Tales from the Big Apple – a selection of New York novels

One belongs to New York instantly; one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

Tom Wolfe

The Jazz Age, Harlem, Brooklyn, the Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty — New York is a city of the global imagination and people feel like they know it without ever having visited it. The concentrated mass of popular culture set in the city is huge: shows like Sex and the city and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and films like King Kong, Ghostbusters and Shaft — and of course, scores and scores of novels that are set in and around the city and feature its denizens.

The range of voices and stories from this city is phenomenal and covers every age and community — from Toni Morrison’s Jazz to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, and from Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big city to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. There really is a novel for every facet and every mood of this city and something that should appeal to every reader no matter their taste in books. Here is a selection of books that revolve around New York. Enjoy!

Overdrive cover Jazz, Toni Morrison (ebook)
“Joe Trace – in his fifties, door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, erstwhile devoted husband – shoots dead his lover of three months, the impetuous, eighteen-year-old Dorcas. At the funeral, his determined, hard-working wife, Violet, who is given to stumbling into dark mental cracks, tries with a knife to disfigure the corpse. Passionate and profound, Jazz brings us back and forth in time, in a narrative assembled from the hopes, fears and realities of black urban life.” (Adapted from Overdrive description. Also available as an audiobook)

Overdrive cover Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (ebook)
“You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard Lounge. All might become clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder. Then again, it might not… So begins our nameless hero’s trawl through the brightly lit streets of Manhattan, sampling all this wonderland has to offer yet suspecting that tomorrow’s hangover may be caused by more than simple excess.” ( Adapted from Overdrive description)

The Godfather / Puzo, Mario
“Don Vito Corleone is the ‘Godfather’ of New York’s richest Mafia family. His business is built on fear and murder. Vito’s son Michael wants a quiet life away from the family business. But that’s not easy, and slowly Michael becomes the most dangerous gangster of them all…  A tale of family and society, law and order, obedience and rebellion, it reveals the dark passions of human nature played out against a backdrop of the American dream.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bonfire of the vanities / Wolfe, Tom
“When a hot young New York bond trader is involved in a car accident in the Bronx, prosecutors, politicians, the press, police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers close in on him, licking their chops. Through it, he discovers the black comedy of New York, a city boiling over with ethnic hostilities and burning with itchy palms. The novel that will forever define late-20th-century New York style.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison (ebook)
“Ralph Ellison’s blistering and impassioned first novel tells the extraordinary story of a man invisible ‘simply because people refuse to see me’. Published in 1952 when American society was in the cusp of immense change, the powerfully depicted adventures of Ellison’s invisible man – from his expulsion from a Southern college to a terrifying Harlem race riot – go far beyond the story of one individual to give voice to the experience of an entire generation of black Americans. ” (Adapted from Overdrive description) Also available as an Audiobook. 

Motherless Brooklyn / Lethem, Jonathan
“Frank Minna is a savior. A local tough guy and fixer, Minna shows up to take Lionel and three of his fellow orphans on mysterious errands: they empty a store of stereos as the owner watches; destroy a small amusement park; visit old Italian men. The four grow up to be the Minna Men, a fly-by-night detective agency-cum-limo service, and their days and nights revolve around Frank, the prince of Brooklyn, who glides through life on street smarts, attitude, and secret knowledge. Then one dreadful night, Frank is knifed and thrown into a Dumpster, and Lionel must become a real detective. ” (Adapted from Catalogue. Also available as an Ebook.)

Rules of civility / Towles, Amor
” Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year-old named Katey Kontent, a young woman with an uncommon sense of purpose. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect‚ a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey Kontent embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of 1938 New York City society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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What the soul feels: 10 new Photography books

They say, that photography, like art, it is less what the eye sees and more what the soul feels, and we couldn’t agree more. So whether your soul feels the mists of the mountains, the droplets of water from a dog shaking his coat, vintage cameras, cityscapes, fashion, selfies or satellite imagery, we’ve got you covered! Check out these 10 new photography books from our collection.

