So you live in the city – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philly – or a city (LA, Austin, Portland, etc.), and you’re raising a family. There’s no doubt about it; raising kids in the city is way different than raising them in the suburbs. Sending kids out to play on the front lawn isn’t really a thing, and apartment, brownstone, or loft living is the norm. Reading books about white picket fences and minivans, then, doesn’t exactly resonate.
Here are some books to throw in your bag on your way out the door, to read on the subway, metro, BART, or Uber. There’s no shortage of stories set in cities, but these are some of my favorites, both new and older.
Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin
Martin, an anthropologist, looks at Manhattan’s Upper East Side as her very own research lab after moving there from downtown. It’s a deliciously savage look at a neighborhood, and despite all of the stereotypes that may actually be true, she manages to bring a personal touch to it. I read this when I was pregnant, and I was so glad I’d moved out of NYC by then, after reading it.
Momzillas by Jill Kargman
I believe this is the book that the show Odd Mom Out was based on, but the book is so much better. Reminiscent of Primates of Park Avenue, this is the fictionalized version. A fun read, especially for the end-of-summer/beginning of school transition time. Brain candy, if you will.
Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro
There are those people you love to hate…and if you live in the city, you’ll instantly recognize the type of parents Fierro perfectly captures in this novel (cough, cough **Brooklynites**). This group of thirty-something friends who gather at a Long Island beach house brings full sets of matching baggage (of the emotional kind), but it’s unpacked artfully well in this amusing story.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Full disclosure: I write with Karina at Book Riot – but even if I didn’t, I’d be recommending this magical YA book. Yes, it’s YA, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. City mamas will love this story about a family living in Harlem that needs to find a way to renew their lease in a matter of days. It perfectly captures the spirit of family and the city. One of the best things? If you have a middle-grade or YA reader, you can share this story with them, too.
If you’re a mama of a certain age, you’ll recognize Gore’s name from her zine of the 90s/aughts, Hip Mama. The zine is now a magazine, and Gore is still writing – in fact, she has a book coming out this fall, We Were Witches. This book collects an assortment of writing on all topics of parenting, with an honest, urban, funny, and spirited tone.
Extra Credit book (I couldn’t resist adding this one!):
Urban Babies wear Black by Michelle Sinclair Colman and Nathalie Dion
This is an adorable board book that any city mama will appreciate. If you like this one, there are also board books about Rocker Babies, Foodie Babies, and others.
What are some of your favorite books, city mamas?