My Literary, Artsy and Beachy Summer Adventures 2018

This has been a busy summer for me as I have enjoyed many books, from family sagas like A Place For Us, to stories of strong women like The Weight Of Ink, to page turners and beach reads like Something in the Water and Vox.

I attended book launching events celebrating Jenna Blum and The Lost Family, Nancy Balbirer and A Marriage in Dog Years, and Susie Orman Schnall and The Subway Girls, and participated in engaging book group discussions for Educated, An American Marriage and Song of a Captive Bird.

I was thrilled to go to the East Hampton Library fundraiser, Authors Night, where I had a brush wth fame, as I was face to face with Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria Baldwin, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and Geraldo Rivera.


I also visited with many wonderful authors there, including Jamie Brenner (The Forever Summer and The Husband Hour).  Visit my Book Nation by Jen Facebook Page to see all my photos from the star-studded event!


I stole a few days away with a friend, and in July we visited the Pollack- Krasner House in East Hampton, where Jackson Pollack lived and painted.  We experienced the signature Pollack technique of drip painting and strolled the incredible sculpture garden at Longhouse Reserve where Chilluly and De Kooning pieces are amongst those on display.  It was an incredibly fun, action packed artsy get-away!






Also, during the summer, the theater was calling my name and I saw two incredible Broadway musicals, Once On This Island and Come From Away. The rest of the days I spent relaxing, swimming, reading and catching up with friends at the beach in Amaganssett, NY and Westport, CT.

IMG_3826.jpgAmagansett, NY sunrise

IMG_3974.jpgWestport, CT sunset

In addition, I have started a fun, new job at Bedside Reading, a unique business that places complementary books at the bedside in 5 star luxury and beach hotels.  Publishers and authors can join the program (click here to apply) and once their book is accepted and in place we promote it in many ways, including in magazines and multiple social media networks.  I am thrilled that hotel guests across the country will be receiving fantastic books in their rooms like Jeanne Blasberg’s Eden, and Christine Pakkala’s Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green along with Leah DeCesare’s audiobook of Forks, Knives and Spoons!  Also guests will be treated to Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke and Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage!  So great to be part of a team that spreads the love of books and sweetens the lap of luxury!

It is bittersweet for me as we wind down the summer, with just a few days left before my 21 year old son returns to college for his senior year. My 15 year old son is already busy studying for ACTs, practicing his viola for his Youth Symphony audition, and finishing his summer assignments in preparation for junior year.  Time goes so fast, especially in the summer!


This is my older son with photobomb by Chris Martin of Coldplay!

I will be going full force trying to tackle my “To Be Read” pile of books in between my work projects, and attempting to remain sane by attending my beloved dance class at Dance Express with Luisa for the 15th year!

Hope you enjoy the last dog days of summer! (This is Bogey!)


Thanks so much for following Book Nation by Jen!  I would love to hear about your warm weather adventures!  Did you go on vacation?  What did you read? What keeps you sane?




Indulge in Books the Way You Would in a Well Balanced Meal!



Story originally published on

Recently someone asked me about my reading choices; do I stick to one topic or do I switch it up at all? I hadn’t thought about it much before but after reviewing my recent reads, I concluded that I am a true genre hopper. I go from fiction to memoir to historical fiction, thriller, essays and nonfiction. Like a well-balanced meal, I do indulge in a bit of everything.

Click on to see what’s on my table!


My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul


My Review:

I received multiple copies of My Life with Bob as a gift for my birthday; evidently several people believed I would enjoy it and of course, they were right!  As a reader, what’s not to like about a book about someone who loves books.

Author Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review kept a record of everything she read in her Book of Books (Bob) for almost 30 years.  Her memoir takes us along her life journey with the list of everything she read along the way from her teen years to adulthood.  This journal, Bob, is synonymous with her, representing a diary with hopes and dreams, the good, the bad and the ugly.  The books she read impacted her life and her life influenced the books she read.  She mentions so many, lots of titles I haven’t read and some I have never heard of, but no matter, the story of her life is intriguing and interesting and her story about Bob is inspirational and motivating.

Pamela is open and honest as she shares stories from her travels, relationship issues, family matters and personal disappointments along with joys and celebrations.  When she recounts the toast her husband, Michael, made at their wedding, mentioning books she gave him early in their relationship and quoting from Great Expectations, I admit, I shed a tear. She conveyed experiences that touched her in such a way that they touched me too;  beautifully written creating a wonderful connection between author and reader.

