The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: BookExpo America (BEA) Weekend!

BookExpo America or BEA is an annual event that is basically book heaven. It’s a time when publishers and industry experts come together to discuss the state of the publishing world, as well as the amazing books that are being published this year. There are panels, author signings, presentations, and best of all – advance reader copy giveaways. BEA is the best 3 days of my year. It’s exhausting but exhilarating, and I can’t wait to go every year. It’s my fashion week. This year, BEA is back in New York, and I could not be more ready.

What is the difference between BEA and BookCon?

I’ve never been to BookCon, so here are the differences from what I understand:

BEA is an industry event. Is is a chance for publishers to connect with booksellers, agents, librarians, etc. – people who buy and promote books. The intention is to show off what is being published within the next year so that they can make sales. BookCon is open to the public, and is designed more towards the reader. This is a chance to meet authors, talk about books, attend panels, and make friends. I also hear that BookCon is crowded and tends to have a younger, louder crowd.

Why does Muse Monthly go to BEA?

The first year we went mostly to network. We wanted to introduce the company to publishers and get some face time with people we’d been emailing with so that Muse Monthly could grow and thrive. But I also learned that the books I find at BEA usually set up boxes for the rest of the year, so now we go with the intention of filling out our fall/winter season.

Tips for BEA

1) Have a plan

Theoretically you could go into BEA with no plan at all and just pick up whatever ARCs you see, wander around and meet people, visit booths and talk to publishers about what is coming up for the rest of the year. But my feeling is that there are so many things going on that you’d miss something if you didn’t at least have a little bit of a plan. The BookExpo team release information about author signings and appearances that you can put on a schedule right on their website, but here’s the real trick: somewhere, some time before the convention, some entrepreneurial spirit on the internet will have miraculously created a google doc featuring all the signings, galley drops, and other special events that will be going on at BEA. How do they find this information? I have no idea. I’ve been going to BEA for three years and I still have no clue. I’m assuming they’re a wizard. It’s different every year and you have to go hunting for it, but it always happens. Keep an eye out for that, and then make yourself a little calendar so you can make sure to get in line for all the important things.

2) Bring an empty suitcase.

Here’s a photo of the dent in my shoulder from the first year. We didn’t know we could bring an empty suitcase the first time around, so I was in pain. A lot of pain. Books are heavy, y’all, and your shoulder can only take so much. Bring an empty suitcase and check it at the door, then you’ll have somewhere to dump your loot so your arm doesn’t fall off. Also, bring the biggest effing tote bag you can find. Trust me. I’ve seen people carrying stuff in their arms and it is not fun.

3) Wear comfortable shoes.

You will die. There is no place to sit, your feet will fall off.

4) Bring an extra battery for your phone.

In the Javits center there are actually plugs and sometimes one of the publishers will have a charging station, but EVERYONE needs juice and it’s so rare that you’ll actually find a space. Plus, being in New York will eat up your charge. Invest in an external battery and that way you’ll be safe.

5) If you’re a little shy, make a business card.

I know this seems weird but it’s actually a good idea for people who may have a little trouble with conversations and connecting like I do. Bring something to give people with all your information – social, email, etc – so that people can find you on the internet in case you forget to tell them. Also, there are a lot of people at BEA so it’s a good idea to have them for exchange, that way they remember you!

I am so excited to be going this year with our brand new team member, Kate! If you’ll be there, let me know so we can meet up! Happy book hunting!

Summer Recommended Reading

Summer Reading - Muse Monthly books tea reading bookworm summer

We are fast approaching my favorite season, a season made for laying outside (or inside if you’re me, because outside are where the bugs live), being lazy, and plowing through as many great new books as you can. Summertime just feels like book reading time, doesn’t it? It’s probably leftover from our school days; the excitement of finally getting to read what we want to read, rather than what’s assigned. There isn’t a better feeling than having some time and some extra daylight hours to actually get through all these books we’re so excited about. Get out your Book Beau and take them to the beach or the park and get your read on. Or, you know, just crack open a window. That’s okay too. You do you.

Here are a few we’re adding to our TBR this season:

White Fur – Jardine Libaire: When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions, downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love – May 30 from Hogarth

The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch: In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin. Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule—galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth – April 14 from Harper

 

 

 

The Leavers – Lisa Ko: One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past. – May 2 from Algonquin

 

 

Salt Houses – Hala Alyan: On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.  Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia’s brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can’t escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand—one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again. – May 2, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 

Spoonbenders – Daryl Gregory: Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis and its possible role in intelligence gathering. There he meets Maureen McKinnon, and it’s not just her piercing blue eyes that leave Teddy forever charmed, but her mind—Maureen is a genuine psychic of immense and mysterious power. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have three gifted children, and become the Amazing Telemachus Family, performing astounding feats across the country. Irene is a human lie detector. Frankie can move objects with his mind. And Buddy, the youngest, can see the future. Then one night tragedy leaves the family shattered. Decades later, the Telemachuses are not so amazing.  To make matters worse, the CIA has come knocking, looking to see if there’s any magic left in the Telemachus clan. And there is: Irene’s son Matty has just had his first out-of-body experience. But he hasn’t told anyone, even though his newfound talent might just be what his family needs to save themselves—if it doesn’t tear them apart in the process. – June 27, Knopf

 

Happy Reading!

