The best books about New York City(First part)


I am a big fan of New York City. That’s why I have been living here for 14 years now. The more time I spend learning about this city, the more I love it. Some people don’t like New York at all, and I understand why. It’s not a relaxed environment in so many different ways, and depending on how you deal with it, you can get to some severe stress.

New York is a city of extremes. During the winter you can experience real feel temperatures of up to -18 F (-28 C), which could make you even find some penguins having shots of bourbon to warm things up. On the other hand, when it’s summer (Mamma mia!) you will be continually sweating under a sun that, sometimes, heat everything to temperatures around 118 F (48 C) with 97% of humidity. It’s so humid and hot, that even when you are taking a shower, you are sweating. You just don’t realize it.

 
 

The list of contrasts goes on: you can walk through insanely crowded areas like 34th Street and Seventh Avenue or the Port Authority at rush hours, and incredibly quiet neighborhoods like Greenwich Village (Manhattan), Astoria-Ditmars (Queens), Prospect Park (Brooklyn), Staten Island waterfront or the New York Botanical Garden (in the Bronx). Same thing regarding personal and professional relationships: you either find very kind people or extremely rude human beings. Mignon McLaughlin, an American journalist and author, said once: “A car is useless in New York, essential everywhere else. The same with good manners.”

 
A car is useless in New York, essential everywhere else. The same with good manners.
— Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist and author
 

New York City is about black or white. You will hardly find shades of gray. Perhaps, that’s precisely what I like the most about this city. Crazy here is normal. It’s funny because some people try to seem to be crazy but you spot the bullshit. In New York, it’s the other way around: even if most locals would try to look normal, they wouldn’t succeed There are thousands of things I love about living and running my business in New York City. But there’s one in particular that I do like: the availability of incredible resources, making the learning process and access to art and culture incredibly easy – wherever you look for it – either online or in the real world.

 
Sometimes I pretend to be normal. But it gets boring. So I go back to being me.
 

One thing that I do enjoy is learning about the history of the places I live. When we understand the past, I believe we can better navigate the present time, and create better tools to do what should be done to shape a better future.

For those who enjoy reading and watching movies and videos, I will be sharing here in this great blog, my suggestions to dive deep into this great city called New York: ( 1 ) the best books, ( 2 ) the best websites and blogs, and ( 3 ) the best movies and videos. Let’s get to it, then. In this blog post, I will talk about books – in a series called “The Best Books About New York City. Enjoy!

 

The Best Books About New York City

 

When I was still living in São Paulo City, Brazil, (my hometown), I used to own around 1,350 books, including those from the time I was in college studying advertising and marketing. At some point, I donated all of them because I would have to charter a flight to bring them to New York with me. These days, I usually read e-books and blogs and websites. But I still love paper books, so I bought all the books suggested here. Here goes my list:

(1) New York - An Illustrated History

This book is probably my favorite about New York City History. It puts together striking images and impressive secrets of this great city. In its pages you will find lots of very interesting information you won't find easily anywhere else. The book is extremely well documented, in details, putting together all you need to know on the history of the Big Apple. Indispensable for those who are fascinated by the capital of the world. It’s a narrative by Ric Burns and James Sanders with Lisa Ades as picture editor. If you are more into watching than reading, then you should definitely check out this fantastic documentary film: “American Experience: New York: A Documentary Film by Ric Burns.” If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can watch it online here. Or if you still keep your DVD player, get your package at PBS.org.


(2) “The New York Nobody Knows – walking 6,000 miles in the city

I did enjoy every single sentence of this book brought to life by William B. Helmreich. It’s pure joy, even for the most fervorous New Yorker. This book is simply a masterpiece, something that will make New York – and its uniqueness – stand out at each and every page. Read this book and fall in love with the city (no matter if for the first time or again.) Blessed be the author and its priceless effort to uncover the greatest city in the world.

 

(3) “Divided We Stand – A biography of the World Trade Center

This book is so good that I read it twice. Plus, I have the pleasure of getting to know Eric Darton, the author, and becoming his friend. To Eric Darton, these skyscrapers were powerful symbols that marked New York's transition from a seaport to a financial center. Written before the 2001 attacks, the book does spotlight prior terrorist attacks (attempted and actual) on this spot, including the 1993 parking lot bombings. “Divided We Stand” is part profile and part investigative journalism. There’s a very intriguing portion of this book regarding the complex of the Twin Towers, focusing on its construction and architecture. It is this text that is most insightful, as the middle portion of the book traces the career and work of the chief architect of Towers 1 and 2: Minoru Yamasaki. Specifically, on page 117 of the softcover edition of this text, in the section called "Yama, architect of terror" there is a line that states "Yamasaki had engineered his towers to withstand the force of a 747 shearing into them". Undoubtedly, this line will lend credence to those who believe towers 1 and 2 were brought down by internally laid explosives, with the airplane crashes done for show.

 

 

City of Dreams” by Tyler Anbinder is the long-overdue, inspiring, and defining account of New York's both famous and forgotten immigrants: the young man from the Caribbean who relocated to New York and became a Founding Father; an Italian immigrant who toiled for years at railroad track maintenance before achieving his dream of becoming a nationally renowned poet; Russian-born Emma Goldman, who condoned the murder of American industrialists as a means of aiding downtrodden workers; Dominican immigrant Oscar de la Renta, who dressed first ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Over ten years in the making, Tyler Anbinder's story is one of innovators and artists, revolutionaries and rioters, staggering deprivation and soaring triumphs. Today's immigrants are really no different from those who have come to America in centuries past—and their story has never before been told with such breadth of scope, lavish research, and resounding spirit.

 
 

Jack Kerouac is the author of this good novel. It was his first. Jack Kerouac was an American novelist and poet of French-Canadian descent. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his method of spontaneous prose. You can explore more in this compelling visual story. I like much more his second novel, “On the Road.” But if you are interested in Jack Kerouac's story in Queens, New York, then The Town and the City is your book. Well, if you enjoy books, you should definitely read both. You can even make a plan to enjoy The Town and The City Festival in Kerouac’s hometown, Lowell, Massachusetts, a annual 2-day music and arts festival that takes place in various event spaces, bars, cafes, and galleries throughout downtown Lowell, this year on October 18 and October 19, 2019. The festival celebrates the spirit of Jack Kerouac, and it’s inspired by the creativity and exploration for which the author was so famously known. The Festival aims to inspiring discovery and to celebrating the love for life.

Stay tuned for other lists of books. This is only First Part of the Series “Best Books About New York City.”

 
 

Stories of New York

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