If you love reading and you love New York City, you will have endless options of books set in New York City to choose from.
New York City is a great literary landscape to tell a tale from. Hordes of people want to visit, many imagine living here, so it makes perfect sense why writers set their stories in this incredible concrete jungle.
With a vast array to choose from, no doubt, you will find awesome books set in New York City to match your favorite genre. I love romcoms, YA, women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction, just to name a few. I’ll share my favorite NYC books in this post, which will surely give you something fabulous to read.
I have been living in NYC for over 15 years now and blogging for a few years now. My specialty is reading books set in New York City and using the book as inspiration for a fun tour of the city. I call these tours, “literary dates.”
Many of the books I will share with you have also inspired literary dates in the city. I’ll be sure to point out which ones. I will break this post up into genres so feel free to skip to your favorite one. I also plan to continue to update this post as I read more books set in New York City.
*Indicates gifted books in exchange for a fair and honest review. Updated March 2022.
My Favorite Books Set in New York City
Romance and Rom-Com NYC Books
I love romance and comedy, so rom-com books are one of my favorite genres to read. I also love a good old-fashioned, spicy romance too along with sweeping romances.
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 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 on her journey as she navigates her new life, dates two hotties, makes new friends, and finds career inspiration.
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
With this incredible book, you have to make sure you notice the tagline on the cover page, “This is a love story but not the love story you’re expecting.”
Dannie’s whole life is planned out, she knows what prestigious law firm in New York she will work at, she knows when she will get engaged, and she knows exactly which exclusive Manhattan neighborhood she will live in.
On the night of her proposal, Dannie happily falls asleep in perfect bliss and then wait for it…she wakes up in five years in the arms of another man. Crazy!
Dannie wakes back up in her own timeline and is left to wonder what the heck just happened?
I absolutely loved this book and even though the love story wasn’t what I was expecting, I thought it was beautiful. Might need some tissues.
*In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer
This book hooked me from the start and had me laughing out loud! It has an EPIC meet-cute in the subway when Franny, after just being sacked from her job, gets her dress caught in the train doors. Yikes!
Luckily a gent named Hayes comes to her rescue with his Gucci suit jacket, no less. To add insult to injury, to Franny’s horror and our enjoyment, this moment becomes a viral sensation as #SubwayQTs
From there, Franny tries to get her life back on track as an interior designer, and luckily for us readers, continues to have run-ins with Hayes all around New York.
Franny also has the best girlfriends ever who are always there for her with love and bagels.
Check out my full book review and what a literary date would look like in my In a New York Minute Literary Date Book Review.
Ghosting: A Love Story by Tash Skilton
This author duo created a fun, enemies to lovers, Cyrano-esque romcom that is adorable, clever, and an all-around good time.
Zoey is a writer from LA sent to New York by her old boss to hone her skills. Poor Zoey though has so many anxieties about living in the city that she never goes beyond the cafe across the street from her place.
Miles has just been dumped by his fiance, has to downsize by couch surfing, and work out of the same cafe to make ends meet. Miles and Zoey fight for the same coveted table and day-old bargain biscotti. The competition for the table is on!
Unbeknownst to each other, they both work as ghostwriters for competing dating sites. They pose online as their clients in the hopes to get them to that first date and find love. Turns out Miles and Zoey interact with each other online posing as their clients and the sparks fly!
This book was a blast to read, the witty banter and fun story had me hooked.
This is Your Life by Jennifer Ann Shore
This NYC modern romance book had me living out my teenage fantasies of meeting a celebrity and having him fall in love with me. Was that just me?
Julianna, like many new New Yorkers, is not able to find her dream job so does what many of us do and nannies for some wealthy, uppity family. Nannying is a New York City rite of passage.
She has an accidental run-in with Gabe King, the hottest celeb around. Of course, he thinks she’s some stalker-type but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
With the help of his sister, they get a second chance to get things right, and the romance that blossoms is every celeb-loving female’s dream. I read this book so fast and a bonus for me is that it includes an adorable dog.
The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
This NYC book is an epic love story that takes place over decades and continents. With this book, you need to know someone who has read it because it needs to be discussed. It’s a great book for a book club.
Lucy tells the story of how she met Gabe in a style like she’s talking to someone and that is how their entire love story is told. They met by chance on a fateful day which impacted both of them tremendously. Life brings them together again.
