8 Books Set in New York

four books set in New York

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I haven’t traveled anywhere too far and I’m starting to seriously miss it. I miss the weekend getaways, the road trips, flying overseas, the whole thing. I think I have what can be referred to as ‘the travel bug’. And I got it bad. So to make myself feel a  little better, I thought of making a list of books that have one of my preferred settings: New York City.

Many people have extreme feelings about the Big Apple: they either love it or cannot stand it. I don’t know many people that feel lukewarm about it.

I, for one, simply adore the busy, bustling city. With the multiculturalism, diverse food, lively neighborhoods, and colorful cultural life, there’s a lot to like about the city.

As a reader, I immediately feel drawn into stories that take place in New York. I can imagine the city as the authors describe it and it gives me a comfortable, nostalgic vibe. 

So I will share some of the books that are set in New York so you can understand what I’m feeling too.

I already read most of these books but there are still a few that are on my interminable to-be-read pile. Hopefully, I can get to them sooner rather than later.  I bought them with every intention of reading them asap. 


Here are 8 books among many others that are set in New York.


8.Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler



I’ve had this book on my radar for a couple of years, after seeing it all over Bookstagram. Then I stumbled upon the TV adaptation, so now I have no choice but to read it. 

The book is about 22-year-old Tess, a newcomer to NYC, where she takes a job as a ‘back waiter’ at a fancy restaurant. The author describes her chaotic life as she meets new people and gets a sense of who she wants to become. The detailed vivid descriptions of food and wine will make you salivate, so be forewarned! Plus all the city’s venues might give you some serious wanderlust!


7. Pineapple Street By Jenny Jones

pineapple street

Pineapple Street

I recently read this book which officially came out on March 7th, 2023. It is another debut novel that takes place in New York. The Stocktons are a privileged New York family that made their fortune from real estate. They own a few properties on streets that are named after fruits: Cranberry, Orange, and Pineapple. Tilda and Chip and their children Cord, Darley, and Georgiana have different views on what it means to be wealthy. This novel looks at three perspectives from two of the women in the family and Sasha, the woman Cord marries, who is trying to fit into their world. A multigenerational story about wealth and privilege, and how it defines the Stockton family. 


6. The Measure by Nikki Erlick

the measure nikki erlick

The Measure

Another book I only found out about recently, The Measure is about choosing to peek at your future. How would you react if you were sent a box with a string that represents the number of years you have left to live? Would you open it or live your life without knowing when your last day will be? That is basically the premise of this book. Eight strangers are faced with this choice, and the book explores the possibilities of knowing or not knowing affecting them and those closest to them.  The book ties the individual stories nicely at the end and we see how their lives are all intertwined. A well-done debut novel set in New York. 


5. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

fleishman is in trouble

Fleishman is in Trouble

Although the book is okay, I find the TV adaptation is even better in this case. It could be that the actors portray the characters to a tee. Or the fact that it is filmed in New York, I don’t know. But I thought it was very well done. The story follows Toby Fleishman, a doctor who recently divorced his wife Rachel. He is trying to enjoy his new life as a single man, after years of being neglected by his overly ambitious wife. But once we find out Rachel’s side of the story, we can’t help but start to feel a little bit sorry for her. It is a psychological view of the intricacies of marriage, and how it can easily fall apart. The book does also contain vivid descriptions of popular New York venues. That is something I always appreciate in novels. 


4. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

the interestings

The Interestings

This is the oldest novel on this list, but it is also one that you must read. If you’re not familiar with Meg Wolitzer and her writing style, I highly recommend her books. I personally loved this one more than The Female Persuasion, although the latter is more popular. She has a way of describing the nature of relationships and the bonds friendships need in order to survive. The book is about six teenagers that become inseparable at summer camp, and it follows them as they mature into grown adults. Their complex characters and talent is described with a keen eye for detail. Wolitzer is a master at human relations and she delves deep into the psyches of her characters. Not to mention the numerous references to her native New York, which makes the book even better in my opinion.


3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

the goldfinch

The Goldfinch

This book is a true depiction of how most New Yorkers live and survive in a humongous city that can swallow them up. It’s a novel about fate, identity, and love. Written with prose that will have you enamored with everything from art appreciation to the physical city, it is a classic New York book.  The novel follows Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old who is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend after the death of his mother. As he gets older, he works at an antique shop where the painting of a Goldfinch brings back memories of his mother. This painting is at the story’s center and it brings Theo into a world he cannot escape. Tartt has a way of transporting you into the lives of her characters as if you personally know them.


2.A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

a little life

A Little Life

This is not the first time I talked about this book on this blog, and I can pretty much guarantee that I will feature it in future posts. It is one of these books that fit into many categories, and I will use any excuse to entice you to read it. Yes, it’s a very sad and hard book to digest, but it is so beautifully written, you must get your hands on a copy. If you’re not sure if it’s not a book for you, borrow it from the library, that way you don’t even have to spend a penny. I do that when it’s a new author or I’m not sure about the genre. I usually end up buying a copy to own afterward, even if the chance of me rereading it is slim. 

This book follows four friends that met at a Massachusetts college, then moved to New York to start their professional lives. The story centers around Jude and the abuse he was subjected to while growing up. The way his traumatic youth affected him and his relationships are heart-wrenching, but the way the author navigated the storyline is deserving of multiple literary praises.


1. Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

cleopatra and frankenstein coco mellors

Cleopatra and Frankenstein

This was my favorite book last year and I will not stop raving about it. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I really don’t know what you’re waiting for. Along with A Little Life, I can talk about this book any chance I get. I loved its perfect imperfections, the flawed characters with their numerous issues, and the writing being simply sublime. That’s the ideal combination for any book, unfortunately, not many authors manage it well. But Coco does it with ease and expertise solely more seasoned writers perfected in the past.

For her first novel, she managed to surpass expectations. Keep an eye on her, she is definitely an author I cannot wait to read again! 

In this debut novel, Mellors introduces us to Cleo and Frank, a couple who meets on New Year’s eve and marry a few short months after. Their age difference, their emotional baggage, plus all their unresolved issues impact their relationship, as well as those closest to them. It is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a long time! And the setting makes it even better in my opinion.


This sums up my list of eight novels that are set in New York. If you want to get lost on the streets of this large city through the pages of these books, this is a great place to start.  I didn’t even have to leave the comfort of my home to enjoy the city, at least for a short while. 

Hopefully, if you pick up any of them you will enjoy them as much as I did. Until next time, keep reading fellow bookworms!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top