Things to do in NYC That are Not on the First Page of the Tourist Guide Book

Imagine the following, if you can: your coming to NYC for a vacation. You’ve consulted the various tourist guide books, but you want to see a little more of the city. You may or may not have taken the obligatory pictures at Times Square or gotten tickets to a Broadway show. As a local, trust me when I say there is much more to see and do.

  • One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go to a Brooklyn Cyclones game in Coney Island. MCU Park is an easy walking distance from the train station. Tickets prices range anywhere from $10 to $20 a seat. Unlike the larger stadiums, every seat is a good seat. And if one is to get there early enough, there is a free goodie that corresponds with the night’s theme.
  • The Museum at Eldridge Street is both a museum and a working synagogue. Built in 1887, this absolutely beautiful building is a reminder that America is a land of immigrants. Though the original worshippers are long gone, the soul of that generation and the belief in one’s faith are part and parcel of the structure.
  • The Brooklyn Promenade is one of the most picturesque parts of the borough. On a clear day, you can see across the river to lower Manhattan and all the way to the Statue of Liberty.
  • If you’re looking for a good meal and then a walk to burn it off, head to Chelsea Piers and the Highline. Anyone who loves to eat will have a hard time choosing where to dine.
  • After spending all day inside, a day at Prospect Park and the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn is the perfect antidote. The park is perfect for picnicking, taking a walk, getting some exercise, and learning about the wild world around us.
  • If you are willing to try something new, take the Q train to Emmons Avenue. Foodies will be in heaven.
  • The Morgan Library is one of my favorite museums. Originally the home of J.P. Morgan, it hosts a variety of exhibits. My favorite room is his personal library. It is a bookworm‘s wet dream.
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MCU Park

Readers, what do you think? Do you have any suggestions?

How to Save Money in NYC

We all know that NYC is an expensive place to live. As much as I love this city, I am fully aware that the cost of everything is higher. But, if you know where the look, there are ways of saving a few dollars.

  1. Take public transportation. Like anyone who lives there, I am fully aware of the downsides of using the MTA to get around. But even with those problems, there is no beating that for one fare, you can go from one end of the city to another, 24/7/365.
  2. The dollar store is your best friend. Not everything is cheaper than the big box stores, but the deals may be surprising.
  3. Not everyone can afford to live alone. Though the roommate experience is sometimes hit or miss (as I painfully remember), it is the most economical way to reside here if you cannot afford an apartment on your own.
  4. If you need furniture, there are multiple options: local stores, Craigslist, various apps, etc. If you must buy new and prefer to go to a name brand store, hit up Target or Ikea. They are a pain in the ass to put together (even if you have to pay someone), but overall, it is worth it. The pieces I bought from Ikea more than a decade ago are still in good condition.
  5. When it comes time to get a haircut, find a local salon. Their work is just as good as the expensive salons and many will throw in a free blowout. In my experience, the ones owned by AAPI owners provide a pretty good service at a price that will not break the bank.
  6. Buy in bulk, large sizes, and store brands. If you do have access to a car, stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are worth the drive and the membership fee.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities to be outdoors. Most, if not all of the parks and beaches are free to enter.
  8. If you are a bookworm like me, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the public library. If you must buy a book, hit up a local bookstore or 2nd hand store/thrift shop. This is also good if you are looking for a gift for someone. Now granted, you might not find exactly what you are looking for. But you never know what you may find. My favorite bookstores are the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan (great for browsing), Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, and of course, Housing Works.
  9. If you have a New York State driver’s license, you can get into some museums for nothing or almost nothing.
  10. Use Yelp and Time Out. Yelp is great because the reviews come from customers. Time Out has listings for things to do that will please almost anyone.
  11. If you can, purchase your produce from a street vendor. The quality is just as good as a traditional retailer and the price is just a tad cheaper.
  12. Finally, if you want to see a Broadway show, there are ways to have this experience that will not empty your wallet. If you are willing and/or able to climb stairs, seats on the upper levels of the theaters are always cheaper. For me, it’s about the experience. I don’t mind going up a few flights. Organizations like TKTS sell tickets at discounted prices. However, not every show is listed (especially the popular shows) and the desired seats are not always available. There is also the option of going to one of the booths. The primary one is located in Times Square. Just prepared to be waiting in a very long line.
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Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground Book Review

The choice of book speaks volumes about the reader. It’s one of those things that tells us something about that person even before they open their mouth.

Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground, Uli Beutter Cohen, was published last month. In the book, the author interviewers 170 New Yorkers from different backgrounds about the books they are reading while riding the subway. The interviewees are both boldfaced names and ordinary people just going about their business. In doing so, she is not just telling the story of the city as it is today, but of the people who call it home.

I loved this book. As both a bookworm and a native of NYC, it spoke to me. It spoke to my love of this city, books, and how, at the end of the day, this medium has a way of both teaching us and uniting us.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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How To Be A Heroine Book Review

I have a confession to make. I am a lifelong bookworm who extracts great pleasure from opening a favorite book and delving into the comfortable world of a story that I know all too well.

Samantha Ellis is a fellow bookworm. Her newest book is entitled How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much.

Ms. Ellis is the daughter of an Iraqi-Jewish family who for the last couple of generations has lived in England. While writing about her life and the experiences of the older members of her family, she intertwines essays about some of the most well known and loved female literary characters. From Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, to the Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Cathy Earnshaw, to Scarlett O’Hara and many others, Ellis tells her own life story while reminding us why we keep going back to these characters and their stories.

I loved this book. What hooked me immediately and kept me hooked was the integration of Ms. Ellis’s life story and the classic literary female characters. Our favorite literary character often feel like a friend or a family member, we know them as much as we know ourselves.

I highly recommend this book, it is so far, the best new book of 2015 for me.

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