Sunday, June 17- Lolita

Good morning!

Here is my book: The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

Here is my breakfast: Balthazar croissant

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My Book Expo loot

Getting back into the groove of reading and writing here! After a frenetic few weeks, it feels like summer is finally upon us here in New York City.

Two weeks ago was Book Expo, publishing’s big trade show, where publishers promote their late summer and fall titles–fall being the biggest season in publishing. For people like me, it’s a chance to pick up galleys of buzzed about upcoming titles. One of those is The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman, out in September, which I’ve been enjoying. A work of true crime, it toggles between the real-life kidnapping of Sally Horner in in 1948 and Nabokov’s writing of Lolita, a novel arguably influenced by Sally’s much publicized story and rescue. It has me reaching for the copy of Lolita on my shelf. Lolita has always been a book whose language is so masterful, so captivating, that it shrouds and distorts the subject matter. The Real Lolita has me thinking about Lolita in a way that I haven’t for years.

Yesterday, I headed to Central Park, crowded with tourists and residents strolling on the paths. I took some of the little known walkways down by the lake and into the Rambles, where everything was much calmer–although in the process I managed to crash two weddings and an engagement.

Last night, I headed to the opera house to see ABT’s Romeo and Juliet starring Isabella Boylston and David Hallberg, which was stunning. I had never seen Isabella perform in person, and was surprised by the joy that emanated her dancing (and those perfect bourées!). David and Isabella made a lovely pairing. I now can’t seem to stop listening to the Prokofiev score.

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Happy reading!

Sunday, May 6- Less

Good morning!

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Here is my book: Less by Andrew Sean Greer (the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

Here is my breakfast: coffee and a baguette from Eric Kayser

I’ve been on a great book binge recently, and Less is no exception. I’m embarrassed to say I’d hardly registered the novel before its surprise Pulitzer win last month. It had great quotes, great reviews, but it hadn’t appeared on a lot of awards lists (probably in part because of an annoying bias against comic novels). In any case, it has been an absolute delight so far. I’ve already noted several lines for my quote book, including two below:

“There were the politicians sizing him up as for a suit fitting. There were the actors trying him on the red carpet. There were the photographers getting him in the right lighting. They might have done, many of them. So many will do. But once you’ve actually been in love, you can’t live with “will do”; it’s worse than living with yourself.”

and

“New York is a city of eight million people, approximately seven million of whom will be furious when they hear you were in town and didn’t meet them for an expensive dinner, five million furious you didn’t visit their new baby, three million furious you didn’t see their new show, one million furious you didn’t call for sex, but only five actually available to meet you.”

I’ve had a pretty stellar month in reading. Among the highlights: Rules of Civility (the book I’ve been joking I was born to read), The Rules Do Not Apply (a pattern emerges!), I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and now Less. I was disappointed by Behind Her Eyes, mostly because I found it such a slog to get to the twist ending, a twist that made me want to hurl the book across the room.

Most of my weeknights and weekend have been taken up with editing and submissions, which I need to get back to, no matter how much I’d like to continue with my recreational book today.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 8- Rules of Civility

Good morning!

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Here is my book: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Here is my breakfast: croissant and coffee

In our last installment, I was reading Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, which I highly recommend. I don’t want to spoil the novel, but as the end neared, I realized just how much I had become invested not only in these characters lives, but in their happiness, which hasn’t happened to me in some time.

Recently, in my submissions pile, I’ve been finishing full manuscripts to realize I don’t have “that feeling.” I don’t want to talk to someone immediately about it, I don’t feel my heart race, I don’t think “I need this book now.” It’s the reading equivalent of a shrug–and a shrug isn’t enough to acquire a book. It’s disappointing, but I’m optimistic something that makes me feel bright and shiny and awed and jumpy will come around soon.

You know those books that are just pure magic? The ones where you read one sentence and know that you’re in. The ones that make your heart flutter and your eyes linger over a single page. The book you’re convinced was written just for you?

Well, that’s how I feel about Rules of Civility. Except I’ve taken it a step further: this book wasn’t just written for me; I was born to read this book. After many years staring at and referencing this cover, I finally bought myself a copy. (Whoever recommended this to me about two weeks ago, please make yourself known! It gave me the push I needed.) This does have an exemplary cover. It tells you everything you need to know: sophisticated, aspirational, slyly sexy historical fiction. And the inside delivers.

I will probably have much more to say about it soon, but for now I’m savoring each word.

Sunday, March 25

Good morning! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

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Here is my book: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

And here is my breakfast: Coffee (and baguette, not pictured, from Eric Kayser)

I’ve had this ARC of The Miniaturist since 2014 or 2015, swiped from the free take shelf at work. I remember thinking it was such a prize. I don’t often keep books from the take shelf around for long; if I haven’t read them or added them to my home collection within a couple months, I usually put them back. I have enough unread material at home and a pipeline of submissions on my iPad to keep me reading until the world ends.

