New York Books – the list is growing!

photo: pd4pic.com
photo: pd4pic.com

I didn’t realize until now just how many books I’ve read
that are set in New York.  If you’re in “a New York state of mind,”
take a look at some of my favorite Big Apple books!


Just added a new one:
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Great 5-star read!


The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin  – light 1800s historical fiction about billionaire American families who match up their daughters with poor European dukes and princes.

 


Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow – intelligent and well-written historical fiction about 1930s organized crime in New York City

 


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – a character sketch of a lonely nineteen-year-old girl trying to escape a sad past

 


Brooklyn by Colm Toíbín – moving love story in which a young Irish woman leaves home for a better life in Brooklyn

 


Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy – second book in the entertaining Mary Handley Mystery series about New York’s first female detective

 


The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – story about a buried secret and painful family dynamics between adult siblings

 


The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott – historical fiction about a young English maid and seamstress who survives the Titanic

 


Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. – fascinating biography of Huguette Clark, a reclusive heiress who spent the last twenty years of her life in a hospital bed and gave away huge amounts of money to her caretakers and advisers

 


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – terrific story about a talented New York architect who refuses to collaborate

 


 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – classic love story about a mysterious tycoon during the wild party atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties

 


The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor – great historical fiction about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were the only civilian Americans to be killed for spying for the Russians

 


The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky – a modern-day Artemis solves a murder in New York in a world of mortals, gods and goddesses

 


The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – Time traveling love story about finding happiness in an alternate life

 


The Inquisitor’s Mark by Diane K. Salerni – second book in an exciting Young Adult series about a secret eighth day where allies and adversaries abound

 


The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – a look at the lives of six talented teenagers who meet at a summer camp for the arts in 1974


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – fantastic historical fiction during the Depression and World War II. Egan’s characters try their best to navigate between right and wrong.


My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – How do you put the hushed experiences of your childhood into words?  Character reflections on family, marriage and friendships.

 


Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – debut novel about the secret life of teenagers at an elite private school in Brooklyn

 


Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – working class girl meets a handsome banker and climbs the social ladder in Post Depression New York.

 


Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy – first book in an entertaining historical fiction murder mystery series about New York’s first female police detective

 


The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin – great book about Truman Capote and his relationship with high society socialites in New York.


Tell No One by Harlan Coben – fast-moving, highly entertaining crime thriller set in the suburbs with a wild chase scene in New York


The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland – interesting a story about an emotionally unsettled newspaper woman and a commentary on the business of reporting news

 


We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – a look inside a family struggling with Alzheimer’s disease

 


Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – terrific story of a young author from Kentucky who arrives in New York and becomes a hugely successful and prolific novelist – Book Club Mom’s All-Time Favorite! (Click here to view Book Club Mom’s Top 10 Faves.)


I think it’s fun to sort my books by different categories.
Do you often read about the same place?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged

     

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a Russian/American writer and philosopher. You may have heard of John Galt and her most famous novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), and maybe you’ve heard of her personal, and often criticized, philosophy called objectivism. She incorporated her beliefs into two terrific books and created characters who stand for these principles.

But what is objectivism and who the heck is John Galt?

  • Rand’s philosophy of objectivism is a bit selfish, but there’s more to it than that. The Ayn Rand website (aynrand.org) describes it this way:

Follow reason, not whims or faith.
Work hard to achieve a life of purpose and productiveness.
Earn genuine self-esteem.
Pursue your own happiness as your highest moral aim.
Prosper by treating others as individuals, trading value for value.

  • John Galt is a character in Atlas Shrugged. The reader doesn’t get to meet him until late in the book, but there are many references to Galt and to shrugging, building the mystery as the plot develops.

So what is The Fountainhead about?

The Fountainhead is a great story about a young architect in New York named Howard Roark who refuses to conform and collaborate on design projects because he believes that his artistic talents would be compromised. Rand’s themes focus on socialism, capitalism and the conflict between conformity and independence, with characters on both sides and some caught in the middle. Rand introduces the idea of independent thinkers and “second handers,” people who believe that the opinions of others are superior and therefore conform to those beliefs. It’s not all dry stuff, though. Get ready for intense romance, friendship and betrayal.

I think this book is terrific on every level. The characters are unique and interesting and what they stand for ties them into Rand’s personal philosophy of objectivism. And although I think Rand’s beliefs are extreme, I admire Roark’s unwillingness to compromise his designs. Rand’s ability to develop these characters, weave them into a complex and interesting story and keep the reader going through more than seven hundred pages is a genius accomplishment that stands the test of time.

And what about Atlas Shrugged?

