a lovely back and forth where he continues to sound perfect and then soon enough the steam starts. It gets HOT. I love how relatable Sarah’s characters are and then all of a sudden they get into this fantasy world that makes you blush and beg for more!
This series is very special because Sarah wrote it so that I could go on a NYC tour with something she wrote. Sarah wrote it in the neighborhood of my choice so it’s set in Boerum HIll, Brooklyn. I lived there for 8 years and loved it.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought an author would write something for me. Amazing!
Sarah also has her awesome debut novel, Faker, out right now.
That’s all folks!
These books set in New York City have made for some amazing literary dates. I’m looking forward to many more! My current read and next literary date will be a historical fiction, Dear George, Dear Mary by Mary Calvi. It explores the love between George Washington and his first love. I’m excited to read it! I will probably wait for decent weather before I go on this literary date. I also think it will be at least a two day tour. Fun fun!
In the meantime, I’m also reading A Booklover’s Guide to New York by Cleo Le-Tan. The plan is to visit literary sites of NYC that are discussed in this book. I’m excited to fully immerse myself in the literary culture of New York City. So much to explore!
I hope you all enjoyed my list of ten awesome books set in New York City. Will you be checking out any of these books? Thank you for reading!
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