Customs officer: “Anything to declare Miss?” Me: “Just books. Mountains and mountains of books.”
“Book lovers never go to bed alone…” is the tag line for the amazing Library Hotel. I had the thrill of visiting their NYC location in March. I wanted to do something spectacular and memorable for my milestone birthday. And what better way to celebrate (for me!) than to visit this beautiful boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan. From the planning stages to the booking stage, I was pumped. This small hotel boasted rooms organized by the Dewey Decimal system along with many other perks like a 24/7 Reading Room and fresh continental breakfasts served each morning. The staff was delightful and so helpful as my husband and I organized our few days away. We wanted to make the most of NYC while we were there.
Although both of us had previously visited NYC, it had been a while. The hotel was thoughtful providing weather forecasts each evening for the next day, turn-down service and little touches like a card for my birthday with truffles. Another perk of the hotel was the offer of FREE BOOKS in the lobby while we were guests there. Although the copies were advanced editions, it was a unique perk of the hotel.
We were close to many places and favoured to walk as the weather had yet to turn to the nasty snow storm. As we explored the city we found little book shops tucked away, the New York Public Library, The Strand Bookstore and Grand Central Station. The streets were clean and the people friendly as I had remembered. It wasn’t Las Vegas or any other spectacular holiday destination like Disney World but as a book lover, it was incredible!
We stayed in the Communication Room which housed its own library of books to read. In my feature photo for this post, many of those books are photographed. The rooms are small but cosy and we would read in our room or move into the Reading Room just to relax and unwind after a day exploring this iconic city.
Now let’s get to the books! At the time of our trip I was reading Opening Heaven’s Door: What the Dying May Be Trying to Tell Us About Where They’re Going by Patricia Pearson. Certainly a heavy subject on a birthday holiday but it happened to be my book club’s pick for the month. I found snippets of time to squeeze in chapters here and there. I did like the book as it was well researched while connecting it to the author’s own personal experiences with death. I certainly feel more educated about near-death-experiences (NDE) and how both secular and religious people can open their minds to experience what happens after we die. From a personal perspective I witnessed much of what the author was exploring as my own father faced his final days in hospice three years ago. The book offered me some comfort as I looked back on that sorrowful time yet I imagine this book is not for everyone as some of the nonagenarians in my book club opted; understandably; not to read the book.
As we prepared to leave my idea of paradise on a snowy March morning, I left without regret. The Hotel Library was one of the most inviting hotels I have ever stayed in. For all you book lovers like me, it is a must-see. I look forward to visiting again or exploring one of their other locations around the globe.
It started in grade 9 English when I read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. What should have been an epic entry into the world of Science Fiction turned sour very fast. The book was confusing and choppy and at the time, my English teacher was having some issues or at least we think she was. Perhaps if I had some better guidance I would have embraced Bradbury and his attempt to write in the short story genre (more on short stories in a later blog post).
Fast forward a few decades and I have learned to like and even enjoy the genre. Why wouldn’t I as a self-professed lover of Star Trek, Star Wars and Firefly? As I delved deeper into the genre at the behest of my husband, I learned to appreciate the genre for its unique qualities. As Joyce Saricks says, “Even the biggest science nerd in the world appreciates a good story, and the SF novels that tell good stories are the ones we need to know to share, especially with readers who might not consider themselves fans of the genre.” And she should know as the Queen of genre writing.
My first real attempt at enjoying the genre came as I read The Unit by Swedish author Ninni Holmqvist. I was skeptical but intrigued. As I read further into the book I started to see the appeal of this multi-faceted genre. My conscience was rattled. My ethical radar shot up as the story unfolded. I started to think that this could happen to us! After reading the novel I thought about it for days. That is one thing I really appreciate about the SF genre is the WHAT IF? questions that stew in your brain long after the book is closed.
From that time I have read other SF books including most recently A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle which I would have loved as a 10-13 year child. The genre is valuable for so many reasons and I often found that my students would gravitate to this genre reading such titles as: 1984, Ender’s Game, Frankenstein, Dune, I Robot, and The War of the Worlds.
As for Mr. Bradbury, I rediscovered his writing through the highly original Fahrenheit 451 which offered me a good look into the dangers of censorship and defiance. Book burning! Oh the horror!! I’m not done with this genre yet.
Bedtime reading with my children is non negotiable even when I am exhausted. From the womb I was reading to my bio-baby and we have loved stories ever since. So many parents can underestimate the importance of reading early and often to their children.
From the parent lens, I know the importance of reading to my children each day. We talk about the stories and sometimes make up stories along the way and the results have been amazing! We love to go to the library and bookstore and seek out new reads and old favourites.
Recently we read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by the talented Kate DiCamillo. The story was so beautifully illustrated by the Bagram Ibatoulline and we were utterly captivated by the story and the journey that Edward the China Rabbit made. Aside from the wonderful story, it was a time for us to bond after the busyness of school and activities. There were many questions about Edward and the different characters who found him every few chapters. It took us many nights to get through the story but that time with my son was gold. Next we hope to tackle The Little Prince by author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Tonight I had the pleasure of reading to my foster son a silly book with nursery rhymes. As I sang Three Little Monkeys and the other rhymes in the book, he started to participate and be silly with me. This amazing child cannot get enough of books and is so wanting to read. He will get there – that I have no doubt. Yet because I do not know if he was exposed to reading in his first four years, I worry needlessly. This beautiful child cannot get enough of the books that fill the shelves in our home and we are incredibly fortunate to have a supportive SK teacher who encourages his reading and writing.
So as a final thought about bedtime reading, I encourage all parents to take that time to read to their children and have them read to you when they are ready. It will amaze you!