Summer in the city

I love summertime in Manhattan. While everyone else is itching to abandon the concrete jungle and head for beach destinations, I always look for an excuse to make the trip into town and explore the sights, sounds, and culture of my favorite place in the world. And while I don’t get to visit in-person as much as I would like to, I often take the chance to travel there through the pages of a book. This summer, my must-read list is filled with novels set in the Big Apple – and they perfectly transport, entertain, and enchant – just like the real city. Here are a couple of recommendations, if you’d like a summertime city escape of your own:

The Darlings by Cristina Alger

Inspired by the 2008 financial crisis, and particularly the Madoff Ponzi scheme, this debut novel tells the story of The Darlings, a quintessential New York high-society family, complete with CEO and patriarch Carter Darling, his frosty socialite wife, his Ivy-league educated daughters, and son-in-laws who take on the family business. The suicide of a prominent hedge fund owner and an investigation by the SEC propells the well-known clan into the media spotlight and forces family members to examine their loyalties and values. Told from about a dozen varying character perspectives over the course of a week, the novel examines how far individuals will go to protect themselves, even if it means sacrificing the unthinkable. Alger, a native New Yorker and former investment banker and lawyer, shares an insider perspective of what it really means to grow up, live, and survive in the competitive landscape of Manhattan. 

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

In this elegant debut novel, Towles takes readers back to the glittering time of 1938, just before World War II, when jazz bands and gin ruled the night. Katey Kontent, a young twenty-something living in the city with her best friend Evie, is determine not to let her humble Brooklyn beginnings prevent her from achieving career success as a writer. On a fateful New Year’s Eve in 1937, Katey and Evie meet a wealthy, connected, and handsome man, Tinker Grey, in a Manhattan jazz club. Through him, they are catapulted into the lifestyles of the young, rich, and carefree, partying in Long Island mansions, frolicking with millionaires in the Adirondacks, and dining at the most exclusive restaurants. Immediately, Katey and Evie each become enthralled by Tinker in different ways, resulting in impactful decisions that lead the down very different paths. Told through a flashback from 1966, Towles brings the city to life as its own character of an intriguing, fancy, and nostalgic time – a golden era – yet also one that devilishly tempts immorality from all of those who aspire to conquer the city where dreams are made. 

If you pack these in your tote bag for a weekend at the beach, don’t forget to review them for our Adult Summer Reading program, so that you have a chance to win some excellent prizes, including a Kindle Fire! And for more recommendations, please join us every Wednesday at 11 a.m. this summer at the Welcome Desk for The Buzz, our weekly, informal, fabulous chats about books, movies, music, and all things that you should have on your radar. 

Photo of New York City courtesy of Flickr user kaysha.

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