written by:
February 19, 2011
Originally published in We Love New York

Holly Hotchner knows New York. Here, the born-and-bred Manhattanite—and director of the Museum of Arts and Design—shares her picks for books that symbolize the spirit of her city.

Modern books about New York
Holly Hotchner's selection of books that symbolize the spirit of New York City.
Courtesy of 
Peter Belanger
Modern books about New York
Holly Hotchner's selection of books that symbolize the spirit of New York City.

1. Just Kids
by Patti Smith
Ecco, $16
“Smith chronicles her move to the city in the ’60s, when there were a lot of bohemians who came to craft their lives. It will conjure up anything you’ve ever seen, read, or listened to from that period.”

2. Marisol: Works 1960–2007 exhibition catalog
Neuhoff Gallery
(out of print)
“I rediscovered Marisol through this exhibition. It was a real revelation how good her work was—–figurative constructions out of wood and found materials, jewelry and sculpture—–and how well it stood up.”

3. AIA Guide to New York City
by Norval White, Elliot Willensky, and Fran Leadon
Oxford University Press, $40
“White and Willensky are wonder-ful New York historians who give a fascinating narrative through the city’s built landscape. This is full of juicy stuff.”

4. Let the Great World Spin
by Colum McCann
Random House, $25
“McCann brilliantly captures the period in 1974 when tightrope walker Philippe Petit aspired to conquer the World Trade Center by walking between the Twin Towers. I happen to have been born on September 11, so I feel particularly connected to that whole story now.”

5. Tara Donovan

by Nicholas Baume, Jen Mergel, and Lawrence Weschler
The Monacelli Press in association with the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, $45
“Tara Donovan takes everyday objects and makes them into extra-ordinary works of art. It’s absolutely beautiful what she can do with a button or a Styrofoam cup.”

6. Manhattan Skyscrapers
by Eric Nash, photography
by Norman McGrath
Princeton Architectural Press, $50
“We are a city identified by our skyscrapers—–they are so much a part of who we are. Norman McGrath’s fabulous photography is complemented by old archival images, architectural drawings, interior views, and more.”

7. Charles Simonds
Text by Kosme de Barañano,
David Anfam, Lucy Lippard, and Charles Simonds
Ivam Institut Valenciá D’art Modern, $25
“A quintessential New York artist. He is going to do a site-specific piece in a little pointed corner of MAD that’s just quirky enough to interest him.”

8. Cars, Culture, and the City
by Donald Albrecht andPhil Patton
Museum of the City of New York, $25
“We don’t associate the city with automobiles, but there’s a rich history of the industry here. This gives a different view, from horse and carriage to cable car to taxicab.”


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