Today We’re All Boston Strong: 5 Novels That Celebrate The City of Boston


photo by Anna Patrick

By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist

No matter what city you call home, or what sports team you support, we’re all Bostonians today. Today marks the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, and while there are memories from this day last year that we would rather forget, our hearts remember the pride we have for our country and for the people of Boston.

A year ago I stood at mile 21, a senior at Boston College cheering on friends who were coming through the Heartbreak Hill portion of the race, which winds through our hilly campus. Living on the Chesnut Hill side of Commonwealth Avenue the runners raced past my door all day. Until suddenly everything stopped.

But as I reflect today, I remember the Boston Marathon for what it truly is, what it really means to the city of Boston and the nation as a whole, beyond the darkness of the events that transpired – it is a celebration of human achievement and the spirit of man. I remember the look on runners’ faces as they came through Heartbreak Hill, and the light in their eyes when they saw us cheering them onward. I remember their elation, and the fighting look on their faces, drenched in sweat and still smiling, as they headed down home stretch. I remember the runners, men and women, soldiers and athletes in wheelchairs, giving it their all for the sport and city they love. I remember what it feels like to be one.

Today we send our thoughts and energy to Boston, and to those still healing a year later. We celebrate the city, and all of the athletes who continue to awe us at the marathon each year by defying human limitations.

In honor of the city, which has always prided itself on being a literary city, here are five great books that take place in Boston:


Boston_TheBellJarThe Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel. When it was originally published in 1963 it was published under her pseudonym, “Victoria Lucas.” The story begins in the suburbs of Boston, and follows protagonist Esther Greenwood as she accepts an internship in New York City. The work is famous for Plath’s ability to write an emotionally-wrenching and intensely raw account of a woman losing her grip on her own sanity.






Boston_NathanHawthorneThe Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

A nod to a classic, The Scarlet Letter is set it Puritan Boston from 1642-1649, and famously paints the story of protagonist Hester Prynne, who partakes on a journey to gain repentence and dignity in a society that shuns her for heaving a daughter through an adulterous affair. Our society is put under a microscope as the novel explores timeless themes, such as sin, legality, and guilt. The book also gives a view of what Puritan life and culture was like in Boston at the start of the country.






TBoston_HandmaidsTalehe Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel set in Boston in the near future. The book is included on many Goodreads lists, including some called “Best Books Ever” and “Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction.” Atwood certainly earns her praises as she gives us a glimpse at what living in a futuristic totalitarian Christian theocracy. A major theme that Atwood explores is women in subjugation, and how these women gain agency.





Boston_JhumpaLahiriThe Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

Lahiri’s The Namesake explored the conflict of being caught between cultures, and features the cities of Boston, New York, and Calcutta. The story follows a Bengali couple, and their difficulties dealing with cities that have highly distinct social, religious, and ideological differences. From India the couple moves to Central Square in Cambridge, where the husband, Ashoke, is an engineering student at MIT.





Boston_HenryJamesThe Bostonians, Henry James

As is reflected by the title, Henry James captured a unique side of Boston when he penned The Bostonians, a tragicomedy that introduces readers to a triumverate of odd characters: a political conservative from Mississippi (Basil Ransom), a feminist Bostonian (Olive Ransom), and Olive’s protégée Verena Tarrant. The Bostonians is unique in the sense that thematically it is strictly political, unlike his other works.






So wherever you are today, let’s remember Boston, and the great runners that come to the city every year to redefine what we thought was humanly possible. Let’s remember what it means to be one.


Related: Meet Our MC Team: Anna Patrick


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