Syndetics book coverPawtraits / Ken Drake.
Pawtraits is a stunning photographic collection capturing man’s best friends at their most adorable, playful, mischievous and downright lovable selves. Each shot is an artwork, a beautiful, personal ‘tail’ of the love between a dog and their human, captured in Zoo Studio’s signature style.  Animal lovers & photographic art connoisseurs alike will fall in love with this book. A portion of the sales of Pawtraits will be donated to the RSPCA.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPhotographs from the edge : a master photographer’s insights on capturing an extraordinary world / Art Wolfe with Rob Sheppard
“Legendary nature photographer Art Wolfe presents an intimate, behind-the-scenes guide to the experiences, decisions, and methods that helped him capture images from some of the most exciting locations across the globe. From endangered species to cultural celebrations to natural wonders, Wolfe brings each subject to life through his stunning photography and the stories he shares in this one-of-a-kind photo safari.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI love my selfie / essay by Ilan Stavans ; auto-portraits by ADÁL.
“What explains our current obsession with selfies? In I Love My Selfie noted cultural critic Ilan Stavans explores the selfie’s historical and cultural roots by discussing everything from Greek mythology and Shakespeare to Andy Warhol, James Franco, and Pope Francis. He sees selfies as tools people use to disguise or present themselves as spontaneous and casual. Provocative and engaging, this book will change the way readers think about this unavoidable phenomenon of twenty-first-century life.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMagnum photobook : the Catalogue Raisonné / texts by Fred Ritchin & Carole Naggar.
“Including unpublished behind-the scenes material, together with ephemera from the photographers’ archives about the making of their books. With an introduction by Fred Ritchin and texts by Carole Naggar, this book explores the evolution of the photobook, as well as the important role that Magnum has played in the history of documentary photography.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAging gracefully : portraits of people over 100 / Karsten Thormaehlen.
“A beautiful and fascinating exploration of what it is like to be over 100 years old, Aging Gracefully invites readers to look into the face of a century of life experience with portraits of centenarians captured by the compassionate, minimalist lens of photographer Karsten Thormaehlen. The striking photographs are accompanied by short bios of the centenarians, featuring quotes and wisdom on love, food, humor, and living with grace.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn reading / Steve McCurry ; foreword by Paul Theroux.
“Young or old, rich or poor, people everywhere read. This homage to the beauty and seductiveness of reading brings together a collection of photographs taken by Steve McCurry over four decades of travel and is introduced by award-winning writer, Paul Theroux. McCurry’s mesmerizing images of the universal human act of reading are an acknowledgement and tribute to the overwhelming power of the written word.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarth from space / by Yann Arthus-Bertrand ; translated from the French by Nicholas Elliott ; GoodPlanet Foundation.
“With more than 150 breathtaking satellite photographs, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, an aerial photographer and environmental activist, discusses the impact of deforestation, urban sprawl, ocean pollution, and more. Earth from Space ‘s compelling selection of satellite images raises important questions about our future, while showcasing the planet’s beauty, leaving no doubt that it is something crucial to protect.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverErik Madigan Heck : old future / texts by Justine Picardie and Susan Bright.
“In contemporary fashion photography, Erik Madigan Heck is something of an anomaly – a very successful anomaly who steers his own path. His work is elegant and unashamedly beautiful, exploring the intersections of fashion, painting and classical portraiture. Working with natural light and combining in-camera effects with digital post-production, he produces evocative and seductive images that are both timeless and futuristic.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRetro photo : an obsession : a personal selection of vintage cameras and the photographs they take / David Ellwand.
“From the pinhole to the Pentax, Retro Photo: An Obsession is a visual journey through the history of photography, highlighting some of the iconic cameras of the analog era. At once an accessible guide to vintage cameras, a highly personal take on photographic history, and a celebration of classic design, here is a book that takes the fear out of old-style photography and puts the fun back in.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNew York serenade / Ciro Frank Schiappa, photographs ; Michele Primi, texts.
New York Serenade is homage to the city of New York. The project consists of fifty pictures that share stories we believe are relevant to describe the continuous changing of the historical sites, the urban landscape, and the different forms of art that the city itself produced over the years. Our aim is to write a story about history, art, music, and New York City, and create a journey through this tradition, around historical places that are holding memories of the past while the future is written somewhere else.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

