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A List of Books That Take Place in Hudson County

by Erica Commisso
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Hudson County is full of rich history, amazing stories and colorful tales of friendship, tragedy, and beauty. Literature is a great way to celebrate the lives Hudson County locals lead whether it be with real stories or fictional tales. Luckily, many authors love to tell stories of the Mile Square, Jersey City, and the rest of the amazing HC cities. To honor this, we’ve rounded up a list of books that take place in Hudson County — from children’s stories and historical retellings to fictional tales of love, loss, and murder.   

Coming Back To Me  by Caroline Leavitt

Settled in Hudson County, soulmates Gary and Molly are over the moon to have found each other and quickly settle into married life. Molly is excited to find herself pregnant, but things start to go awry shortly after she leaves for the hospital — her husband is left alone with a newborn baby and a mountain of medical bills. Coming Back To Me tackles hope, love, marriage, and redemption. And, it comes with a strong recommendation — author Jodi Picoult has recommended Leavitt’s work. 

Death In A Hot Flash by Jane Isenberg

Isenberg is a writing teacher in New Jersey and many of her books take place in her home state. Death In A Hot Flash is the second book in her Bel Barrett mystery series. The romantic suspense novel takes place at a Jersey City funeral and foul play is definitely involved in the mysterious death of her coworker. A born-again ex-con is the prime suspect, and amateur sleuth Barrett, who daylights as a writing teacher at Jersey City Community College, is ready to face the case head on. 

Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront by Nathan Ward

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Nathan Ward tells the dark crime story of the violent war for the New York waterfront, a fight waged by mobsters and originally covered by journalist Mike Johnson. Johnson discovered the “waterfront jungle” with the New York City skyline as a backdrop —today’s Hoboken waterfront parks —and followed the underworld dealings from Manhattan, including racketeering and gang activity from Jersey City’s Charlie Yanowsky, who was eventually ice-picked to death. His reporting inspired the movie On The Waterfront, one of the most famous movies shot in Hoboken. 

Read more: 4 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List ASAP

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The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater

This 1977 children’s book was written and illustrated by Daniel Pinkwater and his wife Jill, and follows the story of Henrietta the giant chicken, who turns Hoboken upside down. It was even turned into a TV movie in 1984. 

The Rest Stop by M.L. Jacobs

Jeff and Jeanine met on the internet and have been talking and texting for three months. They meet in a chat room, and Jeanine thinks Jeff is the perfect cure for her loneliness. They agree to meet at a fictional, popular Hudson County motel called The RestStop, but soon learn they both have dark pasts. Secrets, lies, and sinister pasts abound, the couple’s first face-to-face meeting is not what either person expected. 

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume

Elizabeth native Judy Blume’s book follows Tony Miglione, who’s life gets uprooted when his dad relocates to Long Island from Jersey City. His family is growing unrecognizable, becoming distant, and behaving differently, and Tony feels like things are taking a turn for the worst.  

Hoboken Fish and Chicago Whistle by Daniel Pinkwater

This collection of radio essays, previously broadcasted on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” focuses on the author’s dogs, his misadventures as an art student before he dropped out, and his nights in Hoboken, where he lived in a loft after getting a job at NPR and moving out of Chicago, where he grew up. 

See more: Who Discovered Hoboken? A Brief History

Big Day Coming by Jesse Jarnow

In Big Day Coming, Jarnow tells the story of Hoboken’s Yo La Tengo, who rose to indie rock fame while playing gigs and Maxwell’s and roaming the streets of the Mile Square. 

Killing the Poormaster by Holly Metz

On February 25th, 1938when the welfare system was still new, poormaster Harry Barck {who decided who would receive public aid} was murdered. The prosecution blamed an unemployed man, Joe Scutellaro, who was told by Barck that his wife became a prostitute in the streets of Hoboken. This book tells the story of the case and the light shed on the welfare system as a result of the trial.

100 Hoboken Firsts  by Jim Hans

Published by the Hoboken Historical Museum, Jim Hans’ work sets out to prove that the Mile Square has more firsts than any other city in the country, detailing baseball games and the Greenstone Cliffs. It’s complete with pictures and timelines and describes all of the magic Hoboken has to offer. 

Legendary Locals of Hoboken by Alan Skontra

Detailing Hoboken’s rich history and growth from an industrial hub to a lively town, Skontra writes about legendary locals past and present, from Frank Sinatra to Kathy Zucker, detailing where they came from and what makes them great. 

The Kennedys of Hoboken by Janet Kennedy Murphy and Greg Hayes 

Two families — the Barrones from Italy and the Kennedys from Ireland — immigrate to the USA and land in Hoboken, New Jersey at the beginning of the 20th century. Agnes Barrone and Patrick Kennedy meet and get married, starting the rich history of the Kennedys of Hoboken that would span decades. 

Hoboken’s Christmas Surprise by E.L. Trent

E.L. Trent sets out to teach kids to think of other people instead of themselves in this tale of a homeless man and his dog who live on the outskirts of Hoboken and fix up trinkets for kids. 

A Place Like Hoboken by William Keller

Hobokenite author William Keller published this collection of short stories dripping with dark humor and characters that revolve around the lives and stories of his hometown, Hoboken. 

The Listerine Lunatic Hits Hoboken and Other Strange Tales by Patricia E. Flinn

This collection of short stories takes readers from the very real streets of Hoboken to an imaginary realm, where everything may or may not be what it seems. 

In Hoboken  by Christan Bauman

Bauman’s novel centers around Thatcher, a musician who chooses to step outside of New York City’s history and start a band in Hoboken. He meets many interesting characters and struggles to make meaningful music, and his story of song and friendship guides him through his journey.

Have you read any of these titles before? Let us know in the comments below!



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