New York City is a common location set for movies and television, and it’s often the topic of popular and classic songs; with so many celebrities and musicians residing and working in The Big Apple, it can be easy to relate to this content when you come across it now that you’re a New Yorker yourself! But have you considered checking out novels that take place in New York City? I have always been a big reader—I even went to college for it (twice!) just so I could have an excuse to read all the time. For me, now that I can call myself a New Yorker, I reread some of my favorite books that takes place in NYC so I can find points of recognition. By doing this, it actually made me fall in love with these novels even more! I’ve rounded up some of my favorites so you can check them out yourself. And it goes without saying: reading is one of the most effective ways to learn and practice a language, so if you’re still perfecting your English skills, reading these books will not only make you feel closer to New York City, but you’ll get plenty of language practice in, too. So make yourself a cup of tea, get cozy, and get to reading!

 books in new york

  1. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

I’m starting this list off with this book because not only is it a literary classic, but this is one of my all-time favorites. This coming-of-age novel follows the narrator during his adolescence as he explores New York City and everything the city can offer for someone looking for authenticity and their own voice. While this book took place decades ago, it’s still rewarding to find parallels not only personally with the narrator, but with New York City. You might recognize some of the spots, and you will also see a glimpse into how the city used to be way back when.

  1. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is another novel that most high school English classes require students to read, but despite the fact it was a requirement, it’s still at the top of my favorites. While it’s a story of the haves and the have-nots, it’s also a story of self-acceptance and living by one’s own standards. In the 1920s, wealth played a big factor in human interaction, and this novel portrays that very relationship set in New York City—what better place to exemplify glitz and glitter?

  1. American Psycho – Bret Eason Ellis

If you’ve got a strong stomach for disturbing or violent content, you’ll love this novel. The story introduces the successful life of Patrick Bateman as a Wall Street professional with dark interests and habits. As he gallivants all over Manhattan, you’ll probably recognize certain neighborhoods and locations he frequents. Please keep in mind that some of this content is sensationalized, so approach with caution!

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

An easy read, this story depicts a young woman that seeks comfort at Tiffany’s—keeping up with appearances and feeling pressure to uphold a certain standard of life is all too familiar with all of us, so this one will be fun for you to consume on a rainy afternoon. As the main character journeys throughout the city, you might pick up on some of the demographic references, OR just make you want to stroll to Fifth Avenue for some shopping therapy!

  1. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness – Susannah Cahalan

While this publication is not a novel, it will tug your heartstrings with full force. The author of this memoir endured an incredible medical journey – one that helped raise awareness for so many unspoken for and silent victims. Her successful life in New York City was abruptly stopped short, she was constantly misdiagnosed, and she was quickly losing her spirit—I highly recommend checking this one out. I know of one life it saved, and you just never know if it might save another!

One of the best parts of living in New York City is recognizing your home on the screen or in print. These books will not only make you feel like you’re a part of the story, but you’ll become familiar with some of the best novels in American literature—and what better way to learn and practice your English skills?

Category : New York