The Great Believers
Paris and Chicago intertwine over the course of nearly a century in Makkai’s Pulitzer Prize finalist. In 1980s Chicago, Yale Tishman acquires a collection of paintings from 1920s Paris, courtesy of former artist’s model Nora, his friend Nico’s great-aunt. But as the AIDS crisis cuts a swath through Yale’s friends, he and Nico’s sister Fiona find themselves among the last preservers of memory. In 2015, Fiona searches Paris for her estranged daughter and ponders her own trauma.
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Fortune smiles on Manhattanite Toby Fleishman, whose Tinder profile might as well read spurned husband recently separated from too-ambitious wife, ready to find love (or just great sex) again. But what happens when this newly-single dad becomes a full-time solo parent when his soon-to-be-ex-wife drops the kids off and never picks them up again? Suddenly Fleishman might need more than 500 characters to properly reflect on why his marriage failed.
Lock Every Door
If you live in New York City, you always lock your apartment door—that’s just the way it is. But what if that means you’re locking the danger in with you? Jules thinks she’s found the dream gig apartment-sitting at the extravagant Bartholomew, but the strict rules and the growing fear from fellow sitter Ingrid—who one day just disappears—make the Bramford from Rosemary’s Baby seem like a five-star Airbnb.
The Chelsea Girls
Before Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe made art in its rooms, before Nancy Spungen was stabbed to death in the bathroom, New York’s Chelsea Hotel played host to two fictional artists during the Red Scare. Playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to make it all the way to Broadway, but as McCarthyism sweeps through the entertainment industry, their every affiliation and relationship comes under intense scrutiny.
The Great Pretenders
After being cut off by her movie mogul grandfather, Roxanne must learn how to make it in Hollywood without a family name. In her case, by becoming a rarity in 1950s showbiz: a female agent for blacklisted screenwriters. But between fending off the advances of industry men who assume they can still mix pleasure with business, and falling in love with a black journalist, Roxanne faces the possibility of losing her tenuous footing in Tinseltown.
Living in a city, you are the background player in hundreds of people’s stories, from riding on the subway to overhearing snippets of conversations at lunch. Why not tune out all the noise and focus on just one story? These summer reads will transport you from Los Angeles to New York City, Chicago to Paris, yet it feels like twice as many cities with all the different eras: the 1920s art scene, the Red Scare, the modern-day metropolis with a potential Tinder date around every corner. From thrillers to snarky literary fiction to thoughtful meditations, this list of the best books about cities encapsulates what’s perfect about a city: it has it all.
Featured image: Lorilee E