RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

afterlight

I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

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Bonjour! I’ve Come to Return the Book I Borrowed!

I’m going to Paris.

(pause for dramatic effect because I can’t believe I just typed that sentence)

Yes, it’s true. My friend Channing, her mom and I are going to visit our friend Serena, who’s studying abroad in the City of Lights. It’s been one of my lifelong bucket list destinations—I studied French language, culture and history for 12 years in school, so it’s hard to imagine that soon (God willing) I’ll actually be in the Louvre. And eating real baguettes. Walking along the Seine, and mingling amongst the endlessly chic Parisiennes.

Naturally, as soon as I booked my trip, I went into Paris overdrive. While I’ve enjoyed watching nothing but the movies Amélie, Funny Face, and Midnight in Paris over and over, one night after work I decided that I also wanted to get a great guide book, pick up some lit from the Lost Generation, and brush up on my Français. This called for a quick trip to the bookstore.

But alas, I work in midtown. A couple of years ago, I could’ve walked right over to Columbus Circle and popped in Border’s, or strolled up a few blocks to the massive Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Center. But both have shuttered (RIP), not leaving me with many options. Of course, I prefer independent bookstores, and I can spend hours in The Strand and Three Lives in the Village, but for a quick after-work trip, I found it hard to believe there aren’t any good spots in midtown.

And then—after a quick Google search—I found the Rizzoli bookstore on 57th Street between 5th and 6th, right by the F train stop I get on after work. As soon as I opened the door, my heartbeat quickened and I actually squealed. I’d died and gone to literary heaven, and I couldn’t believe it’d taken me so long to find it.

photo courtesy of qantas.com

Three floors full of fiction, beautiful coffee table books, travel guides, gorgeous maps, indie movies, international music and foreign language magazines, all lit by stunning chandeliers. Yes, please! I picked up an assortment of all things Paris-inspired:

I’ve gone back a few times since my first visit just to walk around in a daze like the dorky bookworm that I am. Rizzoli is officially my new solo hang out spot.

P.S. Speaking of books and New York City, I can’t believe I missed this video “B*tches in Bookshops,” a literary spoof of Jay-z and Kanye West’s “N*ggas in Paris” when it first popped up in March. It’s pretty much my theme song. “Know how many bookmarks I own?” Classic. And the Belle from Beauty and the Beast reference? (hence, my blog post title)

Floor 36 Review: Something Borrowed Was Something Good!

From the Something Borrowed movie site

So remember I was a bit skeptical about how the movie version of Something Borrowed, one of my favorite chick lit books, was going to do based on the trailer?

Well I was pleasantly surprised when I went to go see the movie on opening night on Friday w/ my best friend, who was also the one who introduced me to the book and Emily Giffin. I rarely think that movies do a good job of adapting a book, but this was one exception that I thought was really close. We both thought they did a great job of casting Ginnifer Goodwin as the sweet, self-deprecating brunette Rachel, Kate Hudson as the self-centered, ditzy Darcy and Colin Eggelsfield, an actor I was unfamiliar with, as Dex—I couldn’t stop drooling over him the whole movie, which was perfect, because that’s how I felt about him while reading the book.

I also thought the New York scenes were great. They incorporated Shake Shack, Bryant Park, the Village and the Hamptons, all classic New York places, in a way that didn’t feel overdone, like it does in so many New York-based romantic comedies. Overall, I laughed, I teared up, and talked out loud to the screen—all signs of a good movie that I will buy on DVD.

Unfortunately, it seems like me and my friend are the only ones who had a positive reaction—I’ve read tons of negative reviews, and in the theater on Friday there was only a handful of people, which is never a good sign for opening night. So I guess I won’t hold my breath that the sequel will also hit the big screen…but I sure wish it would!

Something Borrowed: The Trailer

A few years ago, I fell in love with Emily Giffin, who I have come to consider the Queen of Chick Lit. Her books are mostly about 20-somethings in New York finding themselves, which sounds typical, but her writing is witty, smart, and relatable, which is what I think sets her apart. My love affair with her and her books began with Something Borrowed, her first novel, about a New York attorney who falls in love with her best friend’s fiance (I know, I know, it sounds like “been there, read that” but trust me, once you start you’ll be hooked!) So when I first heard that they were making Something Borrowed into a movie with Kate Hudson (who I have a major girl crush on) and Ginnifer Goodwin (who seemed in my mind like the perfect fit to play Rachel, the main character) I was ecstatic. And then I saw yesterday that the trailer is HERE!

 

 

Unfortunately, however, I can already tell from the trailer that, as with 99% of books-turned-movies, this film won’t hold a candle to the book. The trailer leaves much to be desired—in fact, if I hadn’t read the book, I would probably think this was just another lame-o romantic comedy. And I was surprised that I hadn’t realized it before, but Kate Hudson in this role is surprisingly similar to her character in Bride Wars. Hmmm…makes me wonder how this didn’t cross anybody’s mind while casting.