 

The Women of Muse Monthly

I didn’t get the chance to celebrate International Women’s Day yesterday as I wanted to, so I wanted to take the time out today to write a little something. As a female business owner, it has always been important to me to work with and support other women. Muse Monthly would not be the business it is today if it weren’t for some amazing women that I was lucky to meet along the way, and I am so grateful for their help and their friendship. Here is just a (not-so)quick list of badass ladies we’ve worked with who have been absolutely essential and amazing:

Of course, we’ll start off with our badass lady authors. From the start, I always wanted to use Muse Monthly to feature not only primarily debut authors, but also marginalized voices, including women and especially women of color and LGBTQ women. We’ve been so proud to feature Claire Fuller, Carola Dibbell, Aislinn Hunter, Natasha Pulley, Claire Vaye Watkins, Susan Abulhawa, Rebecca Scherm, V.E. Schwab, Ashley Ream, Yaa Gyasi, Jessie Burton, Margaret Atwood, Janie Chang, Emily Robbins, and Jami Attenberg.

Katelyn from Penguin Random House, Lauren from Simon & Schuester, Mary and Kelsey from Macmillan, Taryn and Kimberly from HMH, Gillian from HarperCollins, and Karen from Greywolf who are always providing us with beautiful book choices and making author collaborations happen!

Karen, Cheyenne, and Camille from Cratejoy, who make sure this thing runs smoothly and that Muse Monthly gets in the hands of beautiful bookworms everywhere!

Amanda from Out of Print, Benita from BookBeau, Julia from Brew Labs, who makes our custom teas happen and Courtney from Holbrook Candle Company, who made our gorgeous candles for our one year anniversary

Sam from BadGirlGoodTea, Kelly from Mountain Witch Tea Company, Brittany from Wight Tea Company, Stephanie from Forest Witch Tea, Sharon and Sue from Angry Tea Room, Kate from Ajiri Tea, and Judith from Amiteas, who make delicious tea and have been such a joy to work with. All of these women own small businesses and most of them work completely on their own to make and package all the tea we send out each month. It’s always a huge request and we are so happy to support them and get their product into the hands of a new audience!

Our wonderful artists who keep Muse Monthly pretty: Talula Christian, Mishie Del Rosario, Rebecca Graves Prowse, Lindsay Goldner, and Brittany from Novelly Yours

Liv, Summer, Shauna, Emma, Whitney, Reagan, Jose, Caroline, Hannah, Heather, Christina Marie, Tilly, Tasha, Jane, Jenni, and all our beautiful blogger friends who help share our love of books and tea

I also want to say that while I try to keep Muse Monthly pretty gender neutral in terms of content, the majority of you Muses are women, so thank you so much for joining me along this journey. I feel so blessed to have an amazing group of subscribers and I really am thankful for each and every one of you. You’re all incredible women, and I will always work to make sure that Muse Monthly puts a smile on your face!

There is also a select group of ladies who have been the heart and soul of Muse Monthly from the beginning, even before we launched the Kickstarter, without whom I would be drowning in self-doubt and anxiety: my dearest friends – Kate, Nikki, and Kelsey, and of course, my mom and my sister.  My mother especially has been incredible from the start. She always read to me as a child and instilled in my this love of books and tea, and if it weren’t for her, none of this would have been possible.

I am so grateful to all the strong, intelligent women that have come into my life during the past two years. Thank you is simply not enough!

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” —Michelle Obama

Your Bookish Heart: Where to Donate Your Books this Holiday Season

Muse Monthly Holiday 2016 Where To Donate Your Books

 

The spirit of giving shouldn’t be limited just to December, but people are always in a more charitable mood at this time of year. And it’s a great thing, because there are so many wonderful programs that need your help.

Here at Muse Monthly we believe in the power of literature as a learning tool. Reading can help you expand your vocabulary, visit far-off lands, learn about new cultures, and stretch your brain to new ideas and concepts. But more than anything, reading helps you empathize – it helps you understand people, their struggles, their emotions, and their choices. Books can help educate, end the cycle of poverty, and change communities.

But of course, not everyone has access to books, and therefore these learning tools are out of reach. That is why we encourage giving your unwanted or used books to one of these wonderful programs that helps bring the joy of reading to the world.

 

HousingWorks Bookstore & Cafe, NYC

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe bookshop New York City Manhattan Soho Muse Monthly books bookworm

HousingWorks is a program in New York City that helps those living with HIV/AIDS get healthcare, find housing and jobs, and legal assistance to ease the hardship of living with the illness. HousingWorks has both a Thrift Shop and a Bookstore/Cafe in Manhattan which is run by volunteers and stocked by donations. 100% of the proceeds go towards their efforts helping people living with HIV/AIDS. Beyond being one of the most beautiful bookshops in the city, HousingWorks is filled with kind people, and does a world of good for the community.

