Best Book You’ve Never Heard of on New York

Apple of My EyeThere are thousands and thousands of books about New York. There are memoirs and biographies set in New York where the location plays a key role. There are walking tour guides. There are general histories.

And then there’s Helene Hanff’s Apple of My EyeApple of My Eye by Helene Hanff - the best book you've never heard of on New York, a book that combines all three into a delightfully charming depiction of New York, with a strong sense of place and time. It was written in the 1970’s, but instead of feeling tired and dated, it feels like a wonderful glimpse into the past.

Helene Hanff is one of my favorite authors, and if you’ve read 84, Charing Cross Road, this one has a similar tone, although the subject matter is quite different.

Even if you’ve never been to New York, if you like learning about new places, or enjoy memoirs, this has enough of a memoir feel to it that it’s a fun pick. It’s also a slim volume, so no worries about making a huge reading commitment. If you’ve visited most of the tourist destinations in the city, many of the details may be familiar for you, but her personal approach and stories are still appealing.

Warning though, it just might make you teary.

Publisher’s Description:
A celebration of her life-long love for New York, Hanff embarked on this project as an assignment, and realized she had not been to many of the main tourist attractions- the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the World Trade Center. As make-believe tourists, off she and Patsy travel to describe the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb, Fraunces Tavern, some of New York’s very special small museums, Orchard Street, a tour of Harlem, and much more. Hanff weaves in historical events and tidbits on some of New York’s most notorious personalities.

Book Details

Title: Apple of My EyeApple of My Eye by Helene Hanff - the best book you've never heard of on New York
Author: Helene Hanff
Category: Nonfiction
My Rating: 5 Stars

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Comments

  1. Oh I love the principle behind this link-up. And this book sounds really fantastic. I’m intrigued by what you said about it feeling like a wonderful glimpse into the past vs. feeling dated. I think this is a sign of truly great writing in this genre.

    For some reason, it reminds me a little of Manhattan, When I Was Young – I haven’t read it but put it on my to-read list after seeing Gretchen Rubin recommend it. It was written in the 1950s, though.

    • I haven’t read that, but you’ve got me curious about it.

      She does such a marvelous job of making you feel like you’re there with her and her friend as they trundle around the city – lots of little details about the logistics that could easily be irritating clutter or “why would I care??” instead make it that much easier to imagine you’re joining them. With the wrong author this book could have been so annoyingly banal and too dated to recommend within a few years of publication. Instead it’s almost 40 years old and still enjoyable.

  2. My husband and I were just talking about how we’re overdue for a New York trip. I think I’ll have to settle for reading this one instead–at least for a year or two.

  3. I loved 84 Charring Cross Road. I’ll check this one out! Thanks!

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