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NYC Life: August 2020

I can’t believe it’s the last month of summer already! September and October are some of my favourite months in New York City, so I don’t mind – September is a milder version of summer with lovely long days, with less humidity, and in October the autumn foliage is beyond beautiful.

It’s been a weird month – which makes sense in such a weird year. Time is slipping by, and the weeks and months blur together without being punctuated by the Weekend trips I’d hoped to take around the US. However, I did get our first trip of the year in – a weekend in Hudson, the main town in the Hudson Valley. It was so good to get away!

A Long Weekend in Hudson

I’m so glad we made our first overnight trip of the year finally happen! I love the Hudson Valley, and was so excited to finally visit Hudson, the region’s main centre. It’s a gorgeous, tiny town with beautiful architecture and a deliciously slow pace. We stayed at the most beautiful B&B with the most charming host, Carolyn, and had a really relaxing weekend. I wish I could bottle this weekend and take a swig in the middle of a stressful week in the city.

Upper West Side

I love the Upper West Side, and if I was going to live in New York City for the rest of my life, I’d move to this neighborhood (or Cobble Hill in Brooklyn). I don’t get up there enough, and actually hadn’t been to the neighborhood since March! I’ve only just started catching the subway again, so David and I went uptown on the weekend to meet some friends for outdoor drinks, at a cute bar called Tiki Chick. As soon as we emerged from the subway station, we were hit with the “wide” open skies of uptown Manhattan – the streets are wider, but the buildings mostly aren’t as tall as they are in Midtown, so it feels so much more open and airy. We live downtown, with smaller buildings but also smaller streets,

After drinks, David & I hopped on the subway again to zip up to the 103rd street stop at Central Park. I wanted to check out the far north end of the park, like North Woods and The Ravine, which are typically a little less crowded than the rest of the park. I can’t believe I’d never been much farther north than the resevoir before! It was a nice spot, a lot less manicured than the lower parts of the park. I wanted to get to the Conservatory Gardens, which is on the edge of the Upper East Side, but we ran out of time.

I do mean to visit the Upper West Side more, but the main attractions are the Natural History Museum and the Lincoln Center, which are both closed. There’s not a lot of great dining up there, so it’s easy to go months without visiting, which is a shame, because it is one of the loveliest neighbourhoods! There are so many great townhouses, some of my favourites can be found in the 80s off Amsterdam Avenue.

Restaurants & Bars

Outdoor dining is in full swing in New York City, but most of the time this means dining at a pop-up seating area on the street. It was such a nice change to have dinner in the gorgeous courtyard of Locanda Verde, a restaurant inside Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca.

We also went to the opening night of a new restaurant in Nolita, called Kimika. The service was so sweet and genuine, which is impressive considering they were no doubt very flustered on their first night in the middle of a pandemic, and the Japanese-Italian menu from Chef Christina Lau was surprising and delicious without feeling gimmicky.


Celestial Bodies by Jokhi Alharthi – I bought this Book months ago and have been so excited to read it – it’s the first novel by an Omani woman to be translated into English, and won the Man Booker International Prize in 2019. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get “into” it, and neither could anyone else in my book club. There were beautiful passages, but the flow of the novel didn’t work for me – perhaps it was stretching me a little bit more than I was up for, in the midst of the pandemic.

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris – Russ Harris is an Australian psychologist who practices the ACT methodology, which is what this book is about. The practice, for managing anxiety and stress, makes a lot of sense, but I didn’t enjoy the book too much – my boyfriend really did though, so it depends on how you like your non fiction!

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – I’ve had this on my shelf for years, and had put it down a few times in the past after getting stuck in what I thought was a long and boring introduction. I still think the introduction is boring, but it’s not all that long, and with only a tiny bit of persistence I was through, and into the book. No one in the book is particularly likable, which is one of the main complaints from readers, but I’ve never needed my characters to be likable for me to enjoy a book.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub – I so wanted to enjoy this book, and for the first half I did. It was the ending that annoyed me, everything wrapped up a little too easily. A beach read, if only I was at the beach.

I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite – I first heard of Candice’s memoir when she was interviewed on my favourite podcast, The High Low. Candice is fiercely intelligent, witty and has an infectious sense of humor, so I couldn’t wait to read her first book, about being a Black British mother. She wrote the book because she found that she never saw herself, as a Black British mother, represented in the media. Her book is intelligent, courageous, fearlessly honest, heartbreaking and at times horrifying, but also manages to be warm, compassionate and optimistic. It’s such an important read, and I’m so grateful to be able to read her words.

These Truths by Jill Lepore – I’ve been reading this since maybe January or February, or even last year! Jill Lepore is a Professor of American History at Harvard and a staff writer at the New Yorker, which are the kind of intimidatingly impressive credentials you need to tackle a history of the United States. As a non-American, I found this both really helpful in understanding America, but also sometimes got a bit overwhelmed by the level of detail – I care less about all of the detail of the history of the US, because it’s not my country. I’m glad I read it though, I definitely had lots of aha moments about why America is the way it is now.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie This is the first of Agatha Christie’s iconic Hercules Poirot mysteries, which I devoured on a weekend away in the Hudson Valley. It’s a “cosy mystery”, which suits me to a tee, since I can’t handle gore or too much creepiness.

A Passage to India by EM Forster From the same author as Howard’s End, which I read earlier this year, A Passage to India examines the British colonial rule in India and the resulting culture clash through multiple perspectives. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second, and found the ending a little frustrating, but perhaps this is because I’m reading it decades after British colonial rule has ended, and the author’s earnest message about the injustices of the British in India is commonly accepted, whereas I imagine at the time it might have been a new and shocking idea.

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NYC Life: August 2020


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