Hotel: An American History

After his inauguration, George Washington embarked on a tour of the United States to bolster support for its fledgling government; sadly, the poor guy could barely find a decent place to rest his head. ?The only Inn short of Hallifax having...no Rooms or beds which appeared tolerable, & everything else having a dirty appearance, I was compelled to keep on,? the father of our country wrote wearily of his visit to North Carolina. In this erudite, engaging, and beautifully illustrated history, Sandoval-Strausz examines how the inns of Washington?s day -- places where a drunken stranger might join you in bed at any point during the night -- came to be replaced by the hotel, which, he argues, is a uniquely American invention. The author links the proliferation of hotels to the rise of capitalism. In Colonial times, strangers were viewed with suspicion and often run out of town, but in the 19th century, with revolutions in steam and rail transportation facilitating the movement of goods, the people moving the goods needed dependable places to stay along their routes. By the early 20th century, the emergence of mass tourism and the popularization of the automobile meant that more and more Americans were hitting the road. Thus, the creation of the ?institutional model of hospitality,? which is something of a fancy term for the Kids Eat Free special at the Holiday Inn.
-

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.