Review: The House on First Street

The House on First Street
The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story
by Julia Reed
Harper Perennial, 224 pages
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Julia Reed’s The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story may be her memoir of the renovation of the home she buys (across the street from Anne Rice’s old place) with her husband, after many years of living in tiny, funky New Orleans rentals, and not quite cutting ties with New York, but it’s also a love story about old houses and old cities, and the magic that both offer, if you only know how to feel it.

While this book, with it’s comical (to those of us who are merely reading about it) and familiar (to any of us have gone through it) tales of slow, less-than-adequate contractors, dusty floors, paint disasters, plumbing woes and the search for the perfect appliances, fixtures (everything from the most charming door knob for an inside door, to debates about porcelain – should they use Toto toilets or some other brand?), rugs, and furniture is essentially about the relatively common practice of restoring a vintage home, it’s also a first-hand account of the aftermath of Katrina.

The hurricane struck, you see, just two weeks after Reed and her husband had finally moved into the House on First Street. They were lucky – they lost an expensive tree, and had some minor exterior damage – but their neighborhood didn’t flood. Nevertheless, Reed was in position to be in the city sooner than most of the other residents, and while she shares humorous anecdotes about buying barbecue for an entire platoon of National Guards, underlying the wry tone is the poignance of a woman who just wants to go home.

Booking Through Thursday: Bedside

I never answered last week’s Booking Through Thursday, so am doing so now, to get it in under the wire:


On Thursday, May 27th, Booking through Thursday asked:

What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?

My book collection is rather eclectic. I have books that I’ve had since childhood, books that I kept that still have notices reminding me when I could sell textbooks back to the bookstore for cash, and books that I bought and never read.

My to-be-read pile lives in a combination of piles on my nightstand and books still in Barnes and Noble bags, waiting for me. I am embarrassed to admit that I bought a second copy of Three Cups of Tea a few weeks ago, forgetting that I already had a copy in my TBR queue.

Tonight, sparked by this question, I went through the stacks, and listed, in no particular order the books that I have yet to read. Or the bulk of them, anyway. There are others, because sometimes something appeals to me in the moment and then by the time I get to it my mood has changed. It’s not a problem though, because eventually everything does get read.

But anyway, the list:

  • Barefoot, by Elin Hilderbrand – IN PROGRESS
  • Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by Susan Vreeland
  • Ground Up, by Michael Idov
  • The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, by Syrie James
  • Acedia & Me, by Kathleen Norris
  • Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
  • Touchstone, by Laurie R. King
  • Muse and Reverie, by Charles de Lint
  • Changes, by Jim Butcher
  • Hope in a Jar, by Beth Harbison
  • Lunch in Paris, by Elizabeth Bard
  • The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks
  • The House on Oyster Creek, by Heidi Jon Schmidt
  • The Blue Bistro, by Elin Hilderbrand

So, what’s on YOUR list?