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The Best Books About Or Featuring The Bronx Neighborhood In New York City

“What are the best books about The Bronx Neighborhood Of New York City?” We looked at 90 of the top Bronx books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 16 titles, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Bronx” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 70+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 16 Bronx New York Books



16 .) Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood written by Kate Simon

Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

As an account of growing up female, it is a fit companion piece to Mary McCarthy’s classic Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood.



15 .) El Bronx written by Nicholasa Mohr

El Bronx

Lists It Appears On:

  • Our Old Neighborhood
  • Goodreads

In a city called New York … In a neighborhood called El Bronx … The Fernandex children own a very special pet: A white hen named after their favorite Hollywood movie star. A new girl comes to school – a gypsy child who can read palms and foretell the future. A young boy must face the humiliation of wearing his uncle’s orange roach-killer shoes to his high school graduation. In the South Bronx – or El Bronx, as it’s known to the people who live there – anything can happen. A migrant “fresh off the boat” from Puerto Rico can be somebody on the mainland, pursue the American Dream … and maybe even make it come true. Here are stories that capture the flavor and beat of El Bronx in its heyday, from 1946-1956.



14 .) Just Kids From the Bronx written by Arlene Alda

Just Kids From the Bronx

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • Goodreads

A touching and provocative collection of memories that evoke the history of one of America’s most influential boroughs-the Bronx-through some of its many success stories The vivid oral histories in Arlene Alda’s Just Kids from the Bronx reveal what it was like to grow up in the place that bred the influencers in just about every field of endeavor. The Bronx is where Michael Kay, the New York Yankees’ play-by-play broadcaster, first experienced baseball; where J. Crew’s CEO Millard (“Mickey”) Drexler found his ambition; where Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dava Sobel fell in love with science; and where local music making inspired singer-songwriter Dion DiMucci and hip-hop’s Grandmaster Melle Mel. The parks, the pickup games, the tough and tender mothers, the politics, the gangs, the food-for people who grew up in the Bronx, childhood recollections are fresh. Arlene Alda’s own Bronx memories were a jumping-off point from which to reminisce with a nun, a police officer, an urban planner, and with Al Pacino, Carl Reiner, Colin Powell, Maira Kalman, Bobby Bonilla, Mary Higgins Clark, and many other leading artists, athletes, scientists, and entrepreneurs-experiences spanning six decades of Bronx living. Alda then arranged these pieces of the past, from looking for violets along the banks of the Bronx River to the wake-up calls from teachers who recognized potential, into one great collective story, a filmlike portrait of the Bronx from the early twentieth century until today.



13 .) Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir written by Mary Higgins Clark

Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • Goodreads

In her long-awaited memoir, Mary Higgins Clark, America’s beloved and bestselling Queen of Suspense, recounts the early experiences that shaped her as a person and influenced her as a writer.Even as a young girl, growing up in the Bronx, Mary Higgins Clark knew she wanted to be a writer. The gift of storytelling was a part of her Irish ancestry, so it followed naturally that she would later use her sharp eye, keen intelligence, and inquisitive nature to create stories about the people and things she observed. Along with all Americans, those who lived in New York City’s borough of the Bronx suffered during the Depression. So it followed that when Mary’s father died, her mother, deciding to open the family home to boarders, placed a discreet sign next to the front door that read, FURNISHED ROOMS. KITCHEN PRIVILEGES. Very shortly the first in a succession of tenants arrived: a couple dodging bankruptcy who moved in with their wild-eyed boxer; a teacher who wept endlessly over her lost love; a deadbeat who tripped over a lamp while trying to sneak out in the middle of the night… The family’s struggle to make ends meet; her days as a scholarship student in an exclusive girls’ academy; her after-school employment as a hotel switchboard operator (happily listening in on the guests’ conversations); the death of her beloved older brother in World War II; her brief career as a flight attendant for Pan Am (a job taken after a friend who flew with the airline said ever so casually, “God, it was beastly hot in Calcutta”); her marriage to Warren Clark, on whom she’d had a crush for many years; sitting at the kitchen table, writing stories, and finally selling the first one for one hundreddollars (after six years and some forty rejections!) — all these experiences figure into “Kitchen Privileges,” as does her husband’s untimely death, which left her a widowed mother of five young children.



12 .) Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning written by Jonathan Mahler

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • Goodreads

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year Scheduled for release in July 2007 as an ESPN original miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson. A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch for the city’s mayorship. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts–one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city–was the subtext of race. Deftly intertwined by journalist Jonathan Mahler, these braided Big Apple narratives reverberate to reveal a year that also saw the opening of Studio 54, the acquisition of the New York Post by Rupert Murdoch, a murderer dubbed the “Son of Sam,” the infamous blackout, and the evolution of punk rock. As Koch defeated Cuomo, and as Reggie Jackson rescued a team racked with dissension, 1977 became a year of survival–and also of hope.



