7 Books That Capture The Spirit of Philadelphia

by Amy Sachs

When most people think about what makes Philadelphia unique, they likely think of cheesesteaks, cream cheese, or a cracked bell. As many Philadelphians are known to argue, we are so much more than that! There are the sports fans who remain some of the most loyal and outspoken around. There's the years and years of history throughout not just the city, but the state of Pennsylvania as a whole. And, yes, it's more than just the Liberty Bell. Plus, we have more beautiful bookstores than most other major cities.

There are probably more books than I can begin to count set in New York City. It makes sense. It is the city that never sleeps, after all. But for being just a few short hours away, and a major city in its own right, I can't help but think Philadelphia gets the short end of the deal. There is so much to love about the city, and so much to do, why aren't more books set here? I set out to round up some of the best books set in the good old City of Brotherly Love, so readers can really get a sense of the spirit of the city. Here are 7 books that perfectly capture that spirit.

1. 2 A.M. At The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

There's nothing like Christmas in Philadelphia. We may not have the tree of Rockefeller Center, but the spirit is at an all-time high during the holidays. The lights, the charm, it all comes to life from November-January, and we wouldn't trade it for anything. Marie-Helene Bertino captures that magic with the magical-realism and childlike wonder of Madeleine Altimari in 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas, the perfect Philadelphia Christmas read around.

Click here to buy.

2. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse-Anderson

Part of the spirit of Philadelphia is all the history that lies within its streets. Fever 1793 tells an important piece of that historical story, though an unpleasant one. Laurie Halse-Anderson tells the story of Mattie Cook, a 14 year old during the fateful summer of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia, and captures the history of the city during a very difficult time.

Click here to buy.

3. Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos

If there is one thing Philly has plenty of, it's coffee shops. It's no surprise then, that Maria de los Santos' novel, Love Walked In starts off in a hip coffee shop. Cornelia's life is changed forever the day Martin walks into the coffee shop she manages, and the story unfolds from there. A Philadelphia love story set in a coffee shop — what could be better?

Click here to buy.

4. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

“Hell is an Eagles game where the bleachers are always freezing, the team is always losing, and my family is insane.” If this quote from In Her Shoes doesn't capture the spirit of Philadelphia in a nutshell, I'm not sure what could.

Click here to buy.

5. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Silver Linings Playbook was probably one of the most prominent Philadelphia stories in recent years, and for good reason. Matthew Quick's novel is hilarious and heart warming, and the film following it was perfectly cast and set. The Eagles are a focal point of this novel, and I would be crazy to create any kind of Philadelphia-themed list and leave them out. Matthew Quick perfectly captures the intensity of Eagles fans, and hilariously nails Eagles fans' inclination to be superstitious on game day.

Click here to buy.

6. Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

Philly is home to some nationally renowned hospitals, from CHOP to Penn Medicine. Every Fifteen Minutes focuses on Eric Parrish, a doctor working in a hospital in Philadelphia that has just been ranked number two in the nation. Born in Philly herself, it's no surprise that Lisa Scottoline was able to capture the city perfectly!

Click here to buy.

7. Dr. Mütter's Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Most pieces of Philadelphia history are taught to us in our high school history classes: the American Revolution, The Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross, the list goes on and on. For a Hamilton fan like myself, I love all that stuff now more than ever. But the medical history of the city is so often overlooked, it makes books like Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz's Dr. Mutter's Marvels more important than ever. This work of nonfiction focuses on the important medical work and research done in Philadelphia during the mid-nineteenth century.

Click here to buy.

Image: amysachs/Instagram