Back in the day, when I was living in a small Massachusetts town, I used books (as most kids do) to escape the space I found myself in. Within the pages of my favorite novels, I could find myself anywhere. One day in Hogwarts, the next in Bed-Stuy, I discovered the transformational power of books to experience new places is the most liberating and empowering part of being a literary person. I think that’s when I first fell in love with New York City. It was only 200 miles away but to a kid who lived in a town that didn’t have a high school, NYC was pretty much otherworldly.
Once I moved here, the fascination didn’t end. There are still subway lines I haven’t used, neighborhoods I haven’t explored, and so many amazing bars and restaurants I can’t afford to eat in (yet). And as my fascination grew I became even more obsessed over New York-based literature, collecting New York novels and jotting down all the places I wanted to find myself. Whether stalking the streets of Lower Manhattan with Joe Goldberg in YOU or exploring the shipyards of MANHATTAN BEACH,New York novels throughout time all have an adventure-like quality, begging you to join.
And so without further ado, welcome to the start of Off the Shelf’s Literary Landmarks! I’ve compiled some of my favorite New York stories and made maps for you to follow along the adventure! With each location, you can read book quotes from where these characters experienced this incredible city.
My first map is for one of my all-time favorite New York thrillers—YOU by Caroline Kepnes. Trace the steps of Joe and Beck by exploring the map below.
Here are a few of my favorite photos from some of the locations from the book, hot off the mean streets of NYC!