A few years ago I checked myself into a hotel with a book. It was 2006, and I was on my way back from my first year teaching at Amherst College and headed to a Christmas celebration with my family. I misjudged the timing of my trains and planes and instead of making an uncomfortable connection, I decided to get an inexpensive hotel room in Boston. When I arrived, my plan was that I would just go into the hotel and read, alone.
I’d read Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, if you’re wondering. When she checked into the hotel with a book I felt only an intense wish to do the same. Here I was finally, making a deep pause in between what I’d been doing all semester and what I was about to do. The hotel I chose was the Hotel 140, which felt like a secret hotel, located on several floors upstairs inside 140 Clarendon Streeet—in the lobby it had the appearance of a normal office building. I set my bags down, opened the window shades. It was almost sunset, late afternoon. My grades were in. I pulled the book out, Chris Adrian’s The Children’s Hospital, opened it and began.
I read through the night into the next morning, taking myself out to a dinner. I recently found my menu from that night, at Petit Robert Bistro, nearby, which I wrote down in a diary as it was a perfect meal.
Duck confit with grilled sausage
Glass of Vouvray
Glass of Bordeaux Superieure
Glass of Cognac, Pierre Ferrand, Selection des Anges
In a new essay up over at The Morning News, I talk about some of my reading habits and ways I tried to address a decline in my pleasure reading, or, as I like to put it, how the internet remapped my brain, and an e-book re-remapped it—and brought me back to books in general.