Guest Post by Ola: Top 5 Books in New York City

This is a guest post by Ola, from the wonderful blog Ola Reads Books. Check out her site or follow her @OlaReadsBooks for more recommendations. You can also see the post I wrote for her blog here.

I read so many good books this year! And few of my favorite books of this year are set in New York City! There is something about this setting that is just so compelling to me. If the book is set in NYC, I’m very likely to read it. All of the books featured on my list were published in 2016. They are not set in any particular order, it would be just too hard for me to choose which one I liked best.

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
by Olivia Laing

25667449View on Goodreads

First on my list is a nonfiction book, it’s a mix of ‘reportage, memoir and biography on the subject of loneliness told through the lives of iconic artists’. This is such an amazing book! I loved this! It made me feel understood. While reading, I often had to stop, reread a passage that felt particularly meaningful to me, and think about it. There were many such moments. This book gave me so many ‘feels,’ I was not expecting it from a nonfiction. It was a beautiful read about author’s experience with loneliness, and her experience with learning about the loneliness of famous figures, and of course about the lonely lives of those famous people in New York City.

A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

First edition cover of book A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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This is again, a book that is sad, and like the previous one also touches on the subject on the loneliness. This is a story of a life. This story is a story of Jude and all the other people who orbit around him. Jude is a very shy and secretive character at the beginning, but throughout the book, we learn more and more about his past. And we almost wish we didn’t because his past is so traumatic.

It was extremely emotional read for me. Last few pages I was almost unable to read, at one point I started crying, I couldn’t stop and I had to fight with my tears to read just those two most beautiful pages at the end of the story. When I finished I just broken into tears and I couldn’t stop. The whole book was such a rollercoaster of emotions and those last pages just opened something within me.

The Nest

by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

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As blurb says, this is ‘a warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.’ The story shows how money is changing people, how desperate we become when faced with financial issues. And perfectly shows, that when we take something for granted, we make irresponsible decisions that may haunt us.

I loved the story. Each character is complex and different, and I enjoyed following all of them. We can see how they are changing, and from a truly dysfunctional family they turn into less dysfunctional family. There is always some hope.

Also, New York City is shown in an amazing way, which is a great addition to the story.

Tuesday Nights in 1980
by Molly Prentiss

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Kirkus Reviews called this book ‘an intoxicating Manhattan fairy tale’. Molly Prentiss did a wonderful job of creating complex and interesting characters. Showing how art can change your life, how various people interact with art, not only create it but love it, live it, critic it, admire it, long for it. How people’s lives can be molded by art. The book follows a critic, an artist, and a young woman as they find their way—and ultimately collide—amid the New York City art scene of the 1980s. We are in New York City when it was still vibrating with artists living in squats and doing outrages things. New York City I read about in The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, before gentrification, before all these outrageous interesting creatures had to find another place for them to live and thrive.

Three-Martini Lunch
by Suzanne Rindell

28767605View on Goodreads

“Looking back on it now, I see that New York in the 50’s made for a unique scene. If you lived in Manhattan during that time you experienced the uniqueness in the colors and flavors of the city that were more defined and more distinct from one another than they were in other cities or other times.”

Another great story I read this year that takes place in New York city and gives a glimpse of the art world of the time, in this case of a publishing world. When it was perfectly normal to consider women not capable of performing high-risk jobs, hiring them only as secretaries that will eventually find a husband, get pregnant and forget about their short career. When it was perfectly normal to smoke in the office and have a drink, or three with your lunch (I assume that it still happens, but it’s not considered perfectly normal anymore). A time when some anonymous tip would make FBI question your political belief and your sexuality. Three main voices in the book are young hip people, all sharing a common goal of making it in the publishing world, each in different ways. All the characters come to a place where they have to sacrifice something to gain something else, and decision on what is more important is always coming with some repercussions.


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