11 .) Let the Great World Spin written by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin

Lists It Appears On:

  • NYPL
  • NY Times

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people. Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.” A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.



10 .) Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx written by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • Goodreads

In her extraordinary bestseller, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc immerses readers in the intricacies of the ghetto, revealing the true sagas lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour, gold-drenched drug dealers, and street-corner society. Focusing on two romances – Jessica’s dizzying infatuation with a hugely successful young heroin dealer, Boy George, and Coco’s first love with Jessica’s little brother, Cesar – Random Family is the story of young people trying to outrun their destinies. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between survival and death. Friends get murdered; the DEA and FBI investigate Boy George; Cesar becomes a fugitive; Jessica and Coco endure homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and, throughout it all, the insidious damage of poverty. Charting the tumultuous cycle of the generations – as girls become mothers, boys become criminals, and hope struggles against deprivation – LeBlanc slips behind the cold statistics and sensationalism and comes back with a riveting, haunting, and true story.



9 .) Riverdale, Kingsbridge & Spuyten Duyvil written by William A. Tieck

Riverdale, Kingsbridge & Spuyten Duyvil

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History



8 .) The Bronx: It Was Only Yesterday written by Lloyd Ultan

The Bronx: It Was Only Yesterday

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Our Old Neighborhood

Life In The Bronx Series For the past 20 years, The Bronx County Historical Society has been at work on a history of life in the borough series. In 1979, the first book, The Beautiful Bronx: 1920-1950 was published, and this was followed in 1985 by The Bronx In The Innocent Years: 1890-1925, and then in 1992 by The Bronx It Was Only Yesterday: 1935 – 1965. In 2000, The Birth of The Bronx 1609-1900 becomes the fourth in the series. Splendid works of social history, “The Life in The Bronx” series provides an engaging portrait of the mainland section of New York City at various turning points in the development of America’s growing urban society. This volume takes a close look at a period of great technological change that brought the outside world closer to The Bronx. These were the decades when entertainment shifted from enjoying movies and radio, to spending hours watching newly purchased black and white television sets; when the preferred mode of transportation changed from trolleys, buses, and subways to automobiles; when popular taste in music shifted from big bands to rock ‘n’ roll; when heretofore tranquil neighborhoods were disturbed by the clatter of construction of new highways and high-rise housing complexes. These absorbing narratives of the colorful activities of these times is complemented with rare photographs from the research archives of The Bronx County Historical Society. They offer a vivid glimpse into the wide range of changes that occurred in these years and of the elements of continuity that preserved The Bronx as a desirable residence for the countless numbers of people that chose to make it their home.



7 .) The City Boy written by Herman Wouk

The City Boy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

City Boy’ spins a hilarious and often touching tale of an urban kid’s adventures and misadventures on the street, in school, in the countryside, always in pursuit of Lucille, a heartless redhead personifying all the girls who torment and fascinate pubescent lads of eleven.



6 .) Underworld written by Don DeLillo

Underworld

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • Goodreads



5 .) Bronx Boy: A Memoir written by Jerome Charyn

Bronx Boy: A Memoir

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • NY Times
  • Our Old Neighborhood

Jerome Charyn’s three-part memoir of his boyhood in the Bronx has all the imagery and color of an enchanting and entertaining novel — someone has said that it captures the author’s world so accurately that it can’t possibly be true. Bronx Boy, like The Dark Lady of Belorusse and The Black Swan, both selected by The New York Times as Notable Books of the Year, is a tour de force of memory and imagination. In this third and final installment, the higher truths of a masterly writer’s art render moot the question of exactly where the real world ends and Charyn’s imagined world begins. Still known as “Baby” although a younger brother has come along, young Charyn makes pocket money delivering eggs, belongs to a group of 12-year-old wannabe gangsters that meet in a soda shop run by an ex-con, and spends afternoons telling stories to the adoring wife of a wealthy Russian émigré. He becomes famous for his black-and-tans — a concoction of coffee ice cream, seltzer, milk, chocolate sauce, crushed pecans — and “a touch of bitterness that may have been the Bronx.” So famous, indeed, that he walks away the winner of an annual black-and-tan contest sponsored by the real-life top gangster called “The Little Man” — Meyer Lansky. In Charyn’s hands, the often ridiculed Bronx is a magic place, as full of odd and wonderful characters as a three-ring circus. And at the center of it all, young “Baby,” not as lucky in love as he would like to be, drinking it all in, putting his own extraordinary take on it. Charyn looks back at this with his singular vision, and records it all for us with the skill of the fine writer he is.



4 .) The Beautiful Bronx 1920-1950 written by Lloyd Ultan

The Beautiful Bronx 1920-1950

Lists It Appears On:

  • Our Old Neighborhood
  • Brick Underground
  • Upper west Side History

A native Bronxite takes us back to the heyday years of the Bronx.



