Tribute to Literary Boston
Our attention was focused on the tragedy in Boston and subsequent manhunt all last week. Thank goodness– and thanks to the people of the city and surrounding towns, and thanks to law enforcement personnel–the drama finally came to an end.
I want to remind people that it is always a good idea to plan travel to Boston, one of the most fascinating cities in the country. The Boston Marathon draws International crowds, and will continue to do so. Additionally, the delightful mix of neighborhoods, the history, outstanding museums, lively nightlife, and the wonderful Boston Commons all beckon travelers. So today, instead of our regular programming, I thought I would suggest some reading about literary Boston, and suggest some travel to the city via books set in Boston. (You are definitely invited and encouraged to leave a comment with your own favorite Boston book or author.)
The first time we visited Boston, in a very hot August, we cursed the traffic on Massachusetts Avenue. What a contrast last week when the city was shut down and streets were empty.
Boston has always been a literary city, and you can learn more about Boston for book-loving travelers in this article that ran back in 2009 at A Traveler’s Library, about a literary Boston walking guide and some history of the city.
Speaking of history, we also talked about Boston history in a couple of other articles.
- This article talks about books about John Adams (2008)and the Revolutionary war, 1776, (2007) both by David McCullough.
- The author of Walking Boston (2008), Robert Todd Felton, wrote about this little gem of France in Boston.
- Literary Trail of Greater Boston: A Tour of Sites (2005) by Susan Wilson is another guide to touring the literary Boston.
- And if you want to understand Boston, you need to understand the Pilgrims, dissected in the book Mayflower(2007).
A couple of other non-fiction history books that I haven’t read, but other people recommend:
- Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill (1999) by Richard Ketchum
- Paul Revere’s Ride (1995) by David Hackett Fischer
Historical novels recommended by various articles on the Internet, especially a long thread at Library Thing:
- The Bostonians (1886) by Henry James
- The Late George Apley (1938) by John Marquand. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
- Dark Tide by Stephen Puleo (2004) about the 1919 molasses flood.
Moving into more contemporary subjects, you can find a slew of detective books set in Boston.
- The most famous is probably Spenser. I wrote about using Spenser mysteries as a guide to Boston.
- Lately I’ve become addicted to the TV series, Rizzoli and Isles, based on a series of (so far) ten mysteries by Tess Gerritsen, starring the characters and set in the Boston police department.
- Highly recommended on Library Thing: The Dante Club (2003) by Matthew Pearl, a mystery featuring prominent literary figures from Boston during the 19th century. I want to read this one!
Looking for a different genre? Here are some recommendations from the Internet:
- Science Fiction, eco-thriller: Zodiac (2007) by Neal Stephenson
- Chick Lit: Hot and Bothered by Anne Downey (2006)
- Children’s Book ( A MUST before visiting Boston Commons!): Make Way for Ducklings (1966, with many later editions) by Robert McCloskey
- Local Author: Dennis Lehane, who wrote Mystic River (2002 and many later editions). It was a novel before it was a movie.
I know that I have only scratched the surface, so why don’t you join in to this literary tribute to Boston and recommend your favorite Boston book?