Send donations to: 126 Crosby St., NYC, 10012 Attn: General Donations

 

Prison Book Programs

From Orange is the New Black

This may seem like an unusual choice, but prisons are one of the best place to send your book donations. Of course, there are restrictions, but this can really be a situation of books saving lives. Not only are you promoting education and literacy, but you’ll also be providing some much-needed escapism to those in an unfortunate situation. Of course, there are some guidelines, but this may be a good idea if you’re looking to donate textbooks, especially for legal studies, languages, or test prep.

There are several book donation programs for prisons, as prisoners typically cannot receive donations from an individual. These programs vary from state-to-state so I’d suggest doing a bit of research before sending them off, but here are just a few:

Donate
http://www.booksthroughbarsnyc.com/
http://prisonbookprogram.org/
http://www.wpbp.org/
http://lgbtbookstoprisoners.org/

 

Children’s Literacy Programs

Michelle Obama reads The Cat In The Hat

Michelle Obama reads The Cat In The Hat

You know it. I know it. We all know it. The books we read as children are the ones that truly stick with us, and reading is a formative part of our education. Who would we be if not for books?

It is so important for children to have access to books, but of course, not everyone has that luxury. Children who are homeless, living in shelters or group homes, or are living in areas without libraries are depending on your donations. This is a great opportunity to clear out old baby books, or send over a bunch of your favorites that you think another child would enjoy.

http://www.milkandbookies.org/about/ (does a variety of work to promote childhood literacy, family time, and foster a love of books)
http://www.projectnightnight.org/ (for homeless children 12 and under)
http://www.pajamaprogram.org/ (for children living in poverty, living with homelessness or in shelters, foster care, or are victims of abuse & neglect)

 

International Programs

Sometimes our hearts can extend overseas, and children across the world need books as well. Donating to programs with international reach means not only are you changing a child’s life, but also the life and the wellbeing of a community. The US has a literacy rate of 97.9%. Other countries are not so fortunate. We have to remember that we are a global community, and that every little bit helps us move forward together. If you’re looking at the bigger picture this season, here are some programs to take a look at:

https://www.roomtoread.org/ (works to provide education for young girls – nearly 800 million people are illiterate and two thirds are women and girls)

https://www.booksforafrica.org/ (provides books to school libraries, orphanages, adult literacy programs, and community centers in Africa)

http://www.intlbookproject.org/ (promotes literacy in underserved areas of the world, domestic and international)

 

Your local school or library

Schools and libraries are where it all begins. When I was younger, my mother took me to storytime at our library, a place where the children of the community could come and love books together. I remember being told I was trying to check out too many books at school, I remember having girl scout meetings in the library, I remember checking out books on Egypt and the Amazon and Cryptography and Nellie Bly and so many other subjects.

If you’re a reader, I bet you have memories like this too.

Giving to your local library or school ensures that your love for reading goes right back into your community. Schools and libraries are the front lines for education, literacy, imagination, and growth. Give that gift to another budding bookworm, and change a life forever.

 

I always find it hard to take books off my bookshelves, but it’s easier knowing that my books will be going somewhere they are truly appreciated. Please consider donating to any of these wonderful programs this year, and spread the joy of reading.

Binge Life: 10 TV Shows We Love To Marathon

Muse Monthly Doctor Who Stranger Things Parks and Recreation Broadchurch Jessica Jones Buffy the Vampire Slayer Chef's Table Sense8 Narcos Long Way Round

I love good TV just as much as I love good books – it’s all about the telling of a great story. And I don’t think I’m alone in loving shows that are best viewed all at once instead of on a week-to-week basis, aka the Binge Watch. Here are some TV shows we love to watch over and over again!

Doctor Who

I am a huge Whovian – as evidenced by the very prominent Bad Wolf tattoo on my clavicle. It’s the best show in the world. It’s got everything you want – adventure, action, aliens, romance, snarky wit, social commentary, David Tennant, history, Shakespeare, and so much more. It’s the longest running show for a reason. Best show of all time. Anyone who says differently can fight me.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things is a new release on Netflix and it is excellent. The story centers around the disappearance of a young boy in a small town and the weird events that take place afterwards. Superbly acted on the part of Winona Ryder and the young actors in the show, it’s good and weird and creepy and totally engaging. Once you start watching, you won’t want to turn it off. But also, keep the lights on.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Rec is my favorite show. Parks and Rec is the show that I watch when I have an anxiety attack. It’s familiar and comforting and funny without ever making jokes at someone’s expense. Parks and Rec is about friendship, hard work, and a group of weirdos just doing the best they can. This is a show that is nothing but pure joy from start to finish.

Broadchurch

I’m not usually one for detective stories, if I’m honest. It’s hard to find police procedural shows that are really well written and intriguing, that don’t have a predictable ending. Broadchurch is not only a masterclass in emotional range from David Tennant and Olivia Colman, but a police drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you love it, also check out Happy Valley on Netflix.

