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Rated: E · Book · Entertainment · #1374531
A journal of items that I am reading/ have read: a personal commitment for 2008
I have comitted to reading at least one book a month in an effort to become a better writer. Too much of my time is spent surfing the net, and it is affecting my ability to concentrate on print material. I notice I don't read nearly as much as I used to, so this is my effort to reverse this situation.

I have also decided to keep track of articles I read, especailly those that have to do with personal self-improvement and improving my writing.
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January 13, 2008 at 3:14pm
January 13, 2008 at 3:14pm
The Sky's the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan
Author: Steven Gaines
Little, Brown, and Co.

Cover art for The Sky's the Limit

A good read detailing the author's inside track knowledge of upscale real estate on the east and west sides of New York.

I picked this book up while strolling through the aisles of the dollar store. I thought I might find a tidbit or two that I could use to enhance the details of my writing. I was pleasantly surprised by what I had unknowingly gotten for my dollar.

Gaines' writing style is almost conversational in tone and flow. He not only details how real estate deals are transacted, how the boards work that select the people who are allowed to purchase in certain buildings, which buildings are most desirable, and who the principal players are on the real estate scene; he also provides a history of how the east and west sides came to be, as well as some history of some of the more famous residential buildings In New York. Some of the more colorful, important, famous, and infamous transactions in the last century or so are described in the book.

He also gets into the personalities and idiosyncracisies of some of the prominent figures on that scene. The snobbishness, eliteism, and seeming pettiness involved in keeping certain people and elements at bay are hard to believe, but somehow amusing when told from Gaines' perspective. It's scary the power that some people have over the destinies of others.

Although there is a section of photos that give "faces" to some of the written content, I was a bit disappointed that this section was so thin. I would like to have seen more pictures of buildings mentioned in the book in a "then and now" format, as was done with the Astonia.

This book was published in 2005, so that was before the death of Linda Stein, real estate agent to the stars. It was interesting to read about her without wondering if the author's objectivity had been affected by her shocking murder at the hand of her assistant. She sounded like quite a character, as did most of the agents he mentioned in this book. But then, I guess they have to be considering the people they deal with, the amount of money and the prestige at stake, not to mention the astronomical commissions they stand to earn or lose.

The book was funny in places and sad in others, but it was definitely entertaining and educating. As for meeting my research needs, it more than did that.

I'm going to have to check out the book aisle in the dollar store on a more regular basis.

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