Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some July Library Loot

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I went to the library after dinner tonight to return a few books - and pick up a few more on hold.  Along with more books on Impressionist art (you would think I'd read all of them by now), I also managed to snag a few titles that have been on hold for over a month.

Now you must understand my ritual.  Once I bring home the books, I take each one out of the bag and sort them.  I typically have about 4 or 5 piles:
  • Fiction
  • Non-Fiction -- writing
  • Non-Fiction -- photography
  • Non-Fiction - food/cookbooks
  • "Novel" books - those that I think will be helpful in my personal writing project
Once the books have been properly sorted, I then take a few minutes and review each one individually (yes, I am sure I have OCD tendencies -- but it works for me) .  I read the back cover - the book flaps - the table of contents - and sometimes I will read the first page or two.  The two books that I wish to showcase in this post immediately grabbed my attention and I hope to be able to read them quickly - while at the same time remaining focused on the writing endeavor.

The first one is a "foodie" book and was recommended by one of you marvelous bloggers, but for the life of me I cannot remember who it was (I tried to do a google search, but to no avail).  Anyway, the title of the book is, Service Included:  Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch.  In reviewing the Table of Contents was intrigued by the title of the second chapter:  Food Porn, so naturally, I had to take a peak.  Here is a portion of the initial paragraph:
I had a crush on the French Laundry Cookbook for ages, but considered it way out of my league, both in price and in required skill.  I stalked it in bookstores, ogling the glossy photographs in dark aisles and secluded corners where the only witness to my infatuation were other desperate faux-cook foodies who probably couldn't roast a chicken to save their lives and had to resort to drooling over centerfolds of gleaming striped ass, glistening gelee, and statuesque towers of perfectly peeled tomatoes.  (page 13)
Just two sentences but I am already captivated by her wit and writing style.  If you have read and/or reviewed this book, please let me know in the comment section and I would be delighted to edit this post to include a link to your website!  

The second book that captured my attention was The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier.  I remember reading Nicole's and Kristen's reviews of this book and immediately requesting a copy from the library.  Since it took a little more than month for my turn to finally arrive, I had to refresh my memory as to why I had requested it in the first place.

Well, first of all I was drawn to this book because the primary character, Joy Harkness, is a professor at Colombia University.  I am always drawn to stories that take place in an academic setting, and the fact that at least a portion of the book was going to take place in New York  City was an extra bonus.  I was not three pages into the book when the author managed to transport me back in time to Spring, 1985, when I was living in Greenwich Village and working in the market research department for a major financial institution:
I opened an account at Chemical Bank within days of landing in Manhattan.....Four months after my move, Chemical merged with Manufacturers Hanover and my bank became known as Manny Hanny.  In New York, I was always just a tad late for the party. (page 3)
I worked for Manny Hanny!  I have not heard that term in years - and I can't tell you what nostalgic memories came flooding back to me:  I am walking down 5th Avenue towards the village in my navy blue suit with white oxford blouse and silk bow tie (yes, it was the 80s) with my Reebok sneakers on my feet and my classic pumps in my briefcase.  Oh my --- those were the days!!

The other amazing detail about this book is that Joy and I are somewhat mirror images of one another.  She started in the Midwest (St. Louis) and moved to New York City, and I started on the East Coast and moved to the Midwest (Kansas City).  We are both middle-aged and while I will never be a professor at an Ivy League University (or any other university for that matter), I do try to instill a love for English literature to my high school students.

Joy has had enough of the Big Apple and desires a change of scenery - and a change of life.  When she is offered the opportunity to go to Amherst and assist one of the icons of education in a new academic venture, she immediately jumps at the chance.  She puts her apartment on the market and is somewhat surprised when it sells four days later for $50,000 above listing price.  I was once again transported back in time when the narration focused on the potential buyers' reactions to the apartment, and Joy's interior monologue which refutes every point they make:
A parade of seven couples and a single man marched through my rooms in the first two days of the listing, attended by their real estate agents and mine.  Everyone seemed to think that the apartment was such a gem, with its high coffered ceilings, parquet floors and the bowed window that looked out onto broad Eighty-sixth Street.  Wait until you hear the bus, I thought, but I didn't say a word.  I smiled when they talked about the light.  I needed when they mentioned the perfect proportions of the rooms.  I knew it was a crowded, dark, mean little apartment with a fireplace that didn't work and too few closets.  Two real estate agents mentioned that the building was promising to install an elevator at the back service stairs.  I didn't tell them that our co-op board had been arguing about that imaginary elevator for all of the sixteen years I'd lived in the building.  (page 7)
Oh my goodness --- have any of you ever lived in Manhattan (or, I would imagine, in major metropolitan city)?  This conversation is SO typical!

I sure hope that these first seven pages are an indication of the rest of the novel.  If so, then I am sure to LOVE it!


  1. I have enjoyed your post about going to the library. It has reminded me I do not use our library enough. I am a book buyer and swapper of books with friends. I have recently moved into the city from the country. I am resolved to remedy this after reading your blog post and get myself down to the library. Now where is my card....

  2. Those both look great to me! Food Porn would definitely catch my attention too.

  3. Thanks for reminding me about THE SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES. I saw lots of reviews of it a couple of months ago and meant to put it on my list, but neglected to. It sounded very appealing to me as well. One more on the list.

  4. My husband has a "thing" for restaurant books but he didn't love Service Included (he did read it though but I have not). Be sure to read my upcoming Question of the Week post ... I recommend restaurant books!

  5. It is hard to pop into the library and not come home with an armload. The last time we did that, to grab ONE audio book for the kids and I, I literally had to keep my head down and walk directly to the appropriate area. I have to get my challenges in order!

    Both of these books would have grabbed my attention. Anything foodish, I love.

  6. I remember Manny Hanny! The Season of Second Chances is sitting near the top of my tbr pile, but it sounds like it needs to be moved up even higher.

  7. I'm so glad you're enjoying Season so far, especially since I was half the inspiration for you getting it. :-) I hope you continue to like ti as much!

  8. Service Included sounds interesting. I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

  9. Great post, Molly! I'm glad to hear you are enjoying Season of Second Chances since it is sitting on my shelf beckoning me. I never heard of Manny Hanny. Everytime I come here, I learn something new. Thanks!

  10. It sounds like the Season of Second Chances is a perfect book for you! I used to check out stacks of books back before I got review copies. Your post has made me nostalgic for it. Now I just check out one or two books a month.

  11. Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter (which I haven't heard of until I read this post) reminds me of another book called Waiter's Rant. Love books with soapy dishes about eavesdropping in restaurants. :)

  12. A couple of good ones too!


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