Atlas Shrugged is about a dystopian United States and is Rand’s lesson book about objectivism. The story revolves around Dagny Taggart who runs the Taggart Transcontinental railroad, Hank Rearden, of Rearden Steel, who has developed a metal alloy that is better and stronger than anything else, and Dagny’s childhood friend, Francisco d’Anconia who comes from a wealthy copper family. One by one, the most prominent business leaders disappear and their industries fall apart. The economy tanks and the government exerts more control on the businesses that are left. It’s heavy reading, but Rand also includes a romantic triangle and interesting sub-themes, such as duty and honor. Its mystery element keeps the plot moving, despite nearly twelve hundred pages. In the end, she explains why the business leaders have disappeared, and John Galt’s identity.

It took me two months to read this book and I enjoyed every word. If you want to fully understand what everyone who mentions Atlas Shrugged is talking about, it is well worth the effort. You don’t have to agree with everything Rand says and her philosophy of objectivism to appreciate her skill in storytelling and the value of having ideals and standards.

I kept a long list of characters and companies and organizations as they were mentioned in the story and this list helped me keep track of the hundreds of references that appear. What I found most impressive about Rand was that, despite the length of the book, there are no unnecessary references. If you meet a character or read about something on page 100, you can be sure it is important and you will see the reference again, even if it is five hundred pages later.


Over the years, political figures have aligned with and distanced themselves from Rand. A quick internet search will give you everything you need to explore that angle.


And if you enjoyed The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, you may be amused to see Ayn Rand as a character in Old School by Tobias Wolf.


Image: forbes.com

For more information about Ayn Rand:
aynrand.org
Ayn Rand Lexicon
Wikipedia Ayn Rand
Wikipedia Atlas Shrugged
Wikipedia The Fountainhead

Rand’s interviews are both strange and interesting – check them out here:
Mike Wallace interview 1959
Tom Snyder interview 1979
Phil Donohue interview 1979

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

New York Books – Something for Everyone!

photo: pd4pic.com
photo: pd4pic.com

I didn’t realize until now just how many books I’ve read
that are set in New York.  If you’re in “a New York state of mind,”
take a look at some of my favorite Big Apple books!


The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin  – light 1800s historical fiction about billionaire American families who match up their daughters with poor European dukes and princes.

 


Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow – intelligent and well-written historical fiction about 1930s organized crime in New York City

 


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – a character sketch of a lonely nineteen-year-old girl trying to escape a sad past

 


Brooklyn by Colm Toíbín – moving love story in which a young Irish woman leaves home for a better life in Brooklyn

 


Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy – second book in the entertaining Mary Handley Mystery series about New York’s first female detective

 


The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – story about a buried secret and painful family dynamics between adult siblings

 


The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott – historical fiction about a young English maid and seamstress who survives the Titanic

 


Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. – fascinating biography of Huguette Clark, a reclusive heiress who spent the last twenty years of her life in a hospital bed and gave away huge amounts of money to her caretakers and advisers

 


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – terrific story about a talented New York architect who refuses to collaborate

 


 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – classic love story about a mysterious tycoon during the wild party atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties

 


The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor – great historical fiction about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were the only civilian Americans to be killed for spying for the Russians

 


The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky – a modern-day Artemis solves a murder in New York in a world of mortals, gods and goddesses

 


The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – Time traveling love story about finding happiness in an alternate life

 


The Inquisitor’s Mark by Diane K. Salerni – second book in an exciting Young Adult series about a secret eighth day where allies and adversaries abound

 


The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – a look at the lives of six talented teenagers who meet at a summer camp for the arts in 1974


Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – fantastic historical fiction during the Depression and World War II. Egan’s characters try their best to navigate between right and wrong.


My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – How do you put the hushed experiences of your childhood into words?  Character reflections on family, marriage and friendships.

 


Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – debut novel about the secret life of teenagers at an elite private school in Brooklyn

 


Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – working class girl meets a handsome banker and climbs the social ladder in Post Depression New York.

 


Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy – first book in an entertaining historical fiction murder mystery series about New York’s first female police detective

 


The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin – great book about Truman Capote and his relationship with high society socialites in New York.


Tell No One by Harlan Coben – fast-moving, highly entertaining crime thriller set in the suburbs with a wild chase scene in New York


The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland – interesting a story about an emotionally unsettled newspaper woman and a commentary on the business of reporting news

 


We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – a look inside a family struggling with Alzheimer’s disease

 


Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – terrific story of a young author from Kentucky who arrives in New York and becomes a hugely successful and prolific novelist – Book Club Mom’s All-Time Favorite! (Click here to view Book Club Mom’s Top 10 Faves.)


I think it’s fun to sort my books by different categories.
Do you often read about the same place?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!