Flavorpill Book Club: Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number

Welcome to the first edition of the Flavorpill Book Club. Why are we launching a book club? Because we’re an office full of huge readers always looking for recommendations, and we’ve noticed that most of you guys are too. Why did we choose Sloane Crosley’s second collection of humorous personal essays, How Did You Get This Number, as our first selection? Because three of our editors happened to be reading it at the same time — and they all loved it. When does that happen?

So here’s how this is going to work: Click through to read more about why this is the book all of your friends will be talking about this summer. Go out and buy a copy of the book. Read it. If you’ve got a question for Sloane, leave it as a comment here or send an email to tips [at] flavorpill [dot] com. (We’d also like to hear what you think about our selection.) We’ll be emailing her our favorite questions at the end of the month, and featuring her responses, along with any choice bits of commentary from you guys, in a followup post.

How Did You Get This Number opens with “Show Me on the Doll,” a story in which an almost 30-something Sloane goes to Lisbon alone expecting to have an epic vacation, but ends up cowering in her hotel and feeling lonely most of the time — like most of us would. “Lost in Space” details how she went from being labeled a genius baby to a kid with zero spatial-relations skills to a woman can’t tell time on an analog clock. “Take a Stab at It” is a very funny story filled with recognizable characters (the anorexic, OCD roommate; the too-cool-to-care hipster) that captures the way we define ourselves by where we live, whether we’re the post-frat types on the Upper East Side or bohemians living in a condemned former whorehouse on the Bowery.

In “It’s Always Home You Miss,” she manages to take a simple literary fart joke — “hey, taxis smell bad!” and turn it into a story of growing up and growing lonely as an adult, but still feeling like you’re on a precipice between adolescence and responsibility. On one level “Light Pollution” is about Sloane’s trip to Alaska for a friend’s wedding, but it’s also about living in the moment and the impossibility of ever recapturing said moment 100 percent accurately. “If You Sprinkle” introduces us to the Zooey Ellis, the despotic Queen Bee of Sloane’s middle school who is (almost) exactly the same when Sloane runs into her in Chinatown bathroom more than 10 years later.

Sloane gives a brief history all of the animals that passed through the Crosley “family zoo” in “An Abbreviated Catalog of Tongues” — including a rather unfortunate albino squirrel. “Le Paris!” explains how Sloane got herself banished from the city for life thanks in part to a large antique wall thermometer. The final essay in the collection, “Off the Back of a Truck,” tells the painful story of a failed relationship that dovetails nicely with two bits of childhood wisdom from her mother: “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” and “you should never wear anything you can’t afford to lose.”

Check out a few of our favorite passages from the book below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.

From “Take a Stab at It”

“Don’t get me wrong — I’m not one to stand on principle when I can sleep in a duplex. I wouldn’t kick gentrification out of bed if it crawled in there free of charge. But it never does. And so despising it becomes not only the right thing to do but the economical thing to do. Reading the ordinance, I found some small consolation in all this, both morally and personally. My haunted real estate heaven would have quickly become a living hell. A few months of freestanding fireplaces and toothbrush hair-crafting and the whole building would be dragged down into a pile of rubble. Not reduced but worse — replaced.

“Already replaced was my conviction that my whole New York existence hinged on my address.”

From “Light Pollution”

“For the first time I understood why people come back from Alaska with fifty pictures of glaciers or return from a honeymoon in Tahiti with fifty pictures of the same sunset. The world is so beautiful in these places, it is impossible to register that there will be more more, more. Surely this is it. Negotiate with your ailing camera battery. How can it not stay alive for this? How can you believe that twenty minutes from now there will be an even taller forest, an even wider waterfall? We are only as good as our most extreme experiences.”

From “Off the Back of a Truck”

“Up until this point, I had thought we could all be like a Woody Allen film. We could be great friends, and our humor would stem from the fact that there was no way in hell we should get along this well. In addition to an emotional suspension of disbelief, that would require us all being equals. Suddenly, I was the Soon-Yi. I did not want to be the Soon-Yi. I also didn’t want to be the Mia, the one who finds the Polaroids. It was bad enough I was turning over the postcards. Woody was the only pure option, and that role had already been cast.”