The Librarians Have Spoken: The Club Gets The Results

Last month, we told you how we prayed to the Library Gods for recommendations for The Drinking Club. They replied, voice booming from the heavens, promising to answer us in two weeks. Which they did. And now I’m sharing the results…one month later. I have no defense.

The Almighty Alex, librarian extraordinaire, has suggested the titles below for our group. It’s a mix of literary fiction, nonfiction, and memoir. We’ve read one of them already, so we’re off to a great start.

  • The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez by Aaron Bobrow-Strain
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • Free Food for Millionaires by Min-Jin Lee
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman

This list is comprehensive. We got sci-fi, mystery, dystopian, coming-of-age stories, nature writing. It’s also fairly diverse–knowing full well publishing is primarily pale, male, and stale, and there are a plethora of experiences not captured on this list. Still, there are only two dudes. We’ll take it as a sign of progress.

As you will have noticed, Almighty Alex included The Power, which we read last fall. Alex clearly saw into our collective soul to make these recommendations, so I feel confident in saying that if we read one of these, a third of us would like it. Several of these have been on my TBR for a while. I feel I should hand in my bibliophile card for not having read Americanah yet. It reminds me of my inadequacy every time I find it on my bookshelf.

This just means we have to read one of these. The Library Gods have been magnanimous–all of these books are book discussion sets, meaning they have longer check-out lengths and multiple copies available. They also created a collection for these titles on their website that we can save to our library account. They’ve even named it: Books for a Savvy Book Club. They’re being very generous with that moniker. It would be rude not to read one of their suggestions.

So, what should we read next? Is there a title missing that you think jives with the rest of this list? Let us know!



The Happiest Hour – 10/5/19

“Oh Crystal Palace, how I’ve missed you,” said no one ever.

The temporary home to myself and New York’s ritziest pigeons carries the delicate scent of greasy fries and body odor. And we still have the rest of the weekend to spend together.

Here’s what you missed this week:




The Club Makes a Match

A love match, that is. With a book.

For those that thought it was with a human, I say to you: we have enough friends already, and have you been on Hinge recently?

The nose miners (I mean children) of New York City return to school today, an experience rife with matches: will your homeroom teacher be the mysterious youngish man, or the fossil the building was constructed around? Will your bestie be waiting for you in 5th period English, or will she be living it up with the rest of your friends in Bio, leaving you with an incurable case of FOMO? As the girl who bought her school supplies in July, my nostalgia peaks this time of year. I even perused the supply aisle in Target to see if anything has changed since my days of color coordinating Mead notebooks (it hasn’t). And while I’ll never feel the thrill of reading my class schedule for the first time again, I can find out what books I should be reading from the library.

The Brooklyn Public Library offers Bklyn BookMatch to card-carrying bibliophiles and anyone who walks in off the street. The free service provides a customized, five-book reading list for you, personally created by a librarian. I discovered this in a newsletter, when it announced the BPL would be offering book matches live for one day only in the Central Library. I thought they did that everyday, being librarians.

I went after work, completed a form…and then got too hungry to wait the 30 minutes for my recs. But now I’m here and committed to finding recommendations not for myself, but for the club. Because there will be a time when we need a solid pick because we waited too long to send AM our choice and she’s written us off.

I’ve kept our reading preferences purposefully vague, and not just because it’s our modus operandi. I’m curious to see what the librarian selects for us. I’ve provided our last read, and well as our current selection. I’ve also noted that we’re willing to try any book once, because they put a word limit on sharing dislikes. Anyone that knows The Club will know our scorn can never be shackled.

I’m so excited to share our matches with you…in two weeks. Which is about the same time it takes the average Murray Hill male to reply to your witty comment about his summer vacation story in your dating app chat.

Until then, I’m sorry the tiny humans will be taking all the subway seats on your commute.




The Happiest Hour – 7/13/19

What does it say about you when you’re shopping for a high school graduation present for your little cousin, and your eye goes straight for the cute wine tumbler? Nothing good, right? I’m afraid of the kind of mother I’ll be.

