heads in bedsHave you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of hotels? What the front desk attendant, concierge, bellman, or housekeeping person is thinking as they check you in, follow you around, or clean up your room? Having spent a fair number of my summer vacations in hotel rooms, I was curious as a child what these people actually did at work and what they thought of everyone they came in contact with on a daily basis. Lucky for me, I found just the book to ease my curiosity: Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.

Heads in Beds is written by Jacob Tomsky, a pseudonym the author adopted to keep his anonymity since he was, and is still, a member of the hotel industry at the time this book was released. Every hotel he worked for, as well as every person he worked with and each hotel guest, has a pseudonym, allowing Tomsky to go into great detail about everything that happens behind the scenes of hotels.

This book is a hilarious ride through Tomsky’s journey from a valet to manager to front desk attendant. Want to know how to get an upgrade? Tomsky tells you. How to get a late check out? Tomsky again. What about those pesky mini-bars and in-room movie fees? Tomsky knows all about those. He is full of tips and tricks about how to make the most out of whatever hotel stay you’re experiencing. Check out this book for glimpses into the inner workings of the hospitality business, what valets really do in your car, what goes on in empty rooms, and even why you should never turn down a bellman’s help.

This book is also available in the following formats:

In celebration of Earth Day this month, below are a sampling of books that focus on different ways that you can contribute to a green planet right in your own home!  These books, along with countless others in the library, can help you make your home and your life more environmentally friendly.

The simple “green manual,” Easy Green Living is based on the author’s TV series dealing with green home and garden care issues.  The author provides basic tips to make healthy living affordable and not time consuming.  By not overwhelming the reader with too many suggestions, Loux breaks down and gives examples of small daily differences that you can make to be more environmentally friendly and peppers each chapter with a “5 Step List” of products that can be easily found in your home.

Super Natural Home by Beth Greer is a fantastic resource for the environmentally conscious family with its easy to use format with helpful quizzes that identify a home’s “toxic hot zones.”  Chapters include tips on healthy tap water, indoor air quality and safer alternatives to household cleaners.

Green Goes with Everything Transform your home into a “safe sanctuary” free of harsh chemicals with this book by author Sloan Barnett.  The author advises on the best ways to make healthy and safe choices for your family.  Topics featured in the book include healthy food preparation, cleaning solutions and safe water tips.

Green Housekeeping is an extensive resource by Ellen Sandbeck and includes chapters such as: clearing clutter and organizing your belongings in an environmentally sound way and learning to live without some toxins that could be found in homes, as a few examples.  Green Housekeeping contains numerous ancedotes that are authoritative and useful to help families save money and time – something we all can use!

Published by Martha Stewart, Simple Home Solutions is divided into Kitchen, Home & Garden, etc. No one produces more elegantly laid out, beautifuly lit photos than Martha herself.  This is the old-school Martha, not the newer glitzier version. She was truly the master of the quietly serene way of life.

This is a  timely book, because, ultimately,  Martha is very frugal.  Some of my favorite tips are: to put rubber bands around a lid and a jar to open a stubborn jar lid, remove sweater pills with a fine toothed comb, put candles in paper towel tubes to store them, hang chalk to de-humidify a closet, or loosen a lock by rubbing a pencil on a key. One tip I actually did (and it works great) is to apply self-adhesive felt pads to the bottom of coffee makers or other counter utensils to make them slide across the counter top.

Some criticize Martha for her perceived elitism, but she also celebrates the ordinary. For example, the book explains how to root the very commonplace coleus and  how to smooth caulk with a plastic spoon. Even if you don’t act on any of the tips, it’s a soothing world to visit.

Subtitled the “Art and Science of Keeping House,” Home Comforts is an 800+ page book , with an incredible index.  Cheryl Mendelson has written a work of reference, but it’s very readable. It’s a combination of the ultimate in practicality and an appreciation of the home as a place of refuge and the comfort that can be derived from home keeping.

The author grew up on a farm where she learned the domestic arts.  She is a spiritual Martha Stewart concerned about how daily life affects the soul. Mendelson has an soothing tone; the tasks addressed in the huge tome seem entirely doable, not overwhelming.

The book is divided into sections such as Food, Cloth, Cleanliness, Daily Life (which includes caring for books,  and “some quiet occupations”), Sleep and Safe Shelter. Like How to Get Things Really Flat, there are sections on clothing care labels and how you should sometimes disregard them. This book not only tells you how to do things, but why.

It’s Clean and Tidy Week at the Davenport Library Info Cafe blog! Over the next five days Lynn will tell us about some great books that will inspire you to organize, straighten and scrub and otherwise make you into a finer human being. She starts us off with a bang with a book that not only is useful, it’s funny!

How to Get Things Really Flat

Andrew Martin’s eccentricity, English wit and  male point-of- view and his eye for the odd historical detail make laundry, ironing and “washing up” funny and (somewhat) inspiring in How to Get Things Really Flat. Martin casts himself as the bumbling amateur when he interviews experts on topics such as vacuuming and dishwashers.

The targeted audience are English “blokes” who should be doing housework, but women will find it informative and funny. His footnotes are tongue-in-cheek factoids that are  useful for American readers. For example, he lets us know that a pram is “short for peramulator, bigger and generally more heavy-duty than a stroller, since the baby lies flat. Any man pushing one is halfway to wearing a dress, or so he thinks.”

He is interested in the sociological aspect of housekeeping , with sections on “How Much Do Women Know About Housework?” (the primary subject being his long-suffering wife).

If you’ve overdosed on straight-forward, “how-to” books, try this unique addition to the  homemaking ouevre. In this work, previously unanalysed tasks are viewed through a slightly sqewed anthropolical lens combined with a Bill Bryson sensibility.