The Marvel Shows: Jessica Jones & Daredevil


So I eat up everything Marvel spits out, but these Netflix-exclusive shows have just been mind blowing. The writers have done a really great job of going in depth with well-known characters, and I always love shows that are gritty and emotional and have expertly choreographed fight scenes. I want to especially mention Jessica Jones and it’s perfect depiction of an abusive relationship. And, you know, more David Tennant. I can’t wait for Luke Cage and Iron Fist, and then the Defenders!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The best female led-show ever. Buffy defines the “strong female” trope. Buffy is funny and emotional and action-packed and smart. What isn’t perfect about Buffy? Nothing. That’s what. Nothing. Buffy is perfect. Fight me.

Chef’s Table

Besides being pure food porn, Chef’s table is a beautiful exploration of the creative process. The show features an in-depth profile of master chefs all over the world, delving into how their lives are woven into their craft. It’s beautifully filmed and absolutely engaging from start to finish.

Sense8

Sense8 is another Netflix exclusive, like Stranger Things, that kind of came out of left field. I was told by a friend to watch it and was immediately hooked. It’s such a wonderfully diverse and inclusive show, and a story about beautiful souls helping each other and falling in love and banding together to fight the bad guys. What really makes this show is the cast’s chemistry. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Narcos

I really love stories about criminals. I love when a well told show or novel makes you think about the world from a different perspective, especially if said perspective is that of the ‘bad guy’. The story of Pablo Esobar is really fascinating, and this show is so tense and thrilling that I couldn’t look away, even when the violence got out of control. Plus, there’s Pedro Pascal and Boyd Holbrook. Mmmmhmmm.

Long Way Round / Long Way Down

The concept: Ewan MacGregor and his friend Charley Boorman drive on motorcycles around the world. The reality: Ewan MacGregor and his friend Charley spend 9 episodes being total goofballs while taking their motorbikes from London to New York – as the title so aptly puts it – the long way ’round, through Siberia. And then they do it again and travel from London to Cape Town, South Africa. Both series are hilarious and heart-felt, and have gorgeous views of their travels. It’s a really good watch, and you’ll totally fall in love with Ewan and Charley’s friendship.

What shows do you love to marathon? What Netflix gems do you recommend to all your friends?

Forever Recommend: Books to Live and Die by

Books Muse Monthly Book Recommendations Harry Potter JK Rowling A Clockwork Orange  Anthony Burgess The Secret History Donna Tartt One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez Everything is Illuminated Jonathan Safran Foer Stardust Neil Gaiman

 

Every bookworm has suffered the same question: “What’s your favorite book?”

What, like, of all time? You want me to pick one? Impossible.

For people who really love books, giving one single favorite is akin to climbing Everest. It’s easier to say, give a favorite one from each category, or favorite from the last year or so. We need a bit of a narrower category to really give a good answer. But give a favorite in the whole history of literature, out of everything we’ve ever read in our entire lives? Yeah, no. Can’t do it.

And being that I work with books, I get asked for favorites and recommendations quite a bit. People come to me when they need something new to read all the time….alright, alright, fine. Sometimes I give them without being asked. You know you do it too! I can’t help it, I love talking about great books.

So I’ve put together a list of my Forever Recommendations – books that I will tell everyone to read no matter what, books that changed my life and I think will enrich yours, books that occupy a special place in my heart.

the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Because honestly, if you haven’t read Harry by now, what have you been doing with your life?

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

This one is definitely not for everyone. You might be aware of the famous 1971 film adaptation and it’s iconic outfits, and if so, you’re probably aware that it’s an incredibly violent story. It very much centers around the nature of violence and human depravity, so it can be a very difficult read at times. That being said, I’m a sucker for great use of language, and Burgess did something revolutionary with A Clockwork Orange. The story is told in a mixture of cocky English, Russian, Shakesperian English, and slang to form a dialect unique to this story alone (well, this story and maybe Russell Brand). To me, the inventiveness of the narrative is what makes A Clockwork Orange stand out. If you’re okay with a little blood, this one is a must read.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History is one of those ones I almost don’t want to share. It’s like when you love a band and then they go mainstream, and you get really possessive and spiteful of ‘new fans’. And I am a jealous person by nature so I want The Secret History to be mine, but that’s not really how books work. So, read it. It gave me goosebumps and heart palpitations and the proverbial feels. Just fuck me up, Donna Tartt. Fuck. Me. Up.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude is gripping from the first sentence. It’s a book that will not only make you think, but will make your heart race and your soul ache. Marquez is a master of language and story, and if you’re someone who likes things a little bit weird and mystical and wild, this is definitely something to pick up. One Hundred Years of Solitude is also my first recommendation for anyone who likes fantasy and wants to get into something a little more adult, or who wants to try reading a book in translation for the first time. It’s an epic story, and one that I will champion until the day I die.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

So I’ve talked a bit before about how if a writer is really good, I fall in love a little bit. Well, Jonathan Safran Foer is the love of my damn life. I love him, I love him, I love everything he does, I am absolutely mad for him. I will read everything he produces forever and ever. I have stopped strangers on the train because I saw they were reading his book.  Really, read everything by JSF, but I recommend this one first because it was my first one, and because it made me cry in my university library in front of a whole load of people. So, there’s that.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Neil is another great love of mine, a fantastic and epic love that has taken me to so many new worlds and new adventures. Neil is a perfect human being in everything he does, and has produced such a wonderful body of work that it’s hard to pick just one favorite. Again, Stardust was my first, and as a child of fairy tales, it’s my go-to Gaiman. It’s a beautiful story about love and destiny and magic, and it absolutely cannot be beat when it comes to adult fairy tales. Read everything by Neil Gaiman, but if you need a starting place, this one won’t let you down.

