The Happiest Hour – 3/20/20


When I wrote last week’s post, I didn’t think we would be here a week later. The world is in freefall, waiting to slam into rock bottom. And each day, that bottom seems farther away. Many of us (myself included) are boomeranging between existential dread and some distant relative of cautious optimism. An optimist at heart, I believe we will come out of this, though I know it won’t be without some bruises and concerns about what our future will look like. So for now, I’m taking it one day at a time. And I’m wishing you and yours health and sanity during this challenging time (the understatement of the month. I can’t even justify saying the year because IT’S ONLY MARCH).

Here’s what you missed while refreshing your news app this week:

  • Comfort reads from the literary cool kids. (NY Times)
  • How independent bookstores are adapting to the age of COVID-19. (Vulture)
  • While many stores and shuttering, and publishers are cancelling book tours, we can still support our local indies and authors! Check out this list of authors who would have been touring now and support if you can. (Bookshop)
  • Drinking Club favorite Sloane Crosley advocates for a little distance before we submit Love in the Time of COVID. (NY Times)
  • Sports are on hold. The Bachelorette is postponed. Might we suggest #LiteraryMarchMadness to fill your Fantasy League needs? (NYPL)




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.




The Drinking Club with a Reading Problem Meets…and Decides We Want the Honest Truth

It was a weird week. The lunar blood moon eclipse was last night, the longest full blood moon we will see in our lifetime. Making this the longest week we will endure in our lifetime (hah, who are we kidding). Mercury also went into retrograde on the 26th. Translation: brace yourself for the extra crap the universe is about to throw our way, just for the heck of it.

Which is the perfect segue to the club’s latest read, Look Alive Out There. You may know Sloane Crosley from her first collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, an ode to twenty-somethings trying to hack it in the Big Apple. Or possibly her novel, The Clasp, about a hot mess love triangle that traipses across Europe in search of a necklace lost during the Nazi occupation of France that served as the inspiration for a famous short story. I enjoyed The Clasp; her protagonists are self absorbed and coming to terms with the unfulfilled dreams of their youth (they’re in their late twenties). But there is something so authentic about their messy and indulgent quarter life crises that you go along for the ride, and hope they come out the other side more self aware. And who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Pairs well with: Cabernet Sauvignon and meaningful discussions about why we will not date someone that chews with their mouth open.

But I digress. During our meeting last night, between bites of Trader Joes’ mushroom and truffle flatbread, we had our standard five minute discussion of our read. Our thoughts: we love Sloane’s voice. Her essay about Jared, the privileged high schooler from hell? Phenomenal. We’ve never related to a story more. We got lost in the middle of the collection, feeling as confused as she was in the chapter where she got altitude sickness in the mountains of Peru. But she got us back with her final essay. Her struggle to decide whether she wants, or is even cut out for, motherhood resonated with us. As a group of women in their mid-twenties, a decision like this feels foreign, a choice relegated to the realm of the real grownup. Sloane’s uncertainty leads to a revelation about what may make a good parent: a willingness to share your experiences with a tiny human and impart some of the wisdom you’ve gathered, so they can go out into the world armed with knowledge. If you can manage that, then you might be suited for it after all.

All this talk of nonexistent children led to a very interesting dialogue on relationships, covering everything from what’s everyone’s type, to whether we would want a friend to tell us if they didn’t like our significant other. Our answer: if we ask what you think of him, we want the truth. None of us want to go too far down a path only to discover that the people who know us best think there is someone more compatible out there.

What else is new with the club? How kind of you to ask:

  • We have two book related events on the calendar: books and brunch in Hoboken (stay tuned for more indie bookstore adventures), and movie night, where we each consume a (large) amount of wine while watching a terrible book-to-movie adaptation. Current nominees are Twilight and The Great Gatsby. Recommendations welcome.
  • DR is killing it at work, earning herself a promotion and additional awesomeness.
  • MM escaped attending San Diego Comic-Con to run her company’s activation, while yours truly spent the week inside the convention center selling books and trying not to get swept away by the crowds (I can’t complain though: there a few things better than a California sky and a warm sea breeze).
  • AM, after watching Kid Gorgeous seven times, may have a future as a John Mulaney impersonator.
  • DD is ready to help the singles mingle. And by that, I mean she wants to set us all up on blind dates with her single guys friends.

What else are we reading/watching/listening to:


Until next time,


The Club Celebrates the 4th…With a Book

Hello Readers,

It’s July 4, a day for sparklers, a cold Bud, and blisters from walking endless blocks to secure the perfect firework-gazing spot. While our political climate seems more contentious than ever, there is one thing we can agree on: it’s the perfect day to kickstart your summer reading. What do we have on the docket? Let’s start with our latest club pick:



Sloane Crosley’s latest collection of essays, Look Alive Out There, hit shelves a decade after her first collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. She’s back with more hilarious adventures, from scaling volcanoes to crashing shivas. MV was reading this in the park last weekend, and might have spent more time laughing while reading, than actually reading. More of our thoughts are coming later this month.



As I wrote in our last missive, I have a massive writing crush on Joan Didion. An entry about summer reads (especially on ‘Murica’s birthday) seemed incomplete without Didion’s latest book, a collection of her notes from the 1970s. The first set, “Notes on the South,” documents a road trip she took with her husband through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. She vividly documents a world of horse shows, political soirees, and empty highways that, to today’s reader, may not seem that different from the South of today. The second portion of the book, “California Notes,” reflects on Didion’s childhood in Sacramento, and what “The West” means to those along the Pacific Coast. If you want to get a glimpse into a brilliant mind, and understand what America’s varied landscapes mean to the people that inhabit them, then add this to your list.


Blog - 7.4.18 Post

To me, summer reading has often meant a bone-chilling thriller to dive into at the beach (as if the seagulls aren’t terrifying enough). A few of my favorites: The Woman in Cabin 10, which I recently finished on a hot summer morning in the park (while MV read Sloane Crosley). Ruth Ware fills the pages with badass women who refuse to be held captive, something we can all aspire to. Sharp Objects premieres on HBO this weekend; if you haven’t dipped into Gillian Flynn’s twisted thriller with more mommy issues than any one person should have, then I highly recommend jumping in. This last title is one of my favorite series that my Dad and I read together. Relic introduces readers to the rule-breaking, justice-seeking Special Agent Pendergast as he investigates mysterious murders inside the Museum of Natural History.


I’ll cap off our list with an essential summer read by an author often called The Queen of the Summer Read: Elin Hilderbrand. While I have yet to read her latest summer hit, The Perfect Couple, I thoroughly enjoyed The Identicals, a book that solidified herself as a mainstay on summer reading lists and in beach totes nationwide. Twin sisters living on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, respectively, decide to swap islands and lives over the course of one summer. There’s family drama, romance, and plenty of lobster rolls and wine consumed while gazing at the Atlantic. What more could want? Oh, right: some more wine to go along with your summer reading.