International fashion and flair

Summer has finally hit, and it’s time to start thinking about holiday destinations! However, if an international holiday is beyond the realms of your budget this season,  you can still dress in seasonal city style with these guides to fashion, style and elegance in the globe’s most chic destinations.

Syndetics book coverParis-New York : design fashion culture, 1925-1940 / Museum of the City of New York.
“Paris/New York explores architectures, urbanism, art, decorative arts, industrial design, fashion, cuisine. travel and jazz to provide a complete picture of the cities’ accomplishments in this astoundingly productive period between the two World Wars. Twelve essays by leading French and American scholars and 250 illustrations vividly re-create the contributions of the era’s legendary figures.”–BOOK JACKET.

Syndetics book coverThe essence of style : how the French invented high fashion, fine food, chic cafés, style, sophistication, and glamour / Joan DeJean.
What makes fashionistas willing to pay a small fortune for a particular designer accessory — a luxe handbag, for example?  Why are diamonds the status symbol gemstone, instantly signifying wealth, power, and even emotional commitment?One of the foremost authorities on seventeenth-century French culture provides the answer to these and other fascinating questions in her account of how, at one glittering moment in history, the French under Louis XIV set the standards of sophistication, style, and glamour that still rule our lives today. Written with wit, dash, and lan by an author who knows this astonishing true story better than virtually anyone, The Essence of Style will delight fans of history and everybody who wonders about the elusive definition of good taste. – adapted from Global Books in Print.

Syndetics book coverCitystyle : a field guide to global fashion capitals / [editor-in-chief, Heather Corcoran].
“City Style is a guide to the world’s most fashionable cities, curated by their most stylish residents. From the runways of New York and Paris to the streets of Tokyo and the London club scene, our expert guides give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the local look and how to get it, complete with required reading (magazines and blogs), street style photos and a comprehensive designer guide featuring photos. In addition, interviews with designers, stylists and other industry insiders answer the question: What makes each city uniquely stylish?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCity of style : exploring Los Angeles fashion from Bohemian to rock / Melissa Magsaysay ; original photography by Donato Sardella.
“City of Style” is a visual ride and intellectual approach through L.A.’s fashion past, the mark it’s making on the world today, and the individuals who fuel this influential style. – Global Books in Print.

Syndetics book coverStyle city : how London became a fashion capital / Robert O’Byrne ; consultant, Annette Worsley-Taylor.
“Learn how fashion developed in Britain from the early 1970s, when designer fashion scarcely existed, to the present day, when London ranks alongside Paris, New York and Milan as a global fashion capital.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFashion, Italian style / Valerie Steele.
“Italian fashion – which encompasses designers and companies from Armani to Zegna – has become a dominant force in the fashion world. This stunning book discusses the rise of Italian fashion since 1945, the development of the Italian Look from the late 1970s to the present, and the many great designers who have contributed to Italy’s fashion triumphs.” “This book is the catalogue for an exhibition, sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission, at The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City from February 11, 2003 through April 12, 2003.”–BOOK JACKET.

Syndetics book coverNew York look book : a gallery of street fashion / by Amy Larocca & Jake Chessum.
“Since 2004, “New York” magazine has been celebrating New York City style in a feature called The Look Book: a centerfold with its subject shot at random anywhere and everywhere across Gotham, along with an interview about the subject’s personal style. “The New York Look Book” collects more than 200 of the best Look Book features, and a special Where to Find It? section offers readers not only store listings, but also an insider’s guide to New York’s distinctive neighborhoods.” (Syndetics summary)