Once upon a few weeks ago, we were pretty psyched to write a post about books set in the places we are from. You might already know that Magan hails in Austin, Texas and Estelle floats around New York (living in Long Island and commuting to NYC for work every day). Unfortunately, not all plans work out the way we want them to. Here’s just what happened:
magan:Â what’s the deal, Austin?
SoÂ I am pretty disappointed by the lack of books set in Austin.Â I, personally, haven’t read a single one.
There’s so much here to fall in love with. Austin is a city with a small town kind of feel. We’re trendy in our own ways — we make Toms shoes cool and riding bicycles is something we actually do for fun (and hey, it helps the environment, too). T-shirts and shorts are perfectly acceptable in most restaurants because we’ve got a laid back kind of vibe. Our summers are hot, but we’ve got lakes and natural pools (HamiltonÂ pool) to keep us tan and cooled off during the summer months. We’re dog-rescuing, music-loving, Alamo Drafthouse-moving-watching kinda folks. (Yep, that’s right y’all – our movie theaters serve food AND ADULT BEVERAGES). We’re a wide mix of cultures – a definite melting pot of people. Austin is the city that sticks out on the map of Texas in the sea of red during election years. Austin is a city that’s hard to leave behind (I speak from experience — we tried to move away and came back after a year).
So tell me, why aren’t there more books set in Austin?
While we brainstorm this conundrum, lemme say that NYC never fails to entrance me with its lights and fast-paced ways. (In fact, way back when, I thought I might actually move there.) So I’m sharing my three favorite books with fabulous NY settings:
BunheadsÂ by Sophie Flack: a 19-year old girl has to decide if she wants to continue pursuing a career as a professional ballerina. She’s tempted to throw away all her hard work for an NYU boy.
Take a BowÂ by Elizabeth Eulberg: four performing art school students in NYC try to figure out their lives and what they’ll move on to accomplish post-graduation.
Where She WentÂ (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman: Adam reconnects with Mia after one of her performances at the symphony in NYC. As they reconnect, they explore the city.
(Observation: It seems my picks are all performance driven. Is that ME and what i’m attracted to reading? Or is that what’s available?)
estelle:Â the riches of new york.
New York City is a hot spot that sits on the highest pedestal. Even someone like me, who grew up in New Jersey, could never get over the majesty of NYC. I loved the bright lights, the bustling people, how it seemed like everything was always happening there. Even though I grew up only 10 miles away, my parents would take my sister and I into the city one time a year. I remember how much fun those days were and also how miserable it was to leave — because just like Christmas, I would have to wait an entire year to visit again. These days, sometimes I want to pinch myself because I get to spend every day walking the streets of NYC (when I’m not hanging out in theÂ fluorescentÂ lights of my office) or call a doctor because well, New York can be entirely overwhelming.
When it comes to books about this crazy town, I do enjoy both the tourist treat and the locals who make living in the big city seem like a walk in the park. Here are a few of my “big apple” picks:
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg:Â An oldie but goodie from my elementary school days. Siblings run away to the MET. This book is all about adventure and mystery.
Love StoryÂ by Jennifer Echols:Â I spent two years of my undergrad at a school in NYC and I related to Erin’s character a lot (although I wasn’t writing sultry romance pieces… I can only imagine how my class would react to that). I liked reading about a college age kid in NYC for the first time and in an environment I could picture so well.
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan:Â David does a beautiful job of of describing the initial reactions to 9/11 and how it affects three people. This book was so on target, so emotional, and for someone who experienced 9/11 from a close distance (if that makes sense), it felt very true to the mixed bag of feelings — the grief, the disconnect, the healing — penetrating the area at this time.
I’ve read two of the only books we’ve found to be set in Austin:
Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker: Country music, Austin landmarks, and a cowboy next door. This book is so much fun and offers a lot more than the cover promises.
Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham: …and it feels so good! (I couldn’t help myself.) I just finished this book about 3 ex-best friends who find themselves on a road trip to see their favorite band perform in Austin. Honestly, very little time is spent on Austin but hey, it still makes an important appearance.
As a two-time tourist and lover of this town (because two of my best friends live here and it just has an awesome overall feeling), I thought one of these captured the fab-ness of Austin best. I like how both of them had some sort of musical plotline. Seems like NYC and Austin have that in common.
We want to hear from you. Are there any locales you would like to see represented in your reading pile? Also, if you know of any Austin-ish books, please share!
other places to run off to:
alexa: dreams of traveling (book locales)
novel sounds: soundtracking your reading adventures
alexa: alaska with kristilynn (guest post)
giveaway: kissing shakespeare by pam tingle (time travel)
alexa: getting to your destination (through reading)
novel sounds: let’s go visit harry potter (please)
alexa: intro & birthday giveaway (yay)