3 .) The Bonfire of the Vanities written by Tom Wolfe

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Lists It Appears On:

  • NYPL
  • NY Times
  • Goodreads

Sherman McCoy, the central figure of Tom Wolfe’s first novel, is a young investment banker with a fourteen-room apartment in Manhattan. When he is involved in a freak accident in the Bronx, prosecutors, politicians, the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers high and low close in on him, licking their chops and giving us a gargantuan helping of the human comedy of New York in the last years of the twentieth century, a city boiling over with racial and ethnic hostilities and burning with the itch to Grab It Now. Wolfe’s gallery ranges from Wall Street, where people in their thirties feel like small-fry if they’re not yet making a million per, to the real streets, where the aim is lower but the itch is just as virulent. We see this feverish landscape through the eyes of McCoy’s wife and his mistress; the young prosecutor for whom the McCoy case would be he answer to a prayer; the ne’er-do-well British journalist who needs such a case to save his career in America; the street-wise Irish lawyer who becomes McCoy’s only ally; and Reverend Bacon of Harlem, a master manipulator of public opinion. Above all, we see what happens when the criminal justice system-gorged with “the chow,” as the Bronx prosecutor calls the borough’s usual black and Latin felons-considers the prospect of being banded a prime cut like Sherman McCoy of Park Avenue. The Bonfire of the Vanities is a novel, but it is based on the same sort of detailed on-scene reporting as Wolfe’s great nonfiction bestsellers, The Right Stuff, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And it is every bit as eye-opening in its achievements. It is a big, panoramic story of the metropolis-the kind of fiction strangely absent from our literature in the second half of this century-that reinforces Tom Wolfe’s reputation as the foremost chronicler of the way we live in America. Source: http://tomwolfe.com



2 .) The Old Neighborhood: A Novel written by Avery Corman

The Old Neighborhood: A Novel

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • Our Old Neighborhood
  • Goodreads

A Madison Avenue adman returns to the Bronx of his youth in this New York Times bestseller by the author of Kramer vs. Kramer: “Charming” (The New York Times). Growing up in the Bronx in the 1940s, Steven Robbins was raised on egg creams, baseball stats, and the camaraderie that kept his melting-pot Bronx neighborhood humming during World War II. Robbins aspired to escape his humble roots, and eventually worked his way to Madison Avenue, where he became a hotshot ad man with an enviable wife. But as he pushes fifty and his marriage falls apart, Robbins begins yearning for a deeper happiness. Returning to his old neighborhood in the Bronx, Robbins seeks the simplicity of the life he once fled in the one place where he may ultimately find contentment. The Old Neighborhood is a warm-hearted novel that shows it is possible to go home again, or to take home with you wherever you go. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Avery Corman, including rare images from the author’s personal collection.



1 .) Billy Bathgate written by E.L. Doctorow

Billy Bathgate

Lists It Appears On:

  • NYPL
  • NY Times
  • Goodreads
  • Our Old Neighborhood

In 1930’s New York, Billy Bathgate, a fifteen-year-old highschool dropout, has captured the attention of infamous gangster Dutch Schultz, who lures the boy into his world of racketeering. The product of an East Bronx upbringing by his half-crazy Irish Catholic mother, after his Jewish father left them long ago, Billy is captivated by the world of money, sex, and high society the charismatic Schultz has to offer. But it is also a world of extortion, brutality, and murder, where Billy finds himself involved in a dangerous affair with Schultz’s girlfriend.Relive this story through the title character’s driving narrative, a child’s thoughts and feelings filtered through the sensibilities of an adult, and the result is E.L. Doctorow’s most convincing and appealing portrayal of a young boy’s life. Converging mythology and history, one of America’s most admired authors has captured the romance of gangsters and criminal enterprise that continues to fascinate the American psyche today.




The 70+ Additional Best Books About The Bronx New York



#BooksAuthorsLists
17ALL THAT I SAY IS TRUE 
Our Old Neighborhood
18ALMOST GOLDEN 
Our Old Neighborhood
19
AN IMMODEST PROPOSAL FOR ENDING AND WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR:
 
Our Old Neighborhood
20Art walks in New York: Delightful Discoveries of Public Art and Gardens in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island 
Our Old Neighborhood
21Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South BronxSonia ManzanoGoodreads
22Before the Fires: An Oral History of African American Life in the Bronx from the 1930s to the 1960sMark NaisonGoodreads
23Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope Along the Grand Concourse in the BronxConstance RosenblumGoodreads
24
Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough
 