Of course, I have many more favorites, including ones I’ll never admit to. My bookshelves are overflowing with books I have loved and given myself to, so these are just a short selection. But there is something about each of these that touched me, that infected me, that became part of me. And I’ll love them until the very end.

What are some of your forever recommendations? Share the book love!

#BOOKSTOUR: Tour Manhattan’s Independent Bookstores!

A good bookstore is a sanctuary – it’s the smell of paper, crowds around tables of bestsellers and staff recommendations, the feeling of being surrounded by stories and like-minded bookworms. There’s just something so special about a tiny spot (or a big one!), where the staff knows their stuff and the walls are lined with beautiful books, and maybe you find a quiet corner or a comfy chair to tuck in to and curl up with a new story. There’s nothing like a good bookstore, and certainly nothing like going home with a bag full of new things to read.

New York City – and Manhattan especially – is delightfully filled with bookstores, and considering how hard it is for indie bookstores to stay open against the corporate competition these days, Manhattan has done surprisingly well at keeping the culture thriving. I set out with Phoebe Lett of the New York Times and Olivia from RainyDaysCoffeeandBooks to tour the best of Manhattans indie bookshops, all the way from the upper east side to Chelsea on the west side.

Eight stops. One Day. Here we go!

Rizzoli, 1133 Broadway
Rizzoli Bookstore Mahattan Independant boosktore Muse Monthly books tea DSC01918

Our first stop was Rizzoli on the East side. Rizzoli was quiet at 10am, and so beautiful that black and white floor spoke to my minimalist heart, and the store was just so elegant all around. It has a great selection of fiction and non, but I think the strength here was the Art and Architecture sections. There were so many beautiful books to look at! Plus, the staff was so sweet and helpful. This is a great stop for your lunch break!

Books of Wonder, 18 W 18th st
Books of Wonder bookstore bookshop New York City Manhattan Independent Muse Monthly

Books of Wonder bookstore bookshop New York City Manhattan Independent Muse Monthly

Books of Wonder is a specialty children’s bookstore and a hotspot for the YA crowd – with author signings and readings for children of all ages (there was a super cute storytime for the youngins going on when we were there), Books of Wonder is definitely a place to hang out for a long time. While the selection is extensive, what I love most about Books of Wonder is the featured vintage and first editions along the back wall. I love old books and Books of Wonder has a fantastic selection of classics – everything from the Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter. It’s truly breathtaking.

The Strand, 828 Broadway

The Strand Independent Bookstore New York City Manhattan Union Square Muse Monthly books bookstore bookshop bookworm DSC01926

The Strand is Home. The Strand is the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see. The Strand is three floors of pure joy. Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand has literally everything you could ever possibly want and more  – including rare, vintage, and first editions, the Strand is just….heaven. Just heaven. It doesn’t get better. I could just live and die here.

Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe, 126 Crosby St

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe bookshop New York City Manhattan Soho Muse Monthly books bookwormHousing Works Bookstore Cafe bookshop New York City Manhattan Soho Muse Monthly books bookworm
(featuring Phoebe’s come-hither look)
Housing Works is another one of my personal favorites – it’s a beautiful bookshop specializing in (100% donated) secondhand books that doubles as a charity – along with the thrift shop next door, 100% of Housing Works profits go towards helping those living with HIV/AIDS and homelessness in New York City. Housing Works works to provide Heath services, job training, and housing resources for those who need it, and work tirelessly to advocate for these people. The bookstore & cafe hosts all kinds of events – readings, musical performances, parties, and even Literary Speed Dating for Queer Ladies – all to help raise funds for this wonderful cause.

McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St

McNally Jackson bookstore bookshop New York City Manhattan Soho Muse Monthly books bookworm McNally Jackson bookstore bookshop New York City Manhattan Soho Muse Monthly books bookworm
Right around the corner from HousingWorks is McNally Jackson – a two floor bookstore with a beautiful cafe attached – seriously, that ceiling. There are books hanging from the ceiling and lining the walls. It’s so beautiful. McNally Jackson has become a recent favorite for one reason – not only do they have a large fiction section, but it’s divided up into regions, so you can find American fiction alongside African, Asian, Indian, Australian, and more. To someone who loves books in translation, it’s such an amazing find. It’s a great spot to find something new! Pick up something just because it looks cool, grab yourself a coffee and a muffin, and dive in.

