Good Reading : August 2011
www.goodreadingmagazine.com good reading august 2011 20 book city an atheist, but I believe I’m going to hell,’ ‘I pee in the shower’ and the cunning ‘I left a bobby pin on your nightstand on purpose. So she would see it.’ Something else that often feels like a secret is where the best book readings take place. But this need not be the case with handy resources like Time Out magazine (often free in hotels) and websites such as Celebrity Book Signings and Events, which list upcoming readings by date. If you track down a popular author you may encounter local boy Bill Ryan, who is famous for getting first editions signed with an insult. Some of his latest include: ‘For Bill – keep your day job! Glenn Kurtz’ and ‘To Bill, my big wishforyouistoendupinoneofthe hellholes of my story! David Means’. But if you prefer more highbrow quips then you’re in luck because a block from Grand Central Station is Library Way. Here grey pavements get a little sparkle from 96 bronze plaques bear ing quotations from famous authors. Library Way is Manhattan’s literary answer to Hollywood Boulevard’s celebrity handprints. A stand-out is the plaque featuring the words of French philosopher René Descartes, who muses, ‘The reading of good books is like a conversation with the best men of past centuries.’ After a stroll down this inspiring streetscape make your way to a bookstore described by many in the theatre industry as ‘a scene’. The Drama Book Shop’s fluorescent lighting, mismatched bookshelves and busted leather armchairs offer the opposite in aesthetics to the NYPL. Senior clerk Stuart Brynien stands under a hand-drawn ‘Help Desk’ sign and describes his role as a detective and hunter. ‘People come in looking for ideas because they need to prepare something for audition. They’ll camp out reading stuff, and then they’ll come back the next day and read some more.’ But actors aren’t the only people seeking the expert services of the Drama Book Shop. ‘A lot of people come in here because they’re simply going to see a show. Or they come in after the show and want to read the script to find out what they may have missed; sometimes it’s hard to understand all the dialogue, especially if it was done with an accent.’ This year the shop has been officially recognised by the industry. Brynien explains, ‘It’s very exciting. We’re the recipients of a Tony Award. The Tony is given away every year to the best on Broadway and we’ve won an honorary award for nearly 100 years of service to theatre.’ Other interesting bookstores in walking distance include Fil Caravan, for books on Middle Easter n culture; The Complete Traveller Antiquarian Bookstore, which boasts the world’s largest collection of Baedeker travel guides, first printed in the mid-19th century; and Rizzoli, a truly classical book store specialising in the arts and described by one online customer as ‘a librar ian’s dream’. If dreaming of books takes your fancy, then there’s no place to stay other than the luxury Library Hotel, where each guestroom is themed to a category of the Dewey Decimal System. This boutique hotel’s smooth red brick facade offers a warm welcome amid the silver skyscrapers of midtown’s financial district. Winner of the Fodor’s 2010 Most Romantic Hotel award, its rooms have built-in mahogany desks, warm-toned marble bathrooms and upholstered bedheads groaning with pillows. Each of the 60 rooms has its own complement of books and decorations that accompany its theme. Of special note in Fodor’s award were the rooms themed as Fairy Tales (Room 800.005), Erotica (Room 800.001) and Romance Languages (Room 400.002). Down in the Reading Room, equipped with baby grand piano and the rest of the hotel’s 6000-book collection, you can take advantage of the complimentary continental breakfast with an American twist. Grab a toasted bagel with cream cheese to go, or sit back and relax with a bowl of soul-warming steel-cut oats and a cranberry muffin. Through the bay windows the New York Public Library sits majestically at the end of the street like a giant marble bookend. If you listen carefully you might hear whispering from the library’s great halls, like the calls of mermaids to lonely sailors across the seas. But be careful – these beckoning calls may stir cravings in you to visit its sumptuous rooms where you’ll while away endless hours, beholding the wisdom of humanity. the library’s lions, Patience and Fortitude, celebrate their 100th birthday this year. the new York Public Library is built from solid marble in the dramatic Beaux-arts style.