Our Old Neighborhood
25Bronx D.A.: True Stories from the Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence UnitSarena StrausGoodreads
26Bronx NoirS.J. RozanGoodreads
27BronxwoodCoe BoothGoodreads
28Citizen: An American LyricClaudia RankineGoodreads
29City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder 
Our Old Neighborhood
30City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New YorkJack NewfieldGoodreads
31ConcourseSantino HassellGoodreads
32Cutting for StoneAbraham VergheseGoodreads
33DeadfallLinda FairsteinGoodreads
34Down These Mean StreetsPiri ThomasGoodreads
35Extracurricular ActivitiesMaggie BarbieriGoodreads
36Fierce Attachments: A MemoirVivian GornickGoodreads
37Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence, A True Story in Black and WhiteGeoffrey CanadaGoodreads
38Forgiving Maximo RothmanA.J. SidranskyGoodreads
39Growing Up Bronx 
Our Old Neighborhood
40
History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names
 
Our Old Neighborhood
41History Is All You Left MeAdam SilveraGoodreads
42How the García Girls Lost Their AccentsJulia AlvarezGoodreads
43Inside, Outside 
Our Old Neighborhood
44McNamara’s Old Bronx 
Our Old Neighborhood
45More Happy Than NotAdam SilveraGoodreads
46Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the BrainOliver SacksGoodreads
47My Beloved WorldSonia SotomayorGoodreads
48MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD REMEMBERED 
Our Old Neighborhood
49NIGHTMARE 
Our Old Neighborhood
50NO IRISH NEED APPLY 
Our Old Neighborhood
51Orchard Beach: The Bronx RivieraWayne LawrenceGoodreads
52Palante: Young Lords PartyYoung Lords PartyGoodreads
53PARKCHESTER THE GRAND OLD NEIGHBORHOOD 
Our Old Neighborhood
54Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood FriendsJohn LeguizamoGoodreads
55Poems and Tales of Edgar Allan Poe at Fordham. 
Our Old Neighborhood
56Requiem for a DreamHubert Selby Jr.Goodreads
57Rockin’ the BronxLarry KirwanGoodreads
58SEABURY PLACE: A BRONX MEMOIR 
Our Old Neighborhood
59SHOUTSJIM RYAN
Our Old Neighborhood
60Show and ProveSofia QuinteroGoodreads
61South Bronx Rising: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of an American CityJill JonnesGoodreads
62The Birth of The Bronx: 1609-1900 
Our Old Neighborhood
63The Black Swan: A Memoir 
Our Old Neighborhood
64The Boy Without a Flag: Tales of the South Bronx 
Our Old Neighborhood
65The Bronx Boy: No More Awnings in The Bronx 
Our Old Neighborhood
66The Bronx: Lost, Found, and Remembered (1935-1975) 
Our Old Neighborhood
67The Bronx: The Ultimate Guide to New York City’s Beautiful BoroughLloyd UltanGoodreads
68The Buddha Book 
Our Old Neighborhood
69THE COMPLETE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POEEdgar Allan PoeGoodreads
70The Dark Lady from Belorusse: A Memoir 
Our Old Neighborhood
71The Fifth Avenue Artists SocietyJoy CallawayGoodreads
72The Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City-and Determined the Future of CitiesJoe FloodGoodreads
73The Kingsbridge Plot 
Our Old Neighborhood
74The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New YorkRobert A. CaroGoodreads
75
The REMARKABLE LIFE OF KITTY MCINERNEY” :
 
Our Old Neighborhood
76The Revolution of Evelyn SerranoSonia ManzanoGoodreads
77The Ryer Avenue Story 
Our Old Neighborhood
78The Wanderers 
Our Old Neighborhood
79The War at Home 
Our Old Neighborhood
80They Both Die at the EndAdam SilveraGoodreads
81TOMORROW, MICKEY, TOMORROW 
Our Old Neighborhood
82TROUBLE AT RED WALL 
Our Old Neighborhood
83
Urban Mythologies: The Bronx Represented Since the 1960s
 
Our Old Neighborhood
84We Used to Own the Bronx: Memoirs of a Former DebutanteEve PellGoodreads
85What If It’s UsBecky AlbertalliGoodreads
86When the Bronx BurnedJohn J. FinucaneGoodreads
87Where You Belong 
Our Old Neighborhood
88Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?: Teaching Lessons from the BronxIlana GaronGoodreads
89World’s Fair 
Our Old Neighborhood
90
YOU CAN’T TAKE THE BRONX OUT OF THE BOY MY DAD
 
Our Old Neighborhood


6 Best Bronx New York Book Sources/Lists



SourceArticle
Brick Underground The 25 best books about the history of New York City’s boroughs
Goodreads Popular Bronx Books
NY Times Acclaimed Novels and Memoirs That Call the Bronx Home
NYPL The Best New York City Novels by Neighborhood
Our Old Neighborhood book about the BRONX – The Old Neighborhood
Upper west Side History The 25 best books about the history of New York City’s boroughs and neighborhoods

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