Notable Beantown Reads

Article by Danielle

Our booksellers, like all Americans, have been thinking a lot about the great city of Boston this week. Whether you’re a Beantown native, an occasional visitor, or a stranger to the city, you may find yourself more interested than usual in our neighbors. Here’s a list of some of our favorite novels set in the Boston area. -Danielle

The Scarlet Letter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ruben Toledo (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143105442
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - August 1st, 2009

This classic tale of love and power follows Hester Prynne, a Puritan woman accused of adultery and shunned by the Boston community of which she was once a part.

The Bostonians Cover Image
By Henry James, A. S. Byatt (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780812969962
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Modern Library - December 9th, 2003

A brilliant, bracing satire of the early women’s rights movement that was one of the first American novels to seriously engage with the questions of sexual politics, this novel is also an incisive portrait of turn-of-the-century Boston.

The Bell Jar Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061148514
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - June 11th, 2013

Although Plath’s autobiographical novel famously begins in a girl’s boarding house in New York City, Plath is eventually taken to the much-lauded MacLean Psychiatric Hospital in Belmont, MA, which is now operated by Harvard.

The Handmaid's Tale Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385490818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - March 13th, 1998

Atwood’s troubling modern classic is set in a nearly unrecognizable dystopian United States, specifically in what was once the Harvard Square neighborhood of Cambridge, MA.

Little Children Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312315733
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Griffin - January 1st, 2005

This chilling story of suburban desperation is set outside of Boston, where a cast of thirty-something parents confront the dangers of both their exterior and interior worlds one summer when a convicted child molester moves back to town.

The Namesake Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618485222
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 1st, 2004

Lahiri’s first novel tells the story of the Ganguli family, who leave their tradition-bound lives in Calcutta behind to pursue opportunities in Cambridge, MA. Their son, Gogol, born in the United States and much more fully Americanized than his parents, attempts to understand the world through the twin lenses of immigrant and native son.

Infinite Jest Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316920049
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little Brown and Company - February 1st, 1996

Although Wallace’s famously enormous novel is much too wide-ranging to have just one setting, both the halfway house and tennis academy in the book are both located in and near Boston, an area with which Wallace was familiar due to his time pursuing double bachelor degrees at Amherst College.

Make Way for Ducklings Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670451494
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers -

Sure, it’s not exactly a novel, but we couldn’t resist. DUCKLINGS often serves as literary kids’ first introduction to Boston! McCloskey’s gorgeous and distinctive illustrations follow a mother duck and her row of adorable ducklings as they travel across ducklings looking for the perfect home in the Boston Public Gardens, where duck tours are now a staple of family tourism.

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