Ten....Favourite "New York City" Books.

My book club read for this month is Lucia Berlin's " A Manual for Cleaning Women".
It's a collection of short stories & reading it earlier today, I was reminded of another book I'd once read, one set in NYC.

Browsing my bookshelves, I can see sitting on them various genres that I am clearly drawn to & NYC is definitely amongst them....in my world, NYC & books featuring it is indeed a genre ;)

It's no secret that I love New York City, it has a special place in my heart....and so I got to thinking about my favourite reads connected with this amazing, crazy, wonderful, vibrant city.
I wanted to choose just five but that very quickly became ten ;)

In no particular order....

1. "Rules of Civility", Amor Towles
This a gorgeously glamorous & witty read set in 1930s New York City, I don't know anyone who didn't love this novel & fall in love with its main character Katey Kontent, it was my book of the summer a couple of years ago.
"Impossibly glamorous . . . Towles conjures up vintage New York so marvellously that it made me feel nostalgic for a place I've never been to...." The Times

2. "The History of Love", Nicole Krauss
I read this a couple of months ago & loved it - it's one of those books that makes you want to start re-reading it the minute you finish it. It's beautifully written & gave me a new perspective on war & loss & love....I cried when it ended & that doesn't happen very often to me.

3. "Brooklyn" , Colm Toibin
This is one of those books where not only is it a great story but it is also so well written. The language is gorgeous, the main character Eilis is so vividly drawn & is someone to whom it is very easy to connect & believe in - it's also a wonderful description of a particular era.
The movie has just come out here & I hear it's great, can't wait to see it this week,
 Named after Joan Didion's essay Goodbye To All That, this book features essays & stories by 28 writers sharing their own personal experiences of NYC. If you love NYC, this is a great read & will make you wish you had your own living/loving/leaving the city story.

5. "New York Diaries", Teresa Carpenter
A brilliant & fascinating idea for a book, the diaries start on January 1 and continue day by day through the year - each day featuring a story & diary entry drawn from 1609-2009.
The author scoured private libraries, historical societies & private estates & the stories are from private individuals, politicians & famous people....a wide range of society which gives a unique & incredible slice of life & history of NYC, it's a fascinating read.

6. "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" , Betty Smith
This is a wonderful read about life in Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century, it's moving, beautifully written & is simply a really great story with a fabulous main character, Francie Nolan. 
The New York Public Library called it one of the books of the century.
My mother bought it for me, I loved it & now my daughter is reading it.      

7. "A Fairytale of New York", JP Donleavy
Definitely one of those books where you feel as though you are in the presence of someone who loves language & writes simply because they must do so.
The main character is so well drawn that you feel you know him or have met him before.

8. "Here Is New York", E.B.White
Described by the New York Times as one of the ten best books ever written about the city, this book is a love letter to the city & is funny, charming & beautiful. 
The author wrote this 7500 word essay at the request of his stepson who was a book editor & in it tells of his experiences in the city in 1948 - so much has changed in NYC since then & yet certain aspects, the excitement & the glamour have never left.

I have quite a few "New York" cookbooks but these are two of my favourites....
I'll never forget my first visit to Dean and Deluca & this is a great book with recipes from around the world.

"The New York Cookbook" by New York Times food writer Molly O'Neill is full of recipes from around the five boroughs & also has some stories about the history behind some of New York's favourite dishes.


Industrial Chic....Yes or No?

We currently find ourselves at various stages of completion in our home....
I spent a day looking for Victorian fireplaces last week in order to finally finish our living room, which is almost done apart from a couple of coats of paint.

The loft conversion will, fingers crossed, begin at the beginning of January.

A new kitchen of some sort, probably not the planned extension though, will hopefully begin in the spring.

I've been working this year with wallpaper manufacturer Graham & Brown, discusssing & exploring various design trends....this month I am focusing on the "industrial trend".
If you had told me about five years ago, that I would be considering incorporating elements of this trend into my home, I probably wouldn't have believed you since it can seem harsh & cold, not generally the look I go for in my home.

But industrial can mean all kinds of things....
it can be a stripped back simplicity, greys & dark blues, possibly a neutral palette. 
Metallic shades, wallpaper & lighting - all of which I love.

It can mean turning industrial objects such as copper piping, wire or bare lightbulbs into the most fantastic every day items, things of beauty, functional items which both fit in seamlessly & create a talking point. 