Pamela talks about her bookclub and everyone’s answers to the question Why Read?

“I read for sheer entertainment.”

“I read to learn.”

“I read to make sense of the world.”

“I read to find out something new.”

“I read to escape.”

“I read because it makes me happy.”

“I read for discovery.”

“For each of us, there seemed to be one core need that drove us to read on.  But it was more complicated than that, as the ensuing conversation soon revealed.  Everyone experiences most of these urges at different moments, or during certain periods of our lives, which is why most good readers read widely, even if they tend to go deep into one genre or another.”

I enjoyed thinking about the various styles of books I read, and much like how music of a certain time in your like evokes feelings and memories for so many, books can do the same and more.  Pamela travelled all over the country, got married, divorced, remarried, had children, changed jobs, yet her Book of Books remained with her to ground her, keep her accountable and motivate her to continue plowing ahead, all the while representing her journey.  Each title has significance during a time in her life and the draw to keep adding to the list is real.  I wish I kept a Bob from the beginning but more recently I began to record what I read on My Goodreads Account.

Although I haven’t read nearly as much as she has and I’m sure I retain only a small percentage of what I read compared to her, I feel a connection to Pamela and a kinship over the love of books and reading. My Life with Bob is a real treat and a lovely gift for the reader in your life!

As Seen in Goodreads:

Imagine keeping a record of every book you’ve ever read. What would this reading trajectory say about you? With passion, humor, and insight, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shares the stories that have shaped her life.

Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years – carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand, from job to job, safely packed away and then carefully removed from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk – reliable if frayed, anonymous-looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.

Bob is Paul’s Book of Books, a journal that records every book she’s ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia, a journey in reading that reflects her inner life – her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.

But My Life with Bob isn’t really about those books. It’s about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It’s about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge to forge our own path. It’s about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It’s about how we make our own stories.


About the Author:

Pamela Paul is the editor of The New York Times Book Review and the author of Parenting, Inc., Pornified, and The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony. Prior to joining the Times, Paul was a contributor to Time magazine and The Economist, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Vogue. She and her family live in New York.

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver and Me by Bill Hayes


My Review:

I couldn’t help but fall in love with New York City as I lived it through author Bill Hayes’ eyes reading Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me.  He is a wonderful observer and he captures the essence of people through photographs and his stories.  He tells us his life journey (after he loses his beloved partner he leaves San Francisco to start fresh in NYC) and we experience his existence as he heals his soul, taking in the sights of the city and finding beauty in his connections with others.  We here about his relationship with Oliver Sacks, the well-known neurologist,  genius of a man and can feel the love they had for each other through the pages.  Although Sacks was almost 30 years older, Hayes often seemed to be his guide contributing to what made them a well matched, intriguing couple.

I’ve always been enamored with New York City and did enjoy living there for a while, but now, in addition to my renewed appreciation and love for my favorite city I feel warm feelings toward author Bill Hayes who is no doubt a kind, tender hearted, open minded man who, in his life has nurtured loves until they are gone, but he continues to see, appreciate and capture the beauty in this world. Oliver Sacks seemed like a brilliant, unique and loving man…I would have enjoyed meeting him.

As Bill Hayes writes. ” It requires a certain kind of unconditional love to love living here.  But New York repays you in time in memorable encounters, at the very least.  Just remember: Ask first, don’t grab, be fair, say please and thank you, always say thank you – even if you don’t get something back right away.  You will.”

This tender memoir was like reading a love letter to New York City – I have a list of people I know who will cherish it like I did!

As seen on Goodreads:
Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city’s incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.

And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance–“I don’t so much fear death as I do wasting life,” he tells Hayes early on–is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes’s distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.



About the Author:

The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction, Bill Hayes is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the author of several books.

A photographer as well as a writer, his photos have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Granta, New York Times, and on CBS Evening News. His portraits of his partner, the late Oliver Sacks, appear in the recent collection of Dr. Sacks’s suite of final essays Gratitude.

Hayes has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, the recipient of a Leon Levy Foundation grant, and a Resident Writer at Blue Mountain Center. He has also served as a guest lecturer at Stanford, NYU, UCSF, University of Virginia, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Purchase a copy of Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me HERE