Located at the corner of Broadway and 12th Streets near the East Village in New York City is an independent bookstore called The Strand. Its slogan boasts “18 miles of books.” The third floor of The Strand houses an opulent Rare Book Room. Here, dyads (or in one case, a trio) of writers were invited to sit and share their thoughts about life, work, and the things they love.
As you read each chapter, you may be compelled to imagine yourself an unseen guest in the upstairs room, listening. If you have ever been to the Strand or are familiar with any of the authors included, you may find it especially easy to imagine.
Renata Adler. Edward Albee. Hilton Als. Paul Auster. Blake Bailey. Alison Bechdel. Tina Chang. Junot Diaz. Deborah Eisenberg. Rivka Galchen. A.M. Homes. Hari Kunzru. Rachel Kushner. Wendy Lesser. D.T. Max. Leigh Newman. Tea Obraht. Robert Pinsky. Katie Roiphe. George Saunders. David Shields. Charles Simic. Tracy K. Smith. Mark Strand. Charles Wright.
If you are not familiar with any of these names, by all means check out this book and acquaint yourself with some talented authors whose work you may enjoy exploring. There is something to be found by each of these authors in the RiverShare library catalog.
Are you a fan of the TV show Mad Men? Are you travelling to New York City this summer? Then you will want to head to 1271 Avenue of the Americas in Rockefeller Center, home of the Time-Life Building which houses the fictional Sterling Cooper & Partners office. Outside of the building is a new Mad Men fixture called, The Draper Bench and a street sign that says Mad Men Ave and Don Draper Way. The second half of season 7 premieres on Sunday, April 5th on AMC. If you have not watched Mad Men, the library owns seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and part one of the last season of the show.
Who knows the ins and outs of romance better than a Harlequin editor? Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom gives us some insight into one editor’s search for love.
At some point, we’ve all wished romance could be more like fiction. Patience Bloom certainly did, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like the heroines’ on the page: That shy guy she had a crush on wouldn’t just take her out – he’d sweep her off her feet with witty banter, quiet charm, and a secret life as a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Bloom kept reading books that fed her reveries.
Years later she moved to New York and found her dream job, editing romances for Harlequin. Every day, her romantic fantasies came true – on paper. Bloom became an expert when it came to fictional love stories, editing amazing books and learning everything she could about the romance business. But her dating life remained uninspired. She nearly gave up on love. Then one day a real-life chance at romance made her wonder if what she’d been writing and editing all those years might be true. A Facebook message from a high school friend, Sam, sparked a relationship with more promise than she’d had in years. But Sam lived thousands of miles away – they hadn’t seen each other in more than twenty years. Was it worth the risk?
Finally, Bloom learned: Love and romance can conquer all. (description from publisher)
Unterzakhn(yiddish for ‘underthings’) by Leela Corman tells the story of Jewish twin sisters at the start of the 20th century in New York City. Esther and Fanya’s stories are told in graphic novel form, spanning more than a decade from childhood through adulthood, with black and white illustrations reminiscent of Russian folk art. The sisters make decidedly different decisions in their lives, but they both chose career paths outside of community and family expectations of them and drift apart from one another (forcefully in one scene).
Fanya starts this story when she finds a woman bleeding in the street and is instructed to go find the “lady doctor”. This encounter brings her to Bronia, a feminist obstetrician who performs illegal abortions, and convinces Fanya’s mother to let Bronia teach Fanya to read. Fanya then begins to apprentice for Bronia, and adapts to the strident expectations of her teacher. While her sister is learning to work as an obstetrician, Esther begins working at the local burlesque theater and brothel — running errands and cleaning up. As she grows toward adulthood, her work changes and she loses her family in the process.
This is a quick, but in no way a light read. The writing and the illustrations show a lot of darkness and pain. The sisters always seem better when they’re together, showing the quick wit and love that seems to be reserved for each other. I had a difficult time putting this book down, because Corman made it easy to care about Fanya and Esther. This is a good read for fans of David Small’s Stitchesor anything by Charles Burns.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio:This book came into my life like a freight train of emotion and steamrolled over everything else I was doing. Auggie is starting fifth grade after being homeschooled for the previous five years: he has extreme facial deformities that make going out in public an almost unbearable trial. Everywhere he goes, people stare at him and whisper to each other. Auggie almost always notices, and wants so very much just to be normal. Inside, he’s as normal as any bright ten year old can be – he adores Star Wars, he likes to play Halo, he’s read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and Halloween is his favorite holiday (since everyone is wearing a mask, he can too, and goes around just like a truly normal kid).
But Wonder isn’t just about Auggie, though he’s the main character. This is one of the few children’s novels I’ve seen that uses more than one narrator, and it’s surprisingly effective. Palacio doesn’t get carried away trying to make each narrator sound distinct (which would complicate matters for young readers): she uses a similar voice for each of the six viewpoint characters, letting their experiences and their emotions differentiate between them rather than her writing style.