But I love this cover so much, I couldn’t bear to get rid of it. I was going to read it someday, I promised myself. Because who wouldn’t love a novel about a dollhouse during the Dutch Golden Age? I’ve never been to The Netherlands, but I’ve armchair traveled there plenty (The Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Goldfinch–just putting those in the same sentence makes me laugh!).

I’ve been reading a lot of great historical fiction on submission recently, which makes me wonder if a renaissance is on its way (pun intended). Much of it has been set in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, all with a mystery or thriller component. World War II fiction has dominated for the past several years, and the rest of the historical fiction market has stagnated. I think fondly of the authors I read as a teenager–Sarah Dunant, Tracy Chevalier–and the historical thriller period I went through– The Rule of Four, The Shadow of the Wind–and wonder if those books would have found their audience today. I hope that the great rash of submissions in the category means that great writers and readers have renewed their appetites for these kinds of books. I’m certainly ready.

In the meantime, I’ll be savoring The Miniaturst.

Happy Reading!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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For the past few months, the entertainment that has given me the greatest amount of joy has been Crazy Rich Asians. I consumed this trilogy like some terrible addiction (oh, we’re not talking about my caffeine problem?) and I’ve been powerless to stop babbling about the series in every social situation.

I remember reading about the first (eponymous) book in the trilogy when it was first published, but I had just graduated college and had lived in a house of foreign students and felt I knew everything I really needed to know about people with money to burn. Over the years, I heard from every possible source that the Crazy Rich Asians and its follow-up China Rich Girlfriend, were hilarious, smart, and ridiculously fun. But I’m known for being stubborn.

The final installment, Rich People Problems, came out in May, and the media attention it received finally pushed me over the edge. I bought a copy of Crazy Rich Asians and decided to give it a shot.

With books I love, I tend to have a moment where I’m “in it.” I’m invested. The moment I know that I’m going to savor what comes next, the moment I know that–soon–I won’t be able to put the book down.

With Crazy Rich Asians, that moment happened at the end of the prologue. I started the book on a week night, so I tried to ration the book at first (you know, so I could still do important things like go to work)–a chapter with breakfast one morning, another before bed the next night–but I read the majority of the novel is one large gulp on a slow Saturday.

The book reads like the best gossip you’ve ever heard about people you like (Astrid, Nick & Rachel) and hate (Edison, Colette) in equal measure. This is a series that takes you inside the salons of Paris couturiers and the estates of secretive billionaires. Every book features the society something (wedding, gala, funeral) of the year–each more over the top than the last. I couldn’t help but root for these people. Money doesn’t always free you; often, it chains you.

Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel Chu, an American woman of Chinese descent, and her boyfriend, Nicholas Young–who, unbeknownst to her–comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore (actually, in all of Asia). Nick’s family is so rich they don’t appear on any list of rich families. Rachel and Nick are both professors, and Nick convinces Rachel to spend the summer with him in Asia, where he’s preparing for his best friend Colin Khoo’s wedding. Nick seems to be Singapore’s most eligible bachelor, and his family–particularly his mother Eleanor–has big plans for him. Plans that don’t include Rachel.

In China Rich Girlfriend, Nick and Rachel prepare for their wedding. Neither of them has spoken to his family since the engagement Nick’s mother and wealthy grandmother Su Yi tried to stop. Rachel, meanwhile, has grown curious about her biological father, and it turns out that Eleanor’s meddling will lead her straight to him.

In the final installment, Rich People Problems, Nick returns to Singapore after his grandmother’s health takes a turn for the worse. Her illness forces the family into a panic as everyone speculates about the contents of her will. With Su Yi estranged from her favorite grandson (Nick), several cousins jockey for position, hoping to inherit her grand estate in the heart of Singapore, which is worth billions.

Although Nick and Rachel provide a throughline for the series, I was equally (if not more) entranced by a number of other characters whose POVs are included. Astrid Leong, Nick’s favorite cousin, shops at the finest couture houses in Paris and mingles with nobles but lives in a comparatively small apartment in Singapore. Her home is a concession to her husband, Michael, an entrepreneur who insists on paying for their lifestyle himself (despite the fact that Astrid is worth hundreds of millions). When things go south with Michael, Astrid pines for her ex-fiancé Charlie, whose “new money” was looked down upon by her parents a decade ago. Astrid and Nick’s cousin Edison Cheng, whose insecurity about his wealth and his obsession with keeping up appearances (which involves forcing his wife and children to wear matching outfits) provides much of the series’ comic relief. And never underestimate the scheming of Eleanor Young, who has never felt fully accepted by her husband’s family and has all of her hopes pinned on Nick to inherit the bulk of his grandmother Su Yi’s estate–as long as he does exactly what’s expected of him.

When I finished Rich People Problems last week, I put the book down and thought “I would happily follow these people throughout the rest of their lives.” Three books in a series felt like too few, and I can’t remember the last time I thought that. I suppose there’s the movie to console me next year. But Kevin Kwan, if you’re reading, I’ll preorder books four, five, and six.

A Monday Breakfast: October 16, 2017

Good morning!

