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The Tenement Museum Summer 2017 Reading List

June 21, 2017



School may be out for summer (and, for some of you, forever), but that’s no reason to slack on your summer reading! Here are our book recommendations that are perfect for any occasion that pops up this hot and hazy summer, available at our widely popular Tenement Museum bookstore and gift shop.


Bowery-Boys-Book-Cover4Book to read at the beach/pool/lake/soaking in a cold bathThe Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York: An Unconventional Exploration of Manhattan’s Historic Neighborhoods, Secret Spots and Colorful Characters by Greg Young & Tom Meyers.

The official companion to their award-winning podcast, Young and Meyers provide an in-depth and exclusive look into the New York City of yesterday. In between cooling off with dips in the body of water of your choice, become absorbed in these strange and memorable guides through Hell’s Kitchen, Columbus Circle, The Bowery, Astor Place, Foley Square, Little Italy, Chinatown, and more. So stay hydrated: quench that thirst for fascinating urban history, and also drink plenty of water if you’re going to be in the sun for too long.

Also recommendManhattan Mafia Guide by Eric Ferrara


upintheoldhotel_webBook to read when the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm traps you inside for the rest of the dayUp in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, David Remnick

This anthology of essays written in the 1940s and 50s by Mitchell for The New Yorker offers a peek into the lives of some of New York’s most interesting and colorful characters. A bearded lady, street preachers, gypsies, saloon-keepers, steel-walking Mohawks – all will keep you riveted as the storm rolls overhead. Mitchell’s darkly humorous but respectful observations create the perfect tone to portray the city in all its oddness.

Also recommend –  City of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder


waterfront_1Book to read when you’re stuck underground in a sweaty, delayed train car for over an hourWaterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Philip Lopate

If you can’t just get out and walk already, let Lopate describe the city you’re missing as he walks over every inch of it – East Side, West Side, from the Little Red Lighthouse to Battery Park City. Explore the city you can’t see underground, as he shows you the history of each spot, while appraising today’s developers and environmental activists. If yet another signal problem doesn’t encourage you to walk part of your commute, perhaps these stories of Captain Kidd and Robert Moses will.

Also recommendMole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City by Jennifer Toth


brisket_1Book to make you the STAR of your next barbecue or neighborhood potluck – The Brisket Book by Stephanie Pierson

Hotdogs and hamburgers? Those guys are fine, sure, whatever. But delicious brisket will have a line forming at your grill for miles. Pierson provides more than just your average cookbook. She offers color photos, cooking tips, chef interviews, illustrations, graphics and butcher wisdom, all aimed to ensure your best brisket ever. Some of the recipes include Barbecue Brisket Sandwiches with Firecracker Sauce, Scandinavian Aquavit Brisket, and a 100% Foolproof Bride’s Brisket. Get cooking!

Also recommendThe Meatball Shop Cookbook by Daniel Holzman, Michael Chernow and Lauren Deen.


citizenshipquiz_1Book to read if you want to be extra patriotic this Fourth of JulyThe Great American Citizenship Quiz by Solomon M. Skolnick.

Civics, geography, history – the best of middle school social studies all come together to compile the official USCIS citizenship quiz. Though they ask you to study over 100 facts about America, you’re only expected to answer, verbally, six out of ten randomly chosen questions. This is a great addition to any Independence Day party. I can say from experience, having had to study for the real test only a couple years ago, there’s nothing more entertaining than watching native-born citizens trying to answer these after having a few drinks in them.

Also recommendMachine Made: Tammany Hall and The Creation of Modern American Politics by Terry Golway


howtobeanexploreroftheworld_1Book to read if you want to keep your kid busy for more than five minutes – How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith.

This isn’t your average activity book. It’s a portable life museum, and the mission is simple, “Document and observe the world around you. As if you’ve never seen it before.” Kids will be instructed to take notes, collect things, document findings, notice patterns, copy, trace, focus, record. They’ll acted as scientists, researchers, artists, and historians with interactive, beautiful presented prompts. It’s never too early to encourage wonder at the world around you.

Also recommendLet’s Make Some Great Art by Marion Deuchars


Your purchases help support the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. And great books help support yourself. Take advantage of those extra daylight hours, and get reading!