Every once in a while, when I’m reading something wholly unrelated to work, I come across the most interesting insights into property ownership.
This week I’ve been wading through the terrifying, foul-smelling world of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. The book is a muckraking (and I mean that in the best sense of the word) look at the meatpacking industry of Chicago at the turn of the 20th Century. Not even a third of the way into the book, I find the immigrant family I’ve been following through the harrowing process of settling in Chicago’s Packingtown neighborhood are screwing up the guts to buy a home. They’ve only been in America for something like a week, they can’t speak English, and they’re already counting up the downpayment. The process is fascinating; I recommend reading the whole thing (you can access it for free online at the Gutenberg Project; the whole home-buying storyline begins in chapter four). But I wanted to share with you a portion that occurs after they buy the place and begin “feathering their nest” in chapter five. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve bolded the parts I loved:
They had bought their home. It was hard for them to realize that the wonderful house was theirs to move into whenever they chose. They spent all their time thinking about it, and what they were going to put into it. As their week with Aniele was up in three days, they lost no time in getting ready. They had to make some shift to furnish it, and every instant of their leisure was given to discussing this. Continue reading »
For as avid of a reader and podcast listener as I am, I don’t listen to books very often. Audio books are hard for me to get into because I tend to listen and do at the same time, be it commuting, traveling, or working out (yes, I listen to podcasts while I run. Go ahead and giggle). And if something else grabs my attention, be it a neighborhood dog lunging for my apparently delicious tennis shoes or an announcement of a train delay, I can’t just trace back to where I was in an audio book like I can on paper.
However, when Macmillan Audio contacted me about the audio release of Ann Leary’s The Good House, I accepted their offer of a review copy. I did not regret it.
Leary’s novel about a middle-aged New England real estate professional is a darkly funny yet touching portrait of a woman and her community. Hildy Good is an alcoholic who is (sort of) in recovery, dealing with a slow business year and her fair share of interpersonal relationship problems. Her inner monologue skewers everything from townie weirdness to politically-correct educational methods to East Coast WASPiness with a wry sense of humor. Yet Hildy’s own vulnerabilities keep her brash observations from taking over the story. And as the novel delves into the literary worlds of mysteries and thrillers later in the story, Hildy’s voice is a constant–if unreliable–witness.
For how down-to-earth and practical Hildy is, she has a whimsical side. The undercurrent reference to her persecuted female predecessors, whether they are victims in the Salem witch trials or her misunderstood bipolar mother, puts an interesting twist on Hildy’s “mind reading” parlor tricks and her perceived second-class status as a recovering alcoholic. Continue reading »
A vacation just isn’t a vacation without a good novel. While the news junkie in me gobbles nonfiction by the pound, that genre seems somehow ill-suited to the beach.
In preparing to soak up some sun this Labor Day weekend, I wondered how I could relax but still get some work done, at least for my trusty Book Scan readers. I thought maybe—like me—you’re looking for an escape without leaving the office entirely.
That brought me into the world of real estate fiction. A cursory search of Amazon’s real estate-related fiction offerings presented me with a whopping 403 entries in the romance novel category. Five—count ‘em, five!—of these books all had the same title. Turns out the phrase Hot Property is as much a cliché in real estate fiction titles as it is in listing copy. Continue reading »