Regardless, I’ll keep the faith that there will be many great aspects of the movie that were left out of the trailer. And if it is a flop, I’ll still love the book and …if I’m being completely honest, I must confess that I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy, no matter how cheesy. (How cheesy can I deal with, you ask? I laughed and cried during Leap Year. Yea, I said it.)

So no matter what May 6th, I’ll be ready to buy some popcorn and a ticket!

Floor 36 Book Review: Platinum

Image courtesy of AliyaSKing.com

Last night, I met Aliya S. King at the Columbus Circle Borders book signing of her new book “Platinum.” I’ve followed her career for a few years now–she’s a talented and experienced magazine journalist with a hilarious and entertaining blog, so when I got my hands on an advanced copy of “Platinum” a few months ago, I was eager to read it. A few weeks ago, I had sent Aliya a review of the book that I intended to post on my blog.

After she read it, I didn’t want to post it since I wanted it to just be for her, but when she told me last night that she truly appreciated it, I decided to share an abridged version on the blog.

“Platinum” by Aliya S King: 4/5 Stars

I started reading it on Friday of Memorial Day weekend and finished it Sunday night, and the only reason it even took that long was because I had the typical Memorial Day cookouts and trips to the pool in between. I’ll admit, at first, I was a little weary because of the title. The name “Platinum” sounded like street lit, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But from knowing King’s work (her Vibe story on the death of Al Green’s gf was seriously eye-opening–check it out HERE) I knew it would be a great read, and from the first chapter I was literally riveted and had to keep reading from chapter to chapter.

The book is a look into the lives of fictional wives and significant others of rappers and entertainers. There are not-so-thinly veiled references to real stars (if you read the book, I see Jake and Kipenzi as Beyonce and Jay-z, Clare and Zander as Rihanna and Chris Brown, etc. King revealed at the reading last night that Z and his wife are loosely based off DMX and his wife Tashera). The book is truly supported by King’s writing from each character’s perspective. She really created personalities and points of views for each persona that made it hard for me to pick a favorite–I even felt empathy for Cleo, the character that closely emulates Karinne aka Superhead. Also, the way King leaves the reader hanging at the end of each chapter makes you want to speed through to find out what happens next, and left me grateful to hear that King signed a book deal for the sequel.

The negative: it did feel like a more modern version of a book I had read before (it really, especially with the cover art, reminded me of Erica Kennedy’s “Bling”) but I think that comes along with the genre and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Books about the hip-hop/r&b industry with hidden references to real people are all kind of in the same realm. I think, however, that the audience that’s reading these kinds of books need something that isn’t just trashy and all about drugs and video girls but something that’s smart and funny, which King provided.

So overall, it wasn’t exactly a deep-life changing book, but it’s great for the lighthearted who are looking for a really entertaining and accurate portrayal of the world of hip-hop and the music industry. And as King said last night, when she used to think about writing a book, she thought of deep, African-American, Zora Neale Hurston style literature. But then she shared that she realized, at the end of the day, “writers just write.” And as an aspiring author myself, that’s a quote I’ll never forget.

Floor 36 Book Review: “Hush” by Kate White

If you know me at all, you know that I am a total bookworm. I just love to devour a good book, and I love to pass along that good read to others even more. Many of the books I come across are set in New York or written by New York authors, so I thought my blog would be the perfect place to share reviews of some of my favorites written by New Yorkers or set in the city.

First up:

“Hush” by Kate White: 3/5 stars

I had never read any of the books by Kate White, Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. Of all the genres I typically read, mysteries and thrillers usually aren’t among them. But after hearing White speak at a magazine event I attended, I became further intrigued by her, especially when she mentioned the premise for her new thriller “Hush.”

The plot: Marketing consultant and recently divorced mother of two Lake Warren finds herself in a new consulting position at a fertility clinic that is looking to increase its visibility. All is going well until she falls for one of the new doctors at the clinic and, after a one-night fling, stumbles upon the aftermath of his murder. Realizing that all signs point to her as the culprit, Warren spends most of the novel desperately trying to find the real killer and while trying to keep it cool at work and avoid an ugly custody battle with her ex-husband at the same time.

Why I gave it three stars: White has a distinct writing style that fits the genre well and keeps you turning the pages in anticipation, wondering what’s going to happen next. The main character was very relatable and I found myself wondering what I would do in her situation many times throughout the book. Also, much of the plot, including the ending, was surprisingly unpredictable. It was truly a thriller in that sense–I even found myself gasping in surprise in a few places, which is what makes me want to add the rest of White’s thrillers to my to-read list.

Why I deducted two stars: There were a few cheesy aspects (starting with the main character’s name–Lake Warren?) and a few things that were just a little too convenient (like the fact that her two kids were away at summer camp when everything happened). While it was a good, tantalizing read, it’s not exactly a piece of great literature, but then again, how many mystery/thrillers are?

Should you read it? Yes. Overall, it’s not the best book you’ll read in your life, but if your looking for a good, quick page turner with a likable protagonist that will have you yelling at the pages “run the OTHER way!!” this one’s for you.