We will eventually - some day?! - publish a list of summer reading. Maybe in July, though probably in August, which is when we have fond memories of speed-reading through our middle-school summer reading lists on interminably long, hot days. But really, who knows when we'll get to it? Summer melts all intentions, it seems.
In the meantime, we've got book recommendations for HOTELS to offer you in lazy bits and pieces, in the hopes that we can provide you with stray strand of inspiration to help you through the dog-days of summer, or a helpful suggestion as you sit pondering your choices in an airport bookstore.
The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
I found The Beautiful and the Damned on the bookshelf of my boyfriend's apartment, incongruously placed between dozens of very serious German novels as well as sports personalities' autobiographies, in an old Oxford University Press edition - the kind that features bossy introductions and fun-to-read endnotes on need-to-know trivia, such as the 5th stanza of Swineburne's A Forsaken Garden (1876) and the names of 1920s nightclubs.
I grabbed it just as we headed out the door for a flight to Rome, as a backup to The Golden Notebook, which was a good idea on my part because I always plan to read Doris Lessing's work of genius but somehow never manage to (see my good intentions HERE).
I had read (and definitely - though vaguely?- enjoyed) The Beautiful and the Damned once before, maybe ten years ago. But this second time around, I energetically, even enthusiastically, loved it, in a way that made me think my most cynical days are not yet upon me. Maybe all Fitzgerald is like this, or maybe it's the effect of reading a book on holiday, but it felt simultaneously fresh and entertaining, languid and depressing - that would be, dismal in a glamorous way - and, more than anything, strangely modern.
Though The Plaza looms largest in this novel - we meet its female lead, Gloria, on the 10th floor, in her full-bloom beauty and debutante youth - all the characters are constantly suggesting meeting in this or that fancy hotel: The Biltmore for tea, a haircut at The Plaza, or a reviving egg nog (knowing it to be the balm it is) at The Ritz.
Then they returned toward the Plaza, talking about nothing, but glad for the spring singing in the air and for the warm balm that lay upon the suddenly golden city. To their right was the Park, while at the left a great bulk of granite and marble muttered dully a millionaire's chaotic message to whosoever would listen [...]
All the newest and most beautiful designs in automobiles were out on Fifth Avenue, and ahead of them the Plaza loomed up rather unusually white and attractive. The supple, indolent Gloria walked a short shadow's length ahead of him, pouring out lazy casual comments that floated a moment on the dazzling air before they reached his ear.
I give it 5 Stars for the sheer number of ur-Luxury Hotels Gloria and Anthony Patch frequent, for the dazzlingly steep trajectory of their decline and subsequent ruin, and because the idea of getting a haircut at the The Plaza is a great one.
Next up: Hotel World, by Ali Smith