Here’s what you missed this week:

  • “’I’m trying not to be too Sherlock Holmes about it, but if there’s such a thing as a quite distinctive rip, well, he or she rips the page in half horizontally and sometimes removes half the page.’” That is a real quote, from a real news story, about the Book Ripper. You heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen. (The Guardian)
  • Bless the librarian who created the noise hotline. (Buzzfeed)
  • I’ve got the morbs because I was poked up about the bald-headed butter. Let’s make this a thing again. (Open Culture)
  • All hail the OG troll, Hans Traxler. (Atlas Obscura)




The Happiest Hour – 11/23/18

This week, we’re coming to you from our childhood bedroom, the only place safe from: former classmates who have taken up residence in the local pub; mothers with too much caffeine finishing their holiday shopping at Target; and family members with well-meaning but ill-advised questions about our lives. Also, it’s the perfect spot to sleep off our hangover turkey coma. Let’s jump right in:

  • We’ll get the serious business out of the way: The New York Times released their 100 Notable Books of 2018. Go for the literary street cred; stay for the strange book angel.
  • A man in Fairbanks, Alaska got drunk, and then broke into his local library to read. Yep, sounds about right.
  • And while we’re on the topic: here are weird hangover cures from Ancient Greece to today. Can we bring back wine therapy?
  • Tis the season for miracles: An English bookstore sold their copy of a William the Conqueror biography for children 27 YEARS after it arrived in the store. We wish it and its new owner every happiness.




But First, The Club Takes a Shelfie

Jane Austen wrote in Pride & Prejudice, “I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Truer words, friends. Up until recently, my books, and MV’s, were scattered across our apartment. They were on a single IKEA bookcase, tucked into unreachable corners of the living room, and shoved under nightstands in stacks that threatened to topple the furniture. And then, a miracle appeared in the form of another matching IKEA bookcase, magically transported and installed to mirror the existing piece (and by magic, I mean our Dad trucked it in from dirty Jerz and mounted it to the wall. He’s the best.).

The shelves are not organized by the Dewey Decimal System, or any system for that matter. They’re shelved in the order they were pulled from the moving boxes and the piles on the floor. The only design element is a small stack of paperbacks in the middle of a top shelf, which is also home to a framed picture (because I ran out of shelf space for that too).

Nothing quite illustrates the lengths we go to create any kind of space for our libraries like Sloane Crosley’s Virtues of Shelf-lessness, her recent NYT essay on her chosen method of storage: the moldings that frame the ceilings of her apartment. Last month’s author has created what she calls a “sentimental library” along the moldings, a system that catalogs titles based not only on the feeling they evoked upon the first reading, but also the location within the apartment that best matches it. For example: books that inspire are housed near the desk, while books that entertain and relax live above the couch (my question: what goes in the bathroom?).

However, most of us don’t have those desirable pre-war fixtures in our hobbit holes. So here, we share with you: our shelfies, in all their organized, chaotic, postmodern glory (you’ll understand at the end).





Like all things in my life, my bookshelf is organized chaos. I keep the books I’m reading and books I want to read next on my nightstand shelves. Once I’ve read a book, I move it to the living room bookshelves. There are a variety of genres on my bookshelf, and there is only one method of organization- squeeze all the books in until they fit.




Right after college I moved home with my parents, and there my books were mostly organized by when I read them (similar to what Sloane Crosley says in her article) but when I packed up my books to move into the city in 2015, I wanted them to look neater so I organized by color in my first apartment and it stuck! Right now color is the only organizing principle, but I keep a small stack of books that I’m currently reading or need to read in my room and off the shelves (these books shelves are in our common living room area.) Plus library books go on living room ottoman, and stacks of to-be-read New Yorkers are on the chairs near the book shelves, ha!! 




AM calls this work of art “No Frills, Just Adventures.” The cataloging method: “[a] loose width order, only because my OCD will not allow for a larger book to be above a smaller one.”




If there were ever a manifestation of my commitment issues, this would be it. Here is my beautiful, hypothetical shelfie. I shit you not, the tape has been there for 2 months and will stay there as I debate the placement of the shelves for another 6. 


[The books] live under my nightstand and in a cube thing in the hall. The cube is hard to photograph, so here is my nightstand. Big dreams to one day pull the damn trigger on my fear of permanence by way of drilling holes into my wall so that my books have a place to live.

I’ll give you one guess who among us is a professional photographer.


Sloane ends her essay by reflecting on her desire to inflict order on her “shelves.” Maybe she should organize her books alphabetically, or chronologically. Or maybe, she realizes, she already has everything she needs. I tend to agree with her. A lived-in “shelf” is far more personal than a curated, Instagrammable collection meant to impress a critic. Author Tahereh Mafi has said “I love walking into a bookstore. It’s like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.” I’d to imagine that our books are friends, cozying up to each other to make room for that one book you just had to get from the $1 bin and shove onto the shelf. Because what are books, if not our most loyal companions?

Well, wine is up there too. But books are definitely in the top five. We’re not totally depraved.