Friday, September 23, 2011

Books that make me want to travel... to NYC

When Keris Stainton announced on Chicklish that they'd be hosting a NYC reading challenge I really jumped at the idea! Because so many of my favourite YA books are set in New York City I figured I'd sail through the challenge easily. But since signing up for it I don't think I've read a single book :( So today I thought I might talk a little bit about some of my favourite books and then perhaps I could get a few recommendations?

I have to admit, I've only been to NYC once and I don't have particularly fond memories of it. I think if circumstances had been different, I'd really have loved it. But N and I went when I was still in my morning sickness phase in the early days of my pregnancy with Eldest. I was constantly feeling nauseous, and New York City really has some foul smells to it. One of the strongest memory I have of the place is the huge vents in the streets that emitted these putrid fumes.

But at the same time, I also think of how surprisingly polite everyone is to help out a couple of tourists standing on a street corner pouring over a map. The nice Italian lady who owned the cutest little boutique that we wandered into and who managed to drag out of me the entire romantic story of mine and N's relationship and seemed genuinely thrilled when I told her (the first person outside of our immediate family!) that we were expecting our first child. I remember getting scolded at FAO Schwarz for climbing onto a display platform to take a photo (embarassing!) and seeing the Blue Man Group. I do have lots of other great memories of the New York, so when I read about the city in my YA books, I do get a massive yearning to return and do all those things that I didn't get a chance to do the first time around.

The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot - I absolutely adore Meg Cabot, it's no secret. But that love began with the brilliant series and voice about Mia Thermopolis, teenage girl who finds out she's really royalty in The Princess Diaries. I came late to the series, and only really began reading the books after the first 6 or 7 had been published. But that worked out well for me at the start, as I could plough right through them without having that agonising wait between books. But then of course, once caught up, there was all the waiting. What has been wonderful about Meg Cabot is that she's produced so many wonderful YA books to delight and entertain me.

And Mia will always be my favourite. I love how much of New York City Meg Cabot has put into these books. You can really tell how much she loves the city and how well she knows it by some of the details and descriptions of certain places. It might just be time for a re-read of this entire series!

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson - Another author who I absolutely adore and admire is Maureen Johnson, who is just so unbelievably funny that I just can't get over it. And every book of hers that I've read is sheer brilliance as well. While I'm still in the process of reading her backlist, one of my favourites from her in Suite Scarlett.

I absolutely love this old-timey hotel that Scarlett's family owns. I love the idea of staying in such a place. I love that it's right in the heart of New York City and the idea of living there makes me go all dreamy. Throw in the strangest bunch of characters I've ever met, a whole lot of drama and a hot Southern boy and you've got a charming tale of family and friendship and first love. I adored it.

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton - Ooh, how much did I love Jessie Hearts NYC? I even love the gorgeous shiny cover of the book. And inside, the story and the characters are just as adorable.

I love how much enthusiasm and passion there is for New York City in this book. Jessie and her best friend Emma, are in the city for the summer and spend a lot of their time sightseeing and taking movie tours (which I'd so love to do) and trying to cram as much as NYC moments as they can. And I think my favourite aspect of the story is how often Jessie and Finn nearly meet and then don't. It's such a big place, how on earth are two people destined for each other supposed to meet? *happy sigh* But they do, and it's utterly sweet when they do. This entire book just books a huge, silly grin on my face. It makes me happy. And also yearn for New York.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - I watched the film before I read the book, but even if I hadn't, reading these pages would still have made me imagine clearly this fun-filled evening roaming about the streets of NYC listening to bands and getting to know these great characters!

I love the perfect combination of New York City and music and romance. I'm hoping to read the other books written by both Rachel Cohn and David Levithan soon (Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares) and I really hope that they both live up to the high expectations that I have after loving Nick and Norah.

What's your favourite books set in New York City? Any recommendations for me?


  1. I just have to read Nick and Norah - i loved the film so must read the book!

  2. Yay! Thanks so much for including Jessie. I love the other books you've chosen. I'm currently reading The Darlings in Love by Melissa Kantor, which is very New York-y (and the second in a series, I think).

    And not YA, but Shanna Swendson's series starting with Once Upon Stilettos is lovely New York + magic. Fab.

  3. awesome post! I get the New York bug biting me when I read books based in the city too! I have only managed to read Jessie and Nick and Norah for the challenge so far! I fail!

  4. Great post :) I really need to get on with reading some more NYC YA books, I'm falling a way behind. I think it'll be an enjoyable catch up though, I think I'll be using a couple of these for my list!

  5. Dash and Lily's is a great NYC book too. I would save it for December though, because it's a perfect holiday read.

  6. I love the Princess Diaries! I reallllly want to read Jessie Hearts NYC!! And Nick and Norah... and the other book sound fab too! I haven't read it, but someone else said that Where She Went, sequel to If I Stay is a great book set in New York!

  7. Willa - Oh, the book is a lot better, I think. It's a lot slimmer though, so that was hard for me to adjust to. But I do prefer the book.

    Keris - I've never heard of either of the books you've mentioned! But I shall go look them up now, thanks :)

    Raimy - You fail?! I haven't read ANY! That's why I felt all guilty and decided to write this post instead :)

    Jenni - It will be a lot of fun catching up on NYC YA books.. If only I could find some. I'm hoping to get hold of Dash and Lily though.

    Melissa - YES! I'm DESPERATE to read Dash and Lily, it just looks like it'll be a great read. Christmassy too.

    Cliona - The Princess Diaries is probably my favourite ever series of books, I just love it so. Where She Went IS a great NYC book, I totally forgot about it when writing this :)

  8. Missing Angel Juan by Francesca Lia Block made me desperately want to go to New York and eat lots of food, but I'm obsessed with food like that.

    I really enjoyed Love and Other Four-letter Words by Carolyn Mackler, which is set in New York, but I can't remember much about it!

  9. I also love the New York in Levithan & Cohn's other book Dash and Lilly's Book of Dares

  10. Julianne - Thank you for the suggestions! I'd not heard of that particular Francesca Lia Block book, but the food thing makes me incredibly curious :) And I've heard good things about Carolyn Mackler .. I think I might have even read one of her books before? Will definitely have to look into it, thanks!

    Darren - I'm so going to have to track down a copy!


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