Recommendations
for New York City

Invisible Cities

Italo Calvino
Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.

This is a riveting classic. It flows with descriptive representations of impossible places and odd times. Calvino knows how to image a city with visceral detail. For me, this book unpacks New York, as a fantasy within a fantasy - ever-changing and therefore never truly knowing.    

Mitchell Joachim

Mitchell Joachim

Architect

The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion
Stunning candor and piercing details. The "Year of Magical Thinking" is an indelible portrait of loss and grief, based in New York City.
This book focuses on a rather privileged and specific literary class that has inhabited New York City for ages. It is an elegant exploration of what happens read more
Melissa Unger

Melissa Unger

Creative Director

Project for a Revolution in New York

Alain Robbe-Grillet
Part prophecy and part erotic fantasy, this classic tale of otherworldly depravity features New York itself.

The city is the protagonist. A maze about politics, activism, art. Very related to the Marquis de Sade.

Lunch Poems

Frank O'Hara
New York poems like profound tweets. These lines never get old.
Travels always with me...I switch to it when I get tired and have no concentration for “my other academic books”. He describe his mood of writing as a phone call to a friend - defining as personalism... read more
Flaka Haliti

Flaka Haliti

Artist

Chronic City

Jonathan Lethem
Manhattanites wrapped in their own delusions, desires, and lies.

Chronic Cities describes the New York mood pretty well, in a neighborhood where I've rarely been when I was living in New York, the Upper West Side. There's a lot of good characters and a tiger walking through New York, too. It reminds me of my time in this city, when I also did not understand much.

Martin Fengel

Martin Fengel

Photographer

The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker

Maeve Brennan
Maeve Brennan is famous for her observations. What she sees, sad and funny, everyday and bizarre, adds up to amazing, unforgettable stories about life in the small restaurants, in the cheap hotels, in the parks and on the busy streets around Times Square and Greenwich Village.

Anyone with a special relationship with New York should read this! Between 1954 and 1981, Maeve Brennan alias The Long-Winded Lady wrote the "Talk of the Town" column for The New Yorker. This book is a collection of her essays. About the most ruthless, ambitious, confusing, funny, sad, cold and humane city.

Ricarda Messner

Ricarda Messner

Publisher and Curator

I Seem to Live

Jonas Mekas
Jonas Mekas and his brother made their first experimental films in New York in 1950. He developed the diary film format in which he recorded his everyday observations. "I Seem to Live" is a continuation of this endeavour and his key literary work.

Jonas Mekas’s New York diary illuminates not just the inner life of an incredible artist and cultural impresario, the key moments and players in the development of his pioneering diaristic aesthetic,  but  it also documents the evolution of the city’s explosive art scene. Jonas witnessed artists such as Andy Warhol, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, Michael Snow, and so many others experimenting with new forms of art making- what we now take for granted as interdisciplinary- was just then only coming into view. 

Kelly Taxter

Kelly Taxter

Curator

The Blazing World

Siri Hustvedt
With "The Blazing World" Siri Hustvedt returns to the New York art world. The book is a polyphonic tour de force about the power of prejudice, desire, money, fame, and the patriarchy in the art business in the time around 9/11.
The main plot is set in New York at the turn of the millennium. The centre of the story is the widowed artist Harriet Burden, who plans an experiment after the death of her husband, a famous and very successful art dealer. She publishes her work of art, which the scene has largely ignored or ridiculed, under the identity of three selected male artists in order to expose the art scene and prove that gender plays a far too great role. read more

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Jack Kerouac
A combination of hardened thriller and existentialist lament. An essential document of the beat generation.

Just Kids

Patti Smith
The autobiographical novel tells the moving story of a New York friendship in the early 1970s and Smith's rise to become an icon of the punk movement.

Open City

Teju Cole
A lonely, attentive wanderer encounters multicultural New York and its invisible stories on his tours trough the city.

All the Rivers

Dorit Rabinyan
Romeo and Juliet today: An impossible love story between a Jew and a Palestinian exiled in New York.

Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
A pilgrimage, a celebration and a cautionary note. Rhodes-Pitt honors the dreamers who imagine what Harlem could be, without losing sight of how reality thwarts everything.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin
"Go Tell It on the Mountain" is a 1953 semi-autobiographical novel by James Baldwin. It tells the story of John Grimes, an intelligent teenager in 1930s Harlem, and his relationship to his family and his church. The novel also reveals the back stories of John's mother, his biological father, and his violent, religious fanatic stepfather.

Land of Men

Adrienne Miller
A fiercely personal memoir about coming of age in the male-dominated literary world of the nineties in New York, It's about Adrienne Miller becoming the first female literary editor of Esquire, and her personal and working relationship with David Foster Wallace.

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