Bookbook, 266 Bleecker st

Bookbook bookstore bookshop New York City Manhattan Greenwhich Village Muse Monthly books bookworm Bookbook bookstore bookshop New York City Manhattan Greenwhich Village Muse Monthly books bookworm

Bookbook is (as you might be able to tell from the name) a super cutie-pie bookstore in Greenwich Village. It’s tiny and full of best sellers and classics – plus they have a sale table out in front, which is always a good thing to have. It’s such a small space but there’s lots to look at, and we had a lovely conversation about poetry with some fellow shop goers, and then Phoebe read Kipling to us from the floor. Beautiful.

Three Lives & Co, 154 West 10th Street

Three Lives and Company bookstore bookshop Manhattan New York City Independent bookstore Muse Monthly books bookworm Three Lives and Company bookstore bookshop Manhattan New York City Independent bookstore Muse Monthly books bookworm

Okay so Three Lives & Co is honestly gorgeous. It’s pretty much a closet, but it’s one of those bookstores you walk in to and it smells like books and it looks like your dream library, and so you can’t help but fall in love a little bit. It’s got a great selection of new releases and travel books, but what really caught my attention was the lack of a YA/Children’s section. Three Lives definitely strikes me as a shop for someone who might be a bit of a lit snob – you know, the tweed jacket with elbow patches type. Aka, me. Yeah, I’m that kind of nerd.

192 Books, 192 Tenth Ave

192 Books bookstore bookshop Independent bookstore New York City Manhattan Muse Monthly books bookworm 192 Books bookstore bookshop Independent bookstore New York City Manhattan Muse Monthly books bookworm

We arrived at 192 books just as the beautiful afternoon sun was starting to stream through those big windows, flooding the shop with light. It was an enchanting effect, and we took the opportunity for lots of photos. 192 Books is small, but the place is literally stacked floor-to-ceiling with awesome things to read. It’s the type of place you could spend some time digging through stacks and piles to find something different and exciting. The staff were delightful and all too happy to chat about their favorites. I definitely recommend coming here towards the end of the day, and then finding a coffee shop nearby with outdoor seating to tuck in with your new find.

It was an exhausting day, but one I would gladly do again – I’m such a bookstore junkie that this tour was a dream come true for me. I’ve found several new favorite stops, and I’m already dreaming about going back for a visit to spend some more time among the stacks.

NYC Tea Tour! Muse Monthly & Bad Girl Good Tea Explore Manhattan’s Tea Houses

It’s no secret that I love tea, and I love Manhattan. I really do. But the thing about New York (and probably every city) is that it’s super easy to find coffee, but not so easy to find tea that isn’t Starbucks. Which is ridiculous, because for a city that prides itself on having an amazing, authentic food scene, you’d think there would be more places for tea. And so, the Muse Monthly Tea Tour was born – a quest to visit Manhattan’s best tea houses and shops and find some amazing places to stop for both cold and iced tea all over the island.

I was joined by Sam from Bad Girl Good Tea, an incredible small tea company out of Manhattan. I couldn’t imagine a better tour partner and we had a blast. It was exhausting, but super fun and we had a lot of laughs along the way.

Seven stops. One Day. Here we go!

Alice’s Tea Cup, 156 E 64th

Alice's Tea Cup: NYC Manhattan Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea

Alice's Tea Cup: NYC Manhattan Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea Alice's Tea Cup: NYC Manhattan Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea
Our first stop was Alice’s Tea Cup, which I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. There are three locations in Manhattan so there’s plenty of Alice themed goodness to go around. Alice’s is popular with moms and their daughters – Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise, for example, and is a great stop for brunch. The interior is cute and comfy – not completely Alice themed, but there was Alice art on the walls and their signature tea blends are Alice/fairy tale themed. Sam and I both had brunch and tea, which comes in a personal pot (just the way I like it). Sam enjoyed the Alice’s Blend and I had Sparrow’s Soul. Both delicious (but I thought hers was better). 

Radiance Tea House & Books, 208 E 50th
Radiance Tea House & Books: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea IMG_1172
Our second uptown stop was Radiance Tea House and Books. I will freely admit that one of my shortcomings as a tea drinker is more traditional, pure teas. I don’t know as much about traditional teas as I would like, and so I purposely scheduled in a few teahouses that catered to a more Japanese tea style. Radiance was the first of these, and it did not disappoint. Radiance is definitely more upscale – it’s in a part of town that has a lot of businesses and so it seemed like a nice spot for lunch, but it was also very quiet, which meant our giggling and texting felt a little out of place. However, our server was very kind and willing to suggest teas we might enjoy, and she even helped us style the photo to the right. I had a lovely oolong and Sam had a sweet green tea, both of which were lovely. Radiance is a beautiful spot to visit and stay for a while, especially if you’re a lover of traditional teas.

