The Best Books Set in Philadelphia

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Whether you are from the great city of Philadelphia, planning a visit, or just are looking for a good book I have some recommendations for you which all take place in the city of Brotherly Love (actually I heard they changed it to Sisterly Love for 2020, can anyone confirm?). 

When I plan a trip I love to try and read a book or watch a movie set in the place I'm going. Like reading A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway before a trip to Paris or Nine Lives by Dan Baum before visiting New Orleans (both are excellent by the way and you should add to your TBR). 

Being from the Greater Philadelphia Area, and living within the city since 2014 I love when I find a good book which is set within the city I love so much. 


1// Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson : Set in 1793 (duh) in Philadelphia during the yellow fever outbreak. This is a children's/young adult book but I think adults would enjoy it too. The story follows Mattie, a young girl working in her family's coffeehouse with dreams of expanding the business into a larger enterprise. As more and more people fall ill in the city reality shatters the world Mattie has inhabited thus far. 

2// Long Bright River by Liz Moore : Set in current day Philadelphia, this book was just released in January 2020. Alternating between past and present, the story follows Mickey, a patrol officer in Philadelphia's 24th district (Kensington). Mickey and her sister Kacey were brought up in Fishtown by their grandmother following the death of their mother via drug overdose. While Mickey has taken a path in law enforcement, her sister has gone down the dark path of addiction. When several women are found murdered in Kensington around the same time Mickey realizes she has not seen her sister around the streets for sometime, Mickey works to try to find her sister while also getting clues about who might be committing the homicides in the neighborhood, This book was dark, gritty, and sad at times. It was very well written and gave a raw look at the opioid epidemic which rages on in Philadelphia (and many other US cities. It has some twists along the way and was easy to get into. I highly recommend. 

3// Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid : Another new release, I have not personally read this book (I'm on the waitlist at the library). Therefore, here is the brief synopsis from Amazon: 

"Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times."

4// Silver Linings Playbook by Mathew Quick : You've probably heard of this one because of the movie starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. But it is still worthwhile to give the book a read! The book is always better right? The Eagles play a central role in the story of Pat and Tiffany, there's a love story, and it is set in Philly. Pat is having a hard time getting over Nikki, his estranged wife, at the same time the Eagles are on a losing streak and he is being pursued by Tiffany, his odd neighbor. Pat's therapist has some odd suggestions and there's dancing involved. Say no more right?

5// The Dutch House by Ann Patchet : Another book in my TBR pile - but still I've heard some great things from my friends who have read it! Also, if you like audiobooks I've heard Tom Hanks narrates this one! From Amazon: 

"At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.
The story is told by Cyril's son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.
Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they're together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they've lost with humor and rage. But when at last they're forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested."

Some other Philly inspired book purchases include the following cookbooks by Philly based chefs!
House of Cheese by Tenaya Darlington - A book about cheese pairings and recipes from the famous Di Bruno Brothers cheese shop, based in the Italian Market neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Zahav - A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solmonov : Zahav is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. And while it might be difficult to get a reservation, now you can make some of Solmonov's recipes at home.
Pizza Camp by Joe Beddia : For Pizza lovers (everyone) the creator of Pizzeria Beddia in Philly has a treat for you. From basics about sauce and dough to delicious recipes you will be whipping up delicious pizza creations in your home. 

Do you have any great city-based booked recommendations? I'd love to hear - especially if they're set in Philly!


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