Young love but can it last? Gabe doesn’t think so when he gets a job as a photojournalist in the Middle East while Lucy continues her career in New York. They still stay in each other’s hearts through the next thirteen years of their lives despite being continents apart.
This is one of those books that will have you turning the pages. There are clues sprinkled throughout the book and it’s a doozy of an ending.
New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan
Give me all the NYC books with 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.
The 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?
If you like books set in New York City that are sweet and fluffy then this is the book for you. New York, romance, and dogs…I dig it!
Lost, Found, and Forever by Victoria Schade
Another dog book! I can read books with dogs all day, what about you? In this one, Justine has the most adorable trickster of a dog, Spencer. This dog knows all the tricks and even gets cast in a Hollywood movie!
Before Justine can celebrate their good fortune, however, she discovers that some guy used to own Spencer before she rescued him. He has the paperwork to prove it too. Ruh-roh!
What a nightmare!
I don’t care that Griffin has one of those names where you know he is going to be good-looking. Forget his charm! Although, he does seem like a sweet guy who maybe Justine could fall for unless he’s trying to pull one over on her.
This book was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it the whole way through!
Roomies by Christina Lauren
Author duo Christina Lauren wrote this cute rom-com where the female protagonist, Holland, has a long-running crush on an Irish subway busker named Calvin. His talent and good looks have her hooked. Then 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 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 the New York 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. I definitely recommend this fun, romantic read.
Suspense Books Set in New York City
You by Caroline Kepnes
I’ll start with You for suspense books since everyone and their Uncle’s best friend has gone bonkers for this show on Netflix.
Joe is just your average guy working in a bookstore in New York when in walks beautiful Beck and in an instant, he falls for 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 more creepy is that you find yourself almost agreeing with his thoughts. Joe is funny and kind of endearing that you almost root for him until you want to puke for thinking that way just for a second.
Head over here to check out my tour of New York City inspired by You by Caroline Kepnes:
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
While YOU was a cautionary tale about being careful about what you put up online, Reconstructing Amelia is a cautionary tale about what kids can get wrapped up in, unbeknownst to their parents.
This NYC book gripped my heart. It’s not a spoiler to know that the book starts with Amelia’s tragic death.
One day, Amelia’s mom, Kate gets a call to come to the school about Amelia cheating on a paper, which she 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.
This is a beautiful and tragic book set in New York City. Very well done.
Check out my tour of Park Slope, Brooklyn based on this NYC book:
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
When No One Is Watching is set in a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is gentrifying in the most terrifying way. The longtime Black residents keep disappearing as new white residents move in. It’s just as creepy as the movie Get Out.
Sydney has moved back to her old neighborhood in Brooklyn and has noticed all the changes and is frustrated by them. To tell the true story of her beloved neighborhood, she decides to create her own walking tour and gets help from Theo, one of her new neighbors.
As they research the history of the neighborhood, what they uncover sends them down a rabbit hole and things get cray. Did Sydney’s old neighbors move out or was it something more sinister? The more they uncover, the more Sydney doesn’t know who she can trust and the fear and the unknown grip her.
This book is creepy, sad, and if you’re looking for books set in New York City that will keep you turning the pages, this is it.
*Stay Awake by Megan Goldin
In Stay Awake Liv Reese forgets everything every time she wakes up, she finds weird messages scribbled on her hands that she struggles to decipher. Two years ago, she had a boyfriend, a best friend, and a dream job. Now she’s wandering around New York City aimlessly as she tries to figure out what the hell is going on.
Making matters exponentially worse, she wakes up with a bloody knife in her back pocket with the words “Stay Awake” written on her, the same message she sees on the news where a murder just happened. What did she do last night? She can’t remember anything that didn’t happen two years ago.
All of a sudden, it seems like she could be the prime suspect for a crime she knows nothing about. And someone could be out there that doesn’t want her to remember, someone who might want her dead.
This book is reminiscent of the 2000 Christopher Nolan movie Memento and it will have you whipping through the pages fast as you try to piece everything together along with Liv and the detectives trying to figure it all out.
Buy the Book: Amazon
YA Books Set in New York City
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.
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.
I thought this was such a cool, mysterious book. This is another book where we get to read from two characters’ perspectives with Wes and Annie.
I was spell-bounded by this book. This YA book is another one of the best books set in New York City!
