Monday, December 16, 2013

Books for a New York City-State of Mind

My Christmas Wish List

Dear Santa,

I'm in a New York City-state of mind this Christmas. Please send any of the following books about the who, what, when, where and why of our great metropolis. I envision myself this winter sitting in the glow of the HDTV fireplace, surrounded by these titles with Mabel at my side, poring over facts and figures and photos of my favorite place in the world.

And if you can swing it, Santa, please dispatch your elves to the local indie bookshops around town to pick these up. I know how you like to check off lists, so I’ve posted a list of lists of bookstores to get y'all started.

Safe travels, Santa! I've been as good as I could be. --MsManhattan

Humans of New York
By Brandon Stanton (St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 15)
Why: I’m a human of New York. Now that a book is out there, I have to track how I measure up to these singled-out, picture-worthy, All-New York humans. And I love the author/photographer's earnestness: Shortly after arriving here circa 2010, he was inspired to create a visual census of the city. That could be marketing, but just because it's marketing doesn't necessarily mean it's not true.
More: NYT Review | Author’s Site

The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
By William B. Helmreich (Princeton University Press, Sept. 30)
Why: The title challenges me to say, “I do!” I want to know what he knows that I don’t know… I can walk 6,000 miles!
More: The Guardian Review | Untapped Cities Review | Publisher’s Site

New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009  
By Teresa Carpenter (Modern Library, 2012)
Why: It’s an idea I wish I’d thought of, and I’m so glad Carpenter did, especially now that I’m determined to know even more of the New York nobody knows. She culled through and curated entries from the diaries of New Yorkers dating back to 1639. Were we complaining back then about the takeover by big box chain stores?
More: NYT Review | Author's Site

Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City
By Eric Sanderson | Illustrated by Markley Boyer (Harry N. Abrams, 2009)
Why: Sanderson is The Man when it comes to the New York no one knew before Henry Hudson found it in 1609. No one aside from the Lenape Indians anyway. A landscape ecologist, Sanderson used a variety of data and computer-modeling techniques to match the urban Manhattan of today to the wild Mannahatta of the 17th century. Get to know this book, and you'll never question the value of recycling again.
More: PW Review | Publisher’s Site | The Mannahatta Project Today

The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City's History
By Eric Homberger | Illustrated by Alice Hudson (Henry Holt & Co., 2005, 2nd ed.; originally published 1994)
Why: What a rich pictorial companion to Mannahatta and New York Diaries. Using maps, charts, photos, drawings, ephemera and essays, author Homberger takes a neighborhood-by-neighborhood look at the city's evolution, chronicling its social and cultural development.
More: Publisher’s Site

Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers
By Becky Cooper | Illustrated by Bonnie Briant (Harry N. Abrams, April 2)
Why: Because history is personal, and Cooper makes the point with this series of cartographic memoirs by a mix of anonymous and known New Yorkers. Together the maps weave a story that illustrates the importance of place to narrative (and makes me wonder how I would draw my own map).
More: BrainPickings Review | Publisher’s Site | Author’s Site

The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs
Edited/Compiled by The New Yorker Magazine | Foreward by Malcolm Gladwell
(Random House, 2012)
While it may not be about New York, it brings a New Yorker’s sensibility, via the staff of The New Yorker, to my other great passion. And Mabel needs something to nose through while I’m doing likewise with all of the above.
More: Kirkus Reviews Review | Publisher’s Site

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