Reading About New York

Since moving to New York a little over 3 weeks ago, I’ve developed the obnoxious and expensive habit of buying compilation I-Love-New-York books whenever I see them, which is pretty often. They’re probably meant to be a tourist trap, and I’ve tried hard to avoid being touristy, but I guess this is my one weakness.

Is “compilation I-Love-New-York” books a genre? It should be. These are the books that are collections of essays about New York, and not surprisingly there are a ton out there. I finished book #58 today, and it’s part of this aforementioned genre/not-yet-a-genre-but-should-be.

The book was called Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York, edited by Sari Botton and featuring one of her essays among many others, including Elizabeth Gilbert and Whoopi Goldberg. This was apparently a follow-up; Botton has edited another compilation book about leaving New York.

This one was pretty similar to the other one that I recently read. There were stories filled with gushing love and passion for the city and stories of sadness, loneliness, anger, and cynicism. These chapters were longer than the anecdote-style New York stories from My First New York. I had never heard of some of these authors, though, so that was a great way to sample writing styles. I have a new list of authors to look into.

I think I love these types of books so much because there are infinite ways to experience this city, and no two experiences are alike. You can love it, you can hate it, you can begrudgingly accept it the way it is like a stray cat your roommate adopted, it can make you feel complete or lonely or a combination of both in the course of a few hours.

I’m really going to try to stop buying books like this, but I will probably reread the ones I have, and shamelessly thumb through chapters of ones that I can’t afford. The stories serve as great motivation while I’m working on getting my start here.

I like to think at the very least they’re helping me appreciate my rambling walks through the city. ◊

There were professional achievements to celebrate, new, better apartments to move into, and always that feeling when you walk out the door and onto the street in New York that today, no matter what happened yesterday, you can begin again.”

Patricia Engel, page 27

“I’m still not totally sure New York isn’t just a movie.”

Elliott Kalan, page 153

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