Last week, I was hosting a discussion in a chat room—Blue Sky Book Chat––about friendships and communities formed on-line. This was in the wake of a four-day food and book mash-up in Manhattan and Brooklyn with my son, Zan, and friend, Alison Ragsdale.
I met Alison–a Scot’s lass who has written several books set in her home country–two years back in a Facebook author chat room. We both were astounded that we shared so many common interests, and our friendship blossomed on-line.
For me–perhaps for you, as well– prior to joining Facebook in 2008, the concept of forging friendships on the internet was foreign. To be honest, even a bit creepy.
Match.com had been founded nine years prior to Facebook, so (and this is solely my experience) meeting people on-line was synonymous with hookups and dating. A wonderful source if you’re single and searching, but the internet seemed dicey for simply finding pals with common interests.
Whatever your feelings (or lack of) about social media, Facebook was a game changer for me. I’ve met hundreds of people on-line, particularly on this blog, who share my interests. Manhattan and Brooklyn—with their plethora of Indie bookstores and restaurants– were the perfect playgrounds for Alison and me to meet and romp.
We stayed at The Marlton in West Village, which once housed such notables as Edna St. Vincent Millay and Lillian Gish, who “cooked tinned things and tea” using a sterno lamp in her room in 1913. Jack Kerouac wrote a couple of novellas while holed up at the Marlton and Lenny Bruce stayed there during his six-month trial for obscenity in 1964.
Renovated in 2012, even today, it retains an off-beat vibe and their tiny jewel-box rooms and included breakfasts are exceptional. I spent Halloween, 2014, there with several friends and it was such a blast, I’ll never stay anywhere else. (See this post for details on that little adventure.)
Another bonus about the hotel (I’m not getting a kickback) is some great Indie Bookstores (Strand Bookstore, Printed Matter), the Chelsea Market and seriously fabulous restaurants are all within walking distance.
As if the West Village weren’t enough of a feast, one day we Ubered into Brooklyn. One could spend hours perusing shops in the Williamsburg area of Bedford Avenue alone. We loved Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers, specializing in used and rare books. We continued down and around the bend to enjoy drinks at William Vale Hotel (their view from the rooftop bar is unparalleled) and dinner at Oxomoco, where tacos are not just a taco. (see their menu).
Such a fabulous get-away but it was manna to return to relatively sleepy little Ann Arbor and my hubby, chirping birds the only sound to break our silence.
Want a taste of books, chatter and friendships forged on-line? Alison and I extend an invite for you to join our group in Blue Sky Book Chat. In celebration of a recent re-brand, all the authors will be giving away a ton of books and swag through June.
You don’t have to buy a plane ticket, just meet us online. Your sofa will do just fine! As always, happy to answer any questions about our trip or the chat room.