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Here is my book: The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

Here is my breakfast: Maple bacon biscuit (c/o Huckleberry cookbook) and coffee

It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve done one of these, and today I’m coming forward with a special Monday edition.

I’ve had an ARC of The Wangs vs. the World for a while now, but hadn’t cracked it. After getting sucked into Crazy Rich Asians, though, I decided I needed more in the same vein. The cover of the ARC and hardcover (the paperback cover is different) long perplexed me; I couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to represent, and I always believe that a cover should give you some indication of the story. I was about 20 pages in when the realization hit me–the Wangs made (and lost) their money manufacturing cosmetics; the dots on the cover represent lipstick swatches. I only wish I had known that from the outset! I would have thought it was terribly clever.

Now that fall submissions season is slowing down, I hope to get back to my regularly scheduled programming (reading recreationally) and posting here. In the meantime, you can follow some of my reads on Instagram. 

Books and Breakfast: Sunday, March 26

Good morning!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these.

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Here are my books: The Guineveres by Sarah Domet and Bleaker House by Nell Stevens

Here is my breakfast: homemade hash brows and sausage; coffee (obviously)

This blog is like my journal in a lot of ways: I always say I’m going to write in it, then I don’t. I come up with ideas I forget to jot down. And then I’m always surprised that it’s been so long.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I come up with birthday resolutions. I’m on my (gulp) 26 at 26. And one of the major items on that list is to come up with a more consistent posting strategy for this blog. So hopefully you’ll see me hanging out here a bit more.

I’m working my way through two books right now (see above). Bleaker House is mostly a memoir of a young woman who spends several months on Bleaker Island in the Falklands to work on a novel. The memoir is interspersed with short stories and excerpts from the aforementioned novel, which I really enjoy in context. A coworker and I had both received books in the mail on Wednesday and swapped. At first I was a little miffed because Bleaker Island is about 700 miles from Antarctica, and I have a longstanding semi-joke that I’m going to find a publisher for a memoir about moving to a French base in Antarctica (to be funded with the advance). But the writing is beautiful and the characters are vivid, and now I just want to go visit the Falklands.

I first read part of The Guineveres on submission, and I’m excited to read the full novel in its final form. The book follows four girls named Guinevere at a convent. I’m not far into it, but it’s drawn comparisons The Virgin Suicides (one of my favorite books), and the cover is gorgeous. You can’t tell here, but the strands of hair are embossed, and I keep running my fingers over the jacket.

Happy Sunday!

 

Sunday, October 23

Good morning!

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Here is my book: The Disappearing Spoon

Here is my breakfast: coffee and baguette tartine at Eric Kayser (pictured)

Let’s sit down at the table:

My friend Shelley was here to visit Wednesday-Friday. We watched the third and final debate in my living room, complete with #hottoddiesforhillary. On Thursday, the Eric Kayser on 74th, where I have had breakfast almost every weekend morning since I moved to New York three years ago, reopened after a fire five months ago. Although at first I didn’t enjoy the disruption to my routine, the closure did help me branch out with my neighborhood breakfast options.

I have a cold this weekend, so I’ve been staying in reading, writing and editing, and catching up on all the TV I’ve missed in the past week.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, October 16

Good morning!

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Here is my book: The Disappearing Spoon and And Then There Were None

Here is my breakfast: cappuccino and croissant from Shakespeare & Co.

Come join me at the table.

Last week was mostly calm, which I appreciated after the last two weeks ran me ragged. I didn’t make plans; I didn’t attend any events; I went to work and came home.

On the recommendation of my coworker, I started watching Younger, which is set in publishing. I’m really enjoying it so far, even if one character’s title as “junior editor” is driving me crazy.

A friend is coming to stay with me for a couple days this week, which means that today is dedicated to cleaning and tidying the apartment (switching out my closet included).

Happy Sunday!

Kait

 

Sunday, October 2

Good morning!

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Here is my book: The Fever by Megan Abbott (really, this week!)

Here is my breakfast: coffee and a homemade maple bacon biscuit (recipe from the Huckleberry cookbook)

How can it possibly be October? It seems like just yesterday August turned to September. It was warm in New York for much of September, but in the past week or so it’s turned cool. It rained most of last week. I pulled out my fall (but not yet winter) coats. I’m typing this from my terrace, wearing a cashmere sweater, staring at the small pumpkin perched on my patio table; it is not quite 60 degrees.

I spent most of last week preparing for my Breakfast at Tiffany’s party Friday night, which seemed like a big success. Wednesday, I had a handyman come and hang art on my walls, which have remained bare for six months. The apartment looks totally different with art; it feels warmer and lived in and more mine.

On Thursday, I had drinks with my cousin Joe, who was visiting for a work trip, at Spyglass, a rooftop bar at the top of the Archer Hotel. They had great drinks and a fantastic view of the Empire State Building just four blocks south.

After relaxing yesterday, I’m back to work reading submissions and preparing for the week ahead today.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Kait