City of a Million Stories

In 1943, a meek young man met the electrifying Holly Golightly on the Upper East Side, and had his world turned upside down. In 1966, a determined Anne Welles moved to Manhattan to follow her dreams, and began a melodramatic life in the fast lane. New York City is replete with iconic fiction like Breakfast at Tiffany's and Valley of the Dolls, but some of the best stories it has to tell are neither romantic nor glamorous--simply true.

Cartoonist Roz Chast (Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?) has been telling her stories of the city for decades, with her characteristic sense of neurosis. Going into Town (Bloomsbury, $28) is her latest book, a thoroughly comic guide to moving about Manhattan, as well as a love letter to it. Fellow cartoonist Julia Wertz (The Infinite Wait) has also crafted an affectionate guidebook to New York City, Tenements, Towers & Trash (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99). While Chast explains uptown versus downtown, Wertz geeks out over the fascinating diversity of architecture throughout the city. She also homes in on some of its quirkier historical tidbits (they outlawed pinball machines?). Together, the artists illuminate fascinating aspects of a vast and nuanced metropolis. (Read our reviews of both books below.)

Personal stories give a charming, eyes-on-the-street sense of New York, but if you want to see the larger picture, check out historian Mike Wallace's books. After winning the Pulitzer Prize for Gotham, Wallace picks up where he left off for the sequel, Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898-1919 (Oxford, $45). He continues his gripping saga by diving into the ways titans of industry like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller were shaping the city and its politics at the turn of the century.

Whether you're a wide-eyed ingénue, a jaded old-timer or someone in between, your story has a place in the city that never sleeps. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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