Monday, May 17, 2010

NYC Reading

My huge work event and trip to Scranton, PA, and NYC is now over! We hosted the big work-related event in Scranton (our office there won a contest, and we connected the event to The Office and had one of the actors from the show be the emcee), and then I attended a conference in NYC. Thus I'm a bit behind in my reading and blogging. And less important things like laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. I did do some reading while I was away and decided to do a summary post. I also need to write posts of a few books I finished before I left, but I decided to start with the summary to hopefully help get back in thr groove, and to feel like I'm less behind.

That's my husband Ryan and me in Central Park. He flew up and joined me over the weekend. Since we were traveling to NYC, I did some NYC-related reading. I started off by re-reading Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella. I figured it would have some good shopping suggestions. I should have remembered that it is written by a Londoner, not a New Yorker though, and so the NYC descriptions were actually very negligible. Oh well. It did get me prepared for walking down Fifth Avenue and it was a nice read while I was still in Scranton and was exhausted from work. I do find the whole Shopaholic series fun, light, and enjoyable though.

Next it was on to re-reading The Cricket in Times Square, hence the photo of Times Square. The Crowne Plaza you can see on the front right of the photo is where we stayed. Pretty nice! I enjoyed this re-read, although I have to say I don't love this book for itself. The reason I read it the first time was because it was Charlotte Johanssen's favorite book, and she was the favorite charge of my favorite baby-sitter in the Baby-Sitters Club books. And Stacey McGill was my main reason for wanting to see NYC at all. That should probably be really sad for a 28-year-old, but I'm actually a bit proud of my still all-encompassing love for the BSC. I made a point to go to Bloomie's and eat at the Hard Rock for Stacey.

Next comes a triumvirate of NYC travel guides: Lonely Planet - NYC Guide, National Geographic New York, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to NYC. If you know surprising very little about NYC, The Complete Idiot's Guide to NYC is a great place to start. It always confused me how there's NYC, but then the buroughs, and this explained simple things like that for me. It also had a good overview on how the streets run and highlights of NYC. Then it talked more about planning a trip rather than what to do when you get there. This is more of a read before you go, check it out from the library kind of book.

Next up was Lonely Planet - NYC Guide, which I think was the best of the three overall. It expects you to already of a bit of a basic understanding of NYC, which I know did from the other book. It had great maps, and I was able to basically memorize the map of Manhattan and didn't need to carry this around with me and look like a tourist, which was nice (although I'm sure I looked like a tourist in other ways, my lack of skinny jeans, which seemed to be part of some dress code, being the first clue). It has a TON of stuff packed into this book, with lots of info about the boroughs outside of Manhattan, which tended to get overlooked a bit in the other two. But, the informatio on each item was very short, just 1-2 sentences, so you had to look elsewhere if you saw something you weren't sure about.

Finally, the National Geographic New York book had a lot more details. It would have 1-2 pages about an entry, and had a lot of glossy photos. But, it doesn't cover as much as the Lonely Planet since it goes into more depth on each item. But, the sight-seeing portion of my trip was rather short, so this hit most of what I wanted to see anyway, and worked well for me. It would probably be a good book if you're thinking about a trip to NYC but aren't sure yet, and the Lonely Planet book is a better guide for planning out iternaries.

And finally, while I was in NYC I couldn't resist a trip to The Strand, home of 18 miles of books, a pretty impressive feat in Manhattan. I picked up The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar. The cover looked fun and the story, about a group of Scottish fairies who come to NYC, sounded intriguing. However, I should have paid more attention to the fact that the introduction was by Neil Gaiman, whose The Graveyard Book just disappointed me. And this book followed suit. It was a bit vulgar in unnecessary ways, like a brother and sister fairy having sex because that doesn't matter to fairies, and a phone sex infomercial constantly playing in the background. Those elements were distracting. I also felt like the writing was very strong, and I got a bit bored with the story. I'm glad a picked up two NYC-themed books there so I can keep the other one as a souvenier and sell this one to Half Price Books. However, since I clearly missed the appeal of Gaiman (although I could at least recognize his lyrical writing style), if you're a fan of his you might enjoy this book.

What about you? Do you have any travel guides you prefer? What book related stories do you like about NYC?


  1. What a wonderful trip and report on trip. NYC is a wonderful place to visit--I still haven't been to The Strand yet, but it sounds great.

    I'm a Fodor's fan--I've learned to use them, and the mini-Fodor's on NYC is great. It fits in my purse and I can whip it out and refer to it anytime.

    We stayed at the Crown Plaza when the whole family went in April for Spring Break, and it worked out perfectly.

    I just ordered Breakfast at Tiffany's so that I'll have read that before my next June.

    I picked up "New York Then and Now" at the Met Museum of Art store in April and have loved pouring over the photos.

    I also read Edw Rutherford's New York just before our family trip, and really enjoyed it as well.

    Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is on this year's reading list.

  2. Jane - The Strand is wonderful. Extremely crowded though, both with books and people when we went. There are tables in all of the walkways, so you have to walk sideways through many of the walk areas and squeeze past people, but there are books and books and books! Their organization system confused me about as well - in the literature section if you looked up say, Edith Wharton, you'd see both her books and books about her and her books there. And then there were other classics section for specific editions. I think it would be a bit difficult to find something specific, but it made for quite fun browsing and I picked up a few books I might not have discovered otherwise. Have fun when you go to NYC!