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All booksHistorical fictionThe Rules of Civility
The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Historical fiction

The Rules of Civility

by Amor Towles

Why I love it

Book of the Month

As fans of The Gentleman of Moscow know, Amor Towles has a gift for capturing a certain time and place in history and putting his readers immediately there. His debut novel is Towles at his most playful: The Rules of Civility is set in the jazz clubs and swanky bars of late 1930s New York City, when a plucky young woman who’s barely scraping by gets swept up into the world of Manhattan’s elite. The book is a gem, with dialogue so cinematic you could imagine Katharine Hepburn firing off Towles’s lines.

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On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society'”where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.

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Member thoughts

All (2226)
All (2226)
Love (1403)
Like (706)
Dislike (117)
2271 ratings
  • 62% Love
  • 31% Like
  • 5% Dislike
  • Pontoon Beach, IL

    IMO, a great story should do 3 things: educate, invoke an emotional response (or many), and leave the reader with a sense of longing upon conclusion. I will be rereading this for years to come. 5/5 ⭐️


    I'm sad it took me this long to read Amor Towles. Rules of Civility is a glittering gem—a slow burn with engrossing characters you'll become emotionally attached to. One of my all-time favorite books.

  • Chicago, IL

    Clever period piece that discusses the choices we make based on obligations, friendship, love, and who we think we are. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow so much—this book was disappointing in comparison

  • Red Bank, TN

    This book transported me through time and allowed me to live the life of a flapper, a writer, and an elitist! After reading this book, I plan on ordering her other books. He Writing was from the ages.

  • Lexington Park, MD

    This is my second of Amor’s! His books are more about the details than show-stopping surprises. I loved the setting and Katey’s character! I did find myself wanting a little more throughout though

  • Honolulu, HI

    A powerful meditation on the reverberating aftereffects of every choice we make in our lives. The prose is beautiful and I was very emotionally invested in Katey’s story. Makes you think about life.

  • Oak Lawn, IL

    Manhattan, 1938. Tough talking dames, dapper young men, Haves and Have Nots. A wild ride of a story that asks thought provoking questions and never ceases to entertain. I was transported and loved it!

  • Steilacoom, WA

    It is decided that Amor Towles is a favorite writer of mine. I absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow, so I am very excited that this felt just as authentic. Any fan of historical fiction should read.

  • Erlanger, KY

    I loved Katey! And I want to know what happened to Tinker! Admittedly, I have a bias towards settings in the 20s and 30s, but this book was wonderful, as was Towles' other book, A Gentleman In Moscow.

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Not only was this book just a dreamy journey that inspired me to live - Amor Towles just made me fall even more in love with him and his writing. This is my 2nd book (author’s first) & I want more.

  • Kennewick, WA

    I adored Kate and all of the characters as their lives wove together. I will definitely be reading Towles next book A Gentleman in Moscow and rereading the classics mentioned throughout this treasure.

  • Birmingham, AL

    A story of decisions made by Katey in her youth that served her well. Through out a formative year she remained true to herself and accepted loses and opportunities as they came. Love Amor Towles.

  • Tulsa, OK

    I’ve had this book on the shelf for a very long time and was hesitant to pick it up because his other book, A Gentleman in Moscow, was not my favorite. This book was so good. Glad I took a chance!!

  • Miami, FL

    Witty, and melancholic this novel feels like being 29 and making choices that are gonna stop all the fun you just spent the last decade of your life having, but thats ok cuz you wanna go home anyways

  • Malverne , NY

    This definately kept my interest. Although i did wonder and the accuracy of a male author weiting from a female perspective, i ended up being completely enthralled and felt foolish for the thought.

  • Wellfleet, MA

    I love historical sagas that take a zig zag to where the story goes. Its interesting and keeps you glued to your seat. I read this during one of the storms here on the east coast and it entertained.

  • Foster City, CA

    Can’t describe how much I loved this. Characters kept surprising me, progression was natural. I loved the setting and was totally immersed. Despite being a slow builder, I couldn’t put it down!

  • Minneapolis, MN

    This may just be my favorite book of all time. It was smart, insightful, and so beautifully written that it could have made me cry. I found immeasurable life lessons in this book. It's my "Walden."

  • Topsham, ME

    I read A Gentleman in Moscow first and loved that so much, I had to go back to read his debut. Amor Towles' writing is so authentic and vivid, I just get lost in his storytelling. Loved this book.

  • Midland, TX

    This was like a time machine to a time so different from our own. It was cute, funny, and some times you want to cry and reach out to the characters to help them. Wonderful...9/10 would read again!

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