For the loft I am hoping to leave the walls at either end of the room as exposed brick which I can 
then paint white, it's an industrial look that I love.

Our hallway will feature various shades of grey which I've chosen from the Graham & Brown website, they have a fabulous choice...I love grey since it can create so many different moods, be it industrial, Scandi-chic or just simple elegance.

Our house is Victorian so some rooms need to be cosy & warm....
I found two beautiful fireplaces at auction, they arrived yesterday & I am already loving the difference that the cast iron makes, it adds a very different quality to the feel of the room.

I am thinking of interesting industrial style lighting in the kitchen, it will probably be the most modern space in the house, with a large glass wall, white units & plenty of stainless steel.

As with any design trend, it's about adapting it to your own environment....
is the industrial look your cup of tea?     

industrial style storage unit via here

basket pendant lights via here

clock & grey paint via Graham & Brown  

This post is written as part of an ongoing collaboration with Graham & Brown, all thoughts, opinions & words are my own.

Autumn Colours, Insomnia, Overthinking & An Awful Lot of Procrastination.

So what have I been doing with myself? 
Thinking and procrastinating. Procrastinating and thinking.

It's been slightly better this past week or so but during the last few months, I've had the worst insomnia....
the world is a bizarre place from 2-5am....
it's quiet in that you feel as though you're the only person awake, it's deafening in that your mind thinks all the thoughts, you can't shut it up.

I began to dread the nights, knowing that hours of tossing & turning lay ahead of me.

Sometimes I get up & read, I try not to reach for my iPad knowing that I'll never get back to sleep that way....sometimes I just try to think calm, happy soothing thoughts.

I have some things that I'm sad about....
although strangely, the stillness of the night is sometimes comforting in that respect....
it's the plans & all the other middle-of-the-night meanderings of my mind that can be troubling. 

I write emails/texts/blogposts in my head, compose conversations, make & remake plans....

And then daylight arrives and the world seems normal-ish again.

I have some plans for this next year....I know what I want to do but - for whatever reason - I am putting it off.
I want to do a course which will (hopefully) lead to a brand new career....
I got all the details, discussed it with friends in the same field of work, did a one day induction course - then put off booking the next stage of study & missed the entry date. Fast forward a few more months & I've now missed the next start date.....procrastination at its very finest!

Why do we do this, why am I doing this
Someone much wiser than me, would probably say that I'm nervous, unsure, doubting myself, scared.....I have no idea why.

Feel the fear & do it anyway.

I want to get in shape, get back in shape, I think about it a lot....I have done very little nothing about this issue.

Talk. Think. Plan. ACTION.

Just flippin' well do it!!

I eventually went to the doctor because I've been feeling rubbish....tests showed that I am totally healthy & normal. Hoorah....I think.

I just need to commit, book the course, make the phone call/s, start walking/classes/the gym/eating well....what am I waiting for?

Our house renovations rumble on....
we have now borrowed what we hope is enough money to enable us to finish everything.
We're at the stage where we just want everything to be done.....our make-do/temporary sleeping situation is no longer fun, funny or tenable, the kitchen is driving me nuts & the long to-do list seems to be getting longer not shorter. 
Deadlines need to be set, work finished & decisions made.
Let's do this.

Autumn in London has been SO completely & gloriously beautiful this year, I've never noticed the trees & leaves so colourful or so dazzling before.....I've been completely in awe of it.

Definitely my favourite season, right now the pavements are covered with leaves, my wardrobe is full of knitwear & I'd make soup every day of the week if I could get my family to eat it every day!

Onwards & upwards, happy November!

Book Love at HomeSense.

 HomeSense is a fairly recent discovery for me but one that I'm absolutely loving, finding new items for house & home every time I go there.

It's hard to pick a favourite but possibly my favourite section is the book aisle/s.

I once went to a Mexican supper club at a gorgeous home in a very trendy Islington square - the dinner took place in a basement kitchen where the owner/host had not one but four floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with cookery books - it was a dazzling selection, one I don't think I'll ever see equalled or surpassed.

Every HomeSense store that I've visited has at least one or two aisles of books, many of them are cookery books but as you can see from these photos, they have plenty of other coffee table/hardback books too.

I do have a weakness for cookery books, I can't resist them - and as everything at HomeSense is vastly reduced, I don't think any of the books pictured cost more than £6.99 - it does rather make buying one or four slightly more acceptable!

   This is post is written in collaboration with HomeSense, all words/content/thoughts/purchases my own.
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