New York City Reads
About a year ago I posted my first reading list, a lengthy one, including all my favourite books. I am a total bookworm, a quality I inherited from my paternal grandmother who read several books a week throughout her life. I truly believe life is better when you have a good book on the go, it’s like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As I myself am always looking for my next read, I’d like to make book recommendations a mainstay on my blog. I have been pouring through books lately, so I have several recommendations, hopefully I can keep up my pace and be able to have a few recommendations every couple of month on here! Please feel free to leave your favourite books and recent good reads in the comments, I love for this to become a space to create recommendations for like-minded people with similar interests!
I read this book last summer when it was published. I think I actually picked it up the day it was released and was so excited to read it. Then, I was travelling frequently between Toronto and New York City and was into reading about NYC (this hasn’t changed, you’ll see a theme throughout this list). I love the way books can transport us, I love leaving the real world and visiting different places and times and lives. The address for which the book is named is The Dakota building, a gorgeous gothic building on The Upper West Side, facing the park. The outside shots of Rosemary’s Baby were taken of The Dakota, outside of which John Lennon was killed (it served as his address at the time) and is a favourite address of New York’s affluent artistic crowd. I am obsessed with The Dakota, I think maybe because I’m obsessed with Rosemary’s Baby, but really, it is a stunning piece of architecture. I digress, the theme of the book surrounds two women living in The Dakota one hundred years apart and a mystery that ties them together. It’s a very captivating and easy read, perfect for summer.
How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir
I am obsessed with this book. I picked it up because I heard it was about a young girl working at a Condé Nast magazine in New York, which is basically my dream life and wanted to read a memoir about it. Cat Marnell exceeded far beyond my expectations though. I adore her writing, it is very casual, like she’s having a conversation with you and you’re her best friend, but it never comes off pretentious. I was worried I might have trouble getting through a book about a young girl on drugs (I don’t tend to do well with drug imagery, or anything too gritty, involving people losing consciousness, or bodily fluids-though, The Handmaid’s Tale is certainly testing the limits of my sensitivity as of late). The book is not nearly as sad, or disturbing as I presumed it would be. Cat doesn’t ask for your pity, but simply recounts how she got to where she was, both in her career and her drug abuse. I tore through this book in less than four days and became so intrigued with Cat herself, I wish she would write more books, her signature prose is captivating and readable.
The Luckiest Girl Alive
Much like “How to Murder Your Life”, “The Luckiest Girl Alive” is another book about a young girl working as a magazine editor in NYC, though this book is fictitious and Ani is without a drug problem, but instead with a secret she’s been keeping about her past. It jumps each chapter between the present and past of the story’s protagonist. We begin with her present life in New York, working for a fashion magazine and about to get married to an Upper East Side WASP. This story toggles back and forth between this present timeline and Ani’s past timeline, which is set about ten years prior when she is in high school. Ani’s secret, which may destroy this perfect life she has cultivated for herself is slowly revealed throughout the book. I prefer the present storyline, though it wouldn’t be much of a book without the past storyline. This is a great easy summer read, with a bit of mystery involved, which I love because it always keeps me motivated to finish the book.
Primates of Park Avenue
Primates of Park Avenue has been in my peripheral for a couple of years now, but I avoided reading it, because I’m a bit of an academic snob and thought myself above reading fluffy novels like this. I had considered reading it about a year ago when I wanted a book about NYC to read and recently Michaela, one of my favourite bloggers recommended it and I have loved all her book recommendations so far, so decided it was finally time to read this one. The book is a tongue-in-cheek account of an outsider migrating to New York’s Upper East Side and the shock that goes along with that. Martin discusses what it means to be a woman and a mother, east of the park, in terms of finding a daycare, keeping up with fashion, beauty standards and social responsibilities of some of the most wealthy and privileged women in the world. I, like many others, am fascinated by the luxurious lives of the Upper East Side, I loved Gossip Girl and read the novels years before they were turned into a popular tv show. I have always loved walking around the UES, admiring the amazing residences and only imagining what the decor inside looks like. Primates of Park Avenue, is a bit like Gossip Girl for grown ups, recounting the lives and challenges of the UES woman. It’s not exactly shocking and sometimes I do think Martin takes some exaggerated liberties, but it is an interesting and enjoyable read for those who will always be on the outside looking in. As the infinite wisdom of Chuck Bass will tell you, the world you’re looking for only exists from the outside.
I decided to read The Dollhouse, after how much I enjoyed Fiona Davis’s aforementioned, “The Address”. The Dollhouse, much like “The Address” is centred around a historic building in New York, The Barbizon Hotel and is set in two timelines, the present and the 1950s. The Barbizon was a female-only residence, housing models, secretaries and magazine editors (Sylvia Plath lived there while interning at Mademoiselle and it inspired the building in which Esther lived in Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar). The Dollhouse follows two women living in the famous building and again is a mystery novel.