Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Interesting Recent Reads

Regular visitors to our site may recall that I keep a list of books read each year and put little stars next to the ones I like best. While it’s not yet time for my biannual sparkly list, here are mini-reviews of some of the most interesting books I’ve read lately.


heads in beds
Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

A memoir of a young man’s employment in the hotel industry in various departments from parking valet to manager. It’s full of anecdotes about dealing with the public, from CEO’s to tourist and celebrities. The excessive swearing and slang make him seem younger than he really is, but also gives a raw, immediate feeling to the book. His behind the scenes accounts make us see the humanity behind all those faceless workers and shows how difficult and downright icky some of their duties are. The author worked in hotels in New Orleans and New York City and I found the contrasts between the places intriguing. Woven through the book are some practical points to making your hotel stay better. The most important one is to tip everyone(“the crinkly handshake”) and you’ll get preferential treatment.

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012 256 pp. ISBN-13 978-0-38553563-2 available in traditional and ebook formats


skeptical romancer
The Skeptical Romancer by W. Somerset Maugham

This is a travel book unlike most travel books. It’s a compilation of Maugham’s various travel essays group together by place, but they are verbal sketches, many of them only a page or two long, vignettes that capture a moment, a sight, an inconsequential event.He is far more interested in the humans inhabiting the places than anything else, which is very different than how I look at things. Some of the locations he visited are China, Spain, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, Russia and India. While there are some of the mores and prejudices of his time, it was less than expected. You can see how how his writing improved over time and there are some lyrical passages that are quite gem-like. A introduction by Pico Iyer gives a nice overview of the author as traveler and how it fits into his other writings.

Vintage International 2009 196 pp. ISBN 978-0-307-47318-9



Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

No, not that kind of Bond girl! In this case, it means financial bonds and those who sell them, which is what Alex Garrett does in this novel. Impressed by a visit to her father’s office as a child, she decides to follow in his footsteps and make a career on Wall Street. Though she knows that it’s a tough path for women, she has no idea that she will be working at what is essentially a high stakes frat house, where juvenile pranks fill time between spending and trading unimaginable sums of money. There are also nasty little power trips over trivial things. But through it all, likable Alex stays positive and is determined to persevere. The author worked in the financial field herself and makes that world understandable and realistic, even to someone like me who has such trouble with math. Set just before the meltdown in 2008, it’s easy to see how it all went wrong in this insular and influential environment.
William Morrow 2012 293 pp. ISBN 978-0-06-206589-6 available in traditional and ebook formats

5 comments on “Interesting Recent Reads

  1. Kate
    April 8, 2013

    I heard a great interview with Jacob Tonsky about his book, and really wanted to read it, and forgot. thanks for reminding me!

  2. kirstyjane
    April 8, 2013

    These all sound great in their distinct ways. Thank you Jackie!

  3. Hilary
    April 8, 2013

    Thanks for an interesting and contrasting group. I’m delighted to be reminded how long it is since I read any Somerset Maugham, and this book sounds like a great place to begin again.

  4. rosyb
    April 13, 2013

    I’m attracted to all of these! This is impossible – as I’ve nearly zero reading time at the moment. I do like the format of this piece. It feels like a kind of buffet of reviews. Or tapas…:) I know it’s a lot to ask for more of these as there is so much time for one post but…

  5. Pingback: Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky | A Good Stopping Point

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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