 

Thirstea, 280 E 10th St
Thirstea: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea Thirstea: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea
Our third stop was Thirstea, the first of our East Village stops. There are a few cute little tea shops within a few blocks, so we got a nice little tour of the neighborhood. By the time we got here, it was nice and sunny out, which made it a perfect day for sitting out on the bench and enjoying our tea. We had a lovely chat with one of the owners about being a small business and thriving in a digital world vs having a brick-and-mortar location, about tea and the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life. We also did our first periscope here (which Sam was dreading, but I made her do anyway) – the sound is terrible but you can watch it here on Facebook
Thirstea isn’t exactly a place to sit down for tea like the other two were. It’s a little, brightly colored hole-in-the-wall with a few barstools inside, but not a lot of space. They have a wide selection of teas and a few original blends, as well as bubble teas and smoothies. But this was one of my favorite spots on our tour – not only was the shop itself adorable, but the man we talked to was so nice, and that’s what really made it for me. It’s one of those perfect New York places with good people and good atmosphere. It’s definitely a perfect place to visit on a warm summer day. 

Physical Graffitea, 96 St Mark’s Place
Physical Graffitea: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea
So I will admit that the East Village is not my neighborhood – I’m a SoHo girl, but I love the Village and it’s iconic culture. Physical Graffitea is a definite part of that. The location was first a vintage clothing store and is now a tea shop under the same management, and it definitely has that local New York charm. Stepping into Physical Graffitea is like stepping into the 1970s. It’s definitely the place you’d meet that cute hipster boy with his mustache and thick-rimmed glasses, or the singer-songwriter girl who plays acoustic guitar and dresses like Stevie Nicks. They had a huge selection of teas and plenty of friendly faces. At this point, we’d had too much tea so we didn’t drink anything, but I could definitely see myself bringing a book here and holing up for an afternoon. As a matter of fact, I might just do that. 

Tea Drunk, 123 E 7th St
Tea Drunk: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea
Tea Drunk was the second of my traditional tea spots. Tea Drunk is a beautiful, serene spot that offers tea classes as well as these pre-curated tea tasting menus for those (like us) who are new to the world of traditional teas. We had the green tea tasting  which featured three beautiful green teas that ranged from sweet and light to full and flavorful. It was a beautiful ceremony guided by a very knowledgeable tea master. We also got to hang with little tea friends – they’re made from   Yixing clay leftover from the creation of clay teapots and they “drink” the extra tea, meaning you pour your leftover tea over them and they absorb the water.  I had a lot of fun with my little elephant!  Yixing clay tea elephant: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea

Sanctuary T, 337 W Broadway
SanctuaryT: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea SanctuaryT: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea
Now, SantuaryT is definitely more my speed. It’s tucked on a nice corner in Soho and is a very swanky, modern tea house/bar/restaurant complete with gorgeous Australian servers and parmesan truffle friends. By the time we arrived here, it was sunset on a beautiful warm day. We took a table by the open storefront to people watch and had an incredible, relaxing time. I had a hot Soho chai which was delicious, and Sam had an iced matcha. This was maybe my favorite stop along the way. That might have had a little to do with how hot our server was. Tea and cute boys and a beautiful New York sunset – what more do you need?

 

Tea and Sympathy, 108 Greenwich Ave
Tea and Sympathy: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea Tea and Sympathy: Manhattan NYC Tea Tour with Muse Monthly and Bad Girl Good Tea
Tea and Sympathy is hands down one of my favorite places in New York. My sister discovered this spot years ago and we’ve been coming here pretty frequently ever since. It sings to my little anglophile heart – owned by a British family, it’s the cutest little hole in the wall, decorated like your English grandma’s kitchen with food to match. Here you can get an incredible selection of teas in mismatched teaware as well as a full English breakfast or Sunday roast. The same family owns A Salt & Battery, the fish & chips shop next door, and a little shop inbetween that sells British food and gifts. It’s a beautiful little haven. 
By the time we got here, it was late at night and we were both exhausted, so of course we finished strong with some vanilla tea and cake. Because, duh. 

The Tea Tour, in my opinion, was a complete success. Not only did we have some amazing new teas and find some fantastic spots, but I made a new friend and had some really special conversation. And that’s what it’s all about, right? Good friends and good tea. Nothing better.

 

Check out our friends Bad Girl Good Tea!

Owning It: On Anxiety & Entrepreneurship

Owning It: On Anixety & Entrepreneurship - Muse Monthly Blog, anxiety, business owner, girlboss, mental illness

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while.

But it’s difficult to write about my anxiety when it colors every aspect of my life. It becomes very difficult to separate myself from it, it’s difficult to tell what is my personality and what is a symptom of anxiety. I’m not sure who I would be without it.

I’m going to try to start from the beginning.

Looking back, there are a lot of things that happened to me that were anxiety related that I didn’t have a name for at the time. I have vivid memories of being physically sick any time we had to go somewhere new, or anywhere I didn’t know anybody. I have a petrifying fear of being lost and left on my own. I transferred schools in high school and spent half my first day at the new school throwing up and crying in the bathroom (I promptly switched back to where I knew people). It’s just part of my life.

