Inside Story

Everyone loves the staff-picks shelf at the bookstore. Especially us! In that spirit, here’s a selection of books we’ve loved through the years that are set in the area.


Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

Summer, by Edith Wharton

If your introduction to Wharton was the high school staple Ethan Frome, don’t let that keep you from Summer, a sexier novella that shares some plot points and the rural New England setting—but that Wharton amusingly called her “hot Ethan.” —Eric Randall

Dancing After Hours, by Andre Dubus

In the ’80s, Dubus wrote short stories about divorce, adultery, and the Navy. But after an accident that left him unable to walk, his stories became softer, fuller, and more shadowed with compassion. This final collection of short stories takes place in the Merrimack Valley, Boston, and the North Shore. —S. I. Rosenbaum

Strong Motion, by Jonathan Franzen

Long before his much-heralded suburban sagas, Franzen wrote surreal urban fiction, like this conspiracy thriller in which a twentysomething hero seeks the cause of a rash of earthquakes striking Boston. —Matthew Reed Baker

Black Mass, by Dick Lehrand Gerard O’Neill

Two ace Globe reporters tell the gritty story of how the Southie gangster Whitey Bulger murdered, conned, and terrorized his way through Boston for two decades. —Patrick Doyle

The Rascal King, by Jack Beatty

It came out more than 20 years ago, but this is still a romp of a read: the wild story of Boston’s most infamous mayor, James Michael Curley (who spent part of his fourth term in jail). A perfect pick for this mayoral election year. —Toby Lester

The Gardner Heist, by Ulrich Boser

When the legendary art detective Harold Smith died in 2005, the reporter Ulrich Boser picked up where he left off, turning himself into an amateur investigator and digging into the haunting case of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist. —Melissa Malamut

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, by Nick Flynn

A book that revolves around an author’s reunion with his estranged, homeless father might seem heavy for summer reading, but Flynn provides an intimate portrait of the city, and the pages fly by. —Jason Schwartz

Live By Night, by Dennis Lehane

Lehane’s sequel to The Given Day—a historical novel about Boston in 1919—is slated to be a Ben Affleck movie, which means you’re going to have to read it eventually. It has all the elements of a classic gangster novel. —Steve Annear