And it inspired a cool tour in the East Village.
Here’s some inspirational street art I saw during my Annie Van tour
Buy the Book: Amazon
This is an amazing compilation of interconnected short stories of young love during a blackout in New York City. I can’t help to start out with how much I loved these stories.
The brilliant, award-winning Black authors tell the stories of these Black teens as they navigate the complicated feelings they have in regards to love, heartbreak, second chances, new love, and new possibilities. All against the backdrop of a heatwave in New York City during a blackout.
You will fall in love with these characters and stories. Trust me on this. Just read it. Author Dhonielle Clayton brought together authors Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfold, and Nicola Yoon to bring these beautiful stories to life.
*Everywhere, Always by Jennifer Ann Shore
Avery’s world is turned upside down when her mom tragically dies in a car accident and Avery is left to start a new life in New York City with a brand new family. A family that fully embraces her including her overly enthusiastic brother and lovely stepmom in addition to her loving dad. The cherry on the top is a very cute neighbor who loves quoting Shakespeare.
This book takes an honest look at grief, love, and friendships. I found it refreshing how Avery’s new family embraced her and enjoyed that there was no drama there, just pure love. This story gives an honest depiction of a young girl faced with an unimaginable loss and taking it day by day.
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 as he reads it, this starts Dash and Lily’s “book of dares.” Dash and Lily 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.
This NYC book is set at Christmas time and the story unfolds between both Dash and Lily’s POV. Dash and Lily both make for endearing characters.
They took us on a fun ride through New York City. I also enjoyed the show on Netflix but it doesn’t top the book.
Other Fiction Books Set in New York City
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This book only has a couple of chapters set in New York but it’s such an incredible story, I have to include it. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi follows two half-sisters who don’t know each other, in Ghana’s 18th century. One lives a life of luxury in Cape Coast Castle, and the other is captured and held in that same castle and sold into slavery.
We follow their lives and the lives of their descendants. This is another book where we follow the characters one chapter at a time. We get one character’s story and then the next chapter starts a whole new story following the characters’ children.
I know some were confused while reading trying to keep all the characters together but somehow I was easily able to trace each character back to the original sisters. I say trust this author and go with it.
It will be hard to read, the harsh truths of it, but keep your eyes open and keep going. It is worth it. This is such a compelling, beautiful story.
Reading about the inner workings of the slave trade and through the eyes of characters we love is difficult but it’s a must-read. Yaa Gyasi is an incredible writer who weaves a story that takes hold of your heart that you won’t soon forget.
The New York City chapters are set in Harlem.
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
In Girl in Translation, Kimberly and her mom emigrate to the US from Hong Kong and must live in squalor in New York City. Mom works at a Chinatown sweatshop, while Kimberly learns English and eventually excels in school all while working nights in the factory with her mom.
This story takes us through Kimberly’s life as she struggles as an immigrant, to becoming a star pupil, and into adulthood which proves to have its own challenges. Challenges of the heart and mind. Such is life and this is another beautiful story where the characters will leave permanent marks on your heart.
For more about this story and the kind of literary date in NYC it could inspire, go to my Literary Date Book Review of Girl in Translation.
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 have teenage kids of their own. The friends navigate their adult life and are left 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 troubles, raising teenagers, navigating their careers…it gives a realistic and honest portrayal of how hard adulting can be.
The setting is as much of a character as the rest of the characters. Ditmas Park in Brooklyn is like no other area in New York. It is a sleepy town filled with Victorian homes and beautiful sweeping, tree-lined streets.
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 is 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 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 as Holly Golightly. Also, get to learn about the women who inspired Truman Capote’s Holly. 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 her.
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.
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…
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!
Sarah Smith also has her awesome rom-com novels, Faker and Simmer Down, On Location, and The Close-Up. I’ve read all of them and loved them! Most were gifted but I read all her books whether gifted or not.
These books set in New York City have made for some amazing literary dates. I’m looking forward to reading many more books set in New York City! I have a ginormous list that I have been tackling thanks to getting many reader suggestions.
I’m always open to more. Please leave your recommendations for NYC books in the comments. I’ve read a couple of historical fiction books set in NYC by Fiona Davis and enjoyed those but I would love to know of others.
I hope you all enjoyed my list of twenty-one awesome books set in New York City. Let me know if you’ve read any or plan on it. Thank you for reading!
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