College was a low-point for me. What is typically a very exciting period in a person’s life – moving away from mom and dad, meeting new people, generally transitioning into ‘adulthood’ was actually a tragic four years for me. And it’s hard for me to explain because I still don’t know how or why it happened, but it was like my anxiety switch went from low to full blast all in one moment. I moved into a dorm room with my friend from high school thinking that I would feel safer. But something snapped. I went from someone who considered herself ‘outgoing’ to someone who refused to leave her room, someone who went home every weekend and cried on the way back, someone who stopped eating. I dressed myself up in high heels in the hopes that someone would notice me and start a conversation so that I wouldn’t have to. I lost fifteen pounds during the course of that first semester and made zero new friends. Instead, I failed all of my classes and was left feeling lost and broken. I was a shadow of myself, both physically and mentally. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

When I transferred back to a school closer to home, I knew what I needed to get back to myself – books. I cried and cried, I felt like a failure, but I knew that I needed a change. I sought comfort in literature and writing, and decided that instead of making friends or going out or trying to find a boyfriend, I would focus on writing and curling up with books in the library. I retreated into myself, because I did not know how to break out of the shell that had magically formed around me.

And I was okay for a while. I started to learn more about my anxiety and recognize what was part of that and what was something I could change. I lived my life. I found a job, I found another job, and then I weaseled my way into a job that I thought was going to be The Dream.

Turns out, not.

What was supposed to be my Dream Job ended up being the most stressful and terrible four months of my life. I went from feeling secure to feeling insecure, paranoid, and overwhelmed. I thought everyone hated me, I was sure I was going to get fired every day, and I never felt on top of things. In addition, I started to have physical symptoms as well – not only was it constant knots in my shoulders, but my legs would tense up to the point of cramping, until finally I started to feel like they would buckle underneath me at any moment. I was constantly feeling like I was going to throw up, and then I started having panic attacks – real panic attacks, crying, unable to breathe, the whole nine yards – while I was sitting at my desk.

All I wanted to do was curl up with my book and have the largest cup of tea possible.

And it was then that I knew I had to leave, and I started Muse Monthly shortly after.

But owning and operating a business is absolutely not a stress-free environment. It is not without weeks of constant heart palpitations, waking up in the middle of the night in a panic (stress dreams are super fun, you know), crying over finances, loosing track of things on my to-do list, and constantly feeling overwhelmed. I feel like I’m in haze all the time, with more and more things piling on top of my head, and the more it is, the more I just want to sleep through it. I feel shitty all the time, and I want it out, I want it gone, I want to take this dark and twisty storm inside my head and put it in a box and burn it. I don’t want to feel my heart doing a double-time inside my chest and worry I’m having a heart attack and I’m going to die at 27. And part of my brain will say, “you’re fine, it’s just anxiety”. And Anxiety will answer, “but what if it isn’t?”. And then Anxiety will laugh.

But the difference is, it doesn’t own me anymore. I used to feel so crushed under the weight of it, so completely like I was falling apart and I’d never feel stable again. For the first time in my life, I can use my anxiety as fuel to drive my business. I use this panicky, “I’m going to fail” energy and channel it into something useful for once. Because failure isn’t an option anymore, so instead of crying and vomiting about everything, I have to fucking do something about it. Which is not always as easy as it sounds. It’s actually kind of awful sometimes, and sometimes (read: like, yesterday), I think about shutting this bitch down and crawling into bed and never coming out. But at the same time, I love this work. I love Muse Monthly, and I know I’d never be happy at a regular job. I’m never bored, which is better than I ever could have asked for.

Of course, I also have an incredible support network – I have amazing friends, a beautiful and creative boyfriend, and a great group of other female entrepreneurs who are going through the same shit that I’m going through. I’ve accepted anxiety as part of my life, and I’m aware enough now to know what is an anxiety symptom and what is just me being stupid.

It isn’t easy, doing this and having this full-body, 24/7 mental illness bullshit. I wish I felt normal, but at the same time, I’m kind of glad I don’t. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my anxiety. I’m owning it like I own my business.

And I’m drinking a lot of tea, and getting lost in a lot of books. I’m surviving.

“I wish I had time to read!”

city of theives
You have no idea how often I hear “I wish I had time to read!” or “I never have time to read for pleasure anymore!”

Almost every time I tell people what I do, I hear something similar. And I always felt the same way, for a very long time I lamented not having time to read. I walked past my bookshelves full of unread novels and said to myself, ‘I really need to read that’ or ‘that’s been sitting on my shelf for ages, I should get around to it’. But it’s hard, when you’re working or going to school or busy with other things, to make time for your books.

You miss them, don’t you? They miss you too.

See, books are made to be read. They’re made to be enjoyed by you, to be taken in by you, to soak into your skin and become a part of your memory and your intellect. They need you just as much as you need them.

So, you need to give them some of your time.

It’s like a friendship – you need to text them just as much as they text you. Take time for your books, and they’ll give you all they have in return.

I like to read on the train during my commute. I get about an hour to myself, plug in my headphones, and get lost in my book.

I know a lot of people who take their lunch hour to read, who read on the subway, or for an hour before they go to bed. If you’re a student, you could take some time between classes or as a reward once you’ve finished your homework.

But it’s important to take time to yourself. It’s important to carve out an hour or two to relax and take time out from your daily life. You’ll re-energize yourself, exercise your brain, and if you’re lucky, get lost in a good story among the way!

Make time to read! You’ll be glad you did.