The Namesake –Jhumpa Lahiri (Fiction)
This book, which has been made into a highly acclaimed movie, tells the tale of a South Asian family that moves to the East Coast of USA from Calcutta in India. The story spans a period of thirty years as it touches on the various issues that the young immigrant couple, Ashima and Ashok faces as they go about creating a new life for themselves and their children in the land of endless opportunity. The death of a parent in the home country, the first visit home with American born and raised children are all issues that continue to be relevant until today.
Gone to New York by Ian Frazier (Non-Fiction)
Gone to New York is an expose on New York City which is written in the form of a series of personal essays by the humorous author, Ian Frazier. These stories which are arranged chronologically over a period of thirty years from 1975 to 2005 bring the city to life as they give detailed descriptions of neighborhoods (like Chinatown where the author himself spent some years) bars, shops, characters and incidences.
Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston (Fiction)
Bed Rest provides a valuable insight into the lives of busy, workaholic New Yorkers as it tells the tale of a high powered corporate attorney who is confined to her bed due to pregnancy complications. Quinn or Q as she is affectionately known is bored to tears as she initially misses the hustle and bustle of her busy life. From the confines of her couch, however, she soon gets involved in a neighbor’s struggle to save her rent stabilized apartment and this act almost jeopardizes her own marriage. It also makes her realize that her job which, like most New Yorkers, she previously thought defined her is not all what it is cut out to be. The novel also highlights the sense of loneliness that you might experience while living in an apartment in New York City.
USA (Lonely Planet Guide) by Jeff Campbell (Tourist guide)
This book is great as an introduction to a new country as it covers each state of the US and it provides a mini guide for every state as well. The book recommends the best sites to explore, the nicest restaurants to sample and places to stay for every budget in each of these guides while it also has much practical information about airports, local transport, car rentals and of course history of each state. The book is a useful tool that helps you acquaint yourself with a new country especially one as big as the USA. You can also use it to plan trips around the USA during your stint as an expat in New York City.
Momzillas by Jill Kargman (Fiction)
Momzillas gives you a peek in to the lives of the rarefied world of the designer clad mommies that inhabit the Upper East Side of Manhattan. These women usually have full time nannies for their kids and homes, but don’t think it is necessary for them to work as they are usually well provided for by their trust funds or their husbands. These doyennes of the Upper East Side are a tightly knit clique who don’t readily welcome strangers in their midst. The protagonist, Hannah who has moved to Manhattan from laid-back state of California gets acquainted with this snobby and competitive lot via her husband and mother-in-law. Try as she might, though, she just cannot fit in.
Life on the Lower East Side: Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff (Non-Fiction)
This book traces the lives of the original inhabitants of New York’s Lower East Side. The Lower East Side which is today in the throe of gentrification was once home to the city’s many immigrants who all came here during the early years of 20th century. These immigrants worked long and hard hours and lived in deplorable conditions. This book highlights this important period of New York City’s history and it is illustrated with photographs from that period as well.
The Ivy Chronicles by Karen Quinn (Fiction)
This feel good book adequately highlights the unpredictably of life in New York City as it tells the tale of Ivy Adams who is a successful investment banker with a seven figure salary and a fancy lifestyle with all the trappings. Ivy’s life takes a nose dive in the opposite direction when she is let go by her firm and she loses everything, the expensive haircuts, the Park Avenue apartment and even her husband. As she downsizes her life, Ivy sets up a business guiding parents through the complex and tough private school admission process in New York City. This business puts Ivy into contact with neurotic New York City parents and their equally dysfunctional off-spring. She then realizes that she is much happier leading a life away from the rat race which once defined her very existence.
100 Years of Wall Street by Charles R Geist (Non–Fiction)
New York City is largely regarded to be the financial capital of the world. Its financial district, Wall Street is synonymous with the financial culture that affects all aspects of life in the city. Charles Geist’s book catalogues the various boom and bust periods that have taken place on Wall Street over the last century. The book is a good blend of rich text and evocative black and white photographs from the eras and is bound to be interesting to even those readers who normally don’t enjoy finance books.
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer; Kevin Flynn (Non-Fiction)
The terrorist attacks that took place on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 (9/11) changed New York City irrevocably. Authors Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, both from the New York Times, give a voice to the people who were trapped inside the towers that day. While most of us were glued to our TV screens watching the events unfold those people who were trapped in burning twin towers had no idea what was going on or why. The book also brings to light certain issues like the confusion and chaos that reigned in the area that day. For example, it talks about how nervous office workers were told to return to their desks after the North Tower was first hit. Stanley Praimnath, who worked for a Japanese bank was one such worker who had been evacuated from the 81st floor of the South Tower. He was then told it was secure enough for him to go back to work and then while he was on the phone with a colleague in Chicago, the United Airlines Jet plunged into his office window. This is a powerful but heartbreaking book which should be considered as a must read for anyone who plans to have a life in New York City.
All Around the Town: Amazing Manhattan Facts and Curiosities by Patrick Bunyan (Non- Fiction)
The author Patrick Bunyan is extremely passionate about his subject matter as he presents a number of interesting stories that bring to life the people, streets and events of Manhattan which are often thought to be the center of the Universe. The book which also has several black and white photographs and illustrations is a great and entertaining way to learn about the history of New York City.