This is a happy-sad book. Some moments will stab at you and make you weep, but overall you’ll feel rewarded and uplifted and most of all lucky: lucky to have met August, a character of such everyday bravery that you won’t soon forget him, lucky not to have the cascade of medical afflictions that have made him so remarkable, and lucky to have this beautiful book as a reminder to always be a little more kind than is necessary.
The Intercept is Dick Wolf’s first book. Unsurprisingly, it feels like the start of a long-running series. The master of the successful drama, Wolf is the creator of Law & Orderand its many spin-offs.
Jeremy Fisk is an NYPD detective who works in the Intelligence Division, where police officers comb through bits of information from surveillance cameras, email and other computer data in order to uncover terrorist plots.
When a group of passengers and crew foil an airplane hijacking, the new heroes are sucked into a media and pr machine. Some bask in the limelight and some are desparate to avoid it.
After chasing a few false leads, Fisk begins to suspect that the original attempt is a distraction and another bigger plot is the ultimate goal.
Fast-paced and full of insider information about terrorism and forensics, Wolf writes with an assurance and cool confidence well suited to the thriller genre.
As someone who loves to read mysteries and is always on the hunt for another series to start, I stumbled upon the Bailey Weggins mystery series by Kate White and just finished If Looks Could Kill, the first book in the series. Bailey Weggins is a freelance writer of crime and human interest stories for the monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine Gloss. Early one Sunday morning Bailey is roused out of bed by her boss and the editor of Gloss, Cat Jones, who can’t get her live-in nanny, Heidi, to answer the door of her basement suite. Bailey springs to action to help her boss figure out where Heidi has gone – and it isn’t far – when Bailey discovers the nanny dead in her suite. Cat pleads with Bailey to use her sleuthing skills to try and figure out why Heidi was murdered. Bailey, who puts her investigative skills right to the test, dives into the case.
The mystery heats up when it is determined that Heidi died from eating poisonous chocolate truffles that were an intended hostess gift for Cat. Who was the intended victim – Cat or Heidi? Bailey uncovers evidence that points to someone trying to poison the editors of high profile magazines and she puts her life at risk with her unofficial investigation.
If Looks Could Kill is a light (as far as mysteries are concerned) and easy read that effortlessly blends fashion, vibrant New York City life and murder.
Long Gone, the new thriller from Alafair Burke, is a suspenseful roller coaster of a novel where everything appears one way but, in reality, is completely the opposite. Recently fired from her job at a prestigious art museum in New York, Alice Humphrey is thrilled to be approached by a complete stranger, Drew Campbell, during an art gallery opening. Drew offers her a fabulous proposition – a dream job of managing an up-and-coming art gallery funded by an anonymous, wealthy patron. After a few initial doubts, Alice accepts the offer and begins to make her mark on the art world.
After the initial flurry of a successful opening, Alice begins to enjoy her new career until one morning a few weeks later. She opens the gallery and discovers the space is completely empty and the body of Drew Campbell is on the gallery floor. Quickly, the evidence begins to mount against her and the police believe that she killed the man who she thought to be Drew Campbell, but has been identified as someone else. Knowing that she has been set up, Alice desperately sets out on a quest to clear her name and find out the truth. While searching for answers along the way, Alice discovers even more hidden secrets involving her own family’s past.
Long Gone is a page-turning mystery with an intense and intricately woven storyline. Highly recommended!
Christina Haag, childhood friend and later longtime girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, Jr. has written a moving and beautiful memoir of her years with him, Come to the Edge, which chronicles their lives from the 1970s to the early 1990s.
After meeting him as a young girl as one member of a large circle of friends in New York City, Christina Haag becomes a close friend and confidant of John throughout their high school and later college days. After high school they both attend Brown University and learn that they share a love of theater both at Brown and later in New York City, where they return after graduation. After starring together in an off-Broadway play, he confesses his love for her and they embark on a five year romance. Her memoir tells of the human and personal side of their relationship that was far removed from the prying eye of the public.
She tells of their group dinners while roommates in college, trips to Cumberland Island in Georgia, their near death experience kayaking in Jamaica and of their normal, everyday life in New York. Her recollection of a man who lived his life on the edge is poignant and reflective. This is both a completely satisfying and heartbreaking memoir that tells the tale of love, loss and what could have been.
Many of you know Steve Martin as a comedian and as an actor, but he is also a best-selling author of both children’s books and adult fiction. His newest offering is a fictionalized glimpse into the New York art world, An Object of Beauty.
An avid art collector himself, Martin traces the rise and eventual fall of a young woman, Lacey Yeager, whose ambition and drive to be at the pinnicle of the art world knows no boundaries. Her tale begins when, right out of college, she accepts a position with Sotheby’s auction house. Her position is at the bottom of art world ladder (her office is literally in the basement) but she quickly learns what, and more importantly, who you need to know – but it comes at a high price.
Lacey’s eventual fall from grace is explained in full detail at the end of the book (after the author only gives the reader bits and pieces throughout) and her final eviction from the art world is swift and severe – which make for a compelling and fascinating look into the world of million dollar artwork.
The author includes color photographs of many of the works of art mentioned in the book – it is a nice touch!
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