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Apple of My Eye

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  570 ratings  ·  99 reviews
A celebration of her life-long love for New York, Hanff embarked on this project as an assignment, and realized she had not been to many of the main tourist attractions- the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the World Trade Center. As make-believe tourists, off she and Patsy travel to describe the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant's Tomb, Fraunces Tavern, some of New York's ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Moyer Bell and its subsidiaries (first published 1977)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  570 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Over the last few years I’ve kept a correspondence with my library’s nonfiction purchaser, enabling me to get a head start on reading new books that had been on my radar. I call this my 84, Charing Cross Road moment in homage to New Yorker Helene Hanff’s epistolary memoir with a book store employee in London. I found the book charming and could relate to Hanff as one who needed an outlet to discuss books and maintain an overseas pen pal relationship in the days long before the internet and email ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
So much fun reading about Manhattan of 40 years ago. Hanff's breezy style always goes down easy. It's one thing to say I wish I had known a certain author, but with Hanff I feel certain that I have known her. That we've been to a 92nd Street Y event together. (We haven't.)

The first couple of World Trade Center mentions were a punch to the gut, but then I grew grateful that this was one of the sights on her list.

Loved her descriptions of the newly designed Roosevelt Island and the newly reopened
Thomas Strömquist
I think I had a constant smile on my face reading this little gem. The fact that this book about New York is outdated now does not really matter, since it is no more a tourist guide than "84, Charing Cross Road" is a book ordering instruction manual. ...more
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This time I toured New York of the '70s with Helene. It didn't quite get me in the same way as The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street but that because I have been to London and could visualise the places she was talking about. The New York trip was still great with lots of interesting historical tidbits and asides by Helene. An interesting, if a little dated, guide book. ...more
Bill Lynas
Back in the late 1970s Helene Hanff was asked to contribute some text to a book of photographs on New York City. An easy task she thought, until she realised she knew very little about the city she lived in.
Accompanied by her friend Pasty she trekked across New York. They visit iconic landmarks, occasionally get lost & even discover why 6th Avenue is confusingly called Avenue of the Americas. Hanff's style is light & chatty & this is a pretty short & sweet read.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Bridget
Shelves: nonfiction, overseas
Rainy bank holiday afternoons are ideal reading time and I greatly enjoyed taking a tour of New York with Helene Hanff. I am a committed armchair tourist: one who has no real urge to actually visit distant places but loves to read about them. Hanff is a wonderfully engaging writer, so this is an extremely readable account of New York’s tourist spots in the latter half of the twentieth century. It is a little weird to read a detailed account of visiting the World Trade Centre, though. Hanff exper ...more
Lisa Brantly
3.5 stars. Probably my least favorite of Hanff's books. But, still fun. I'll re-read if I ever go to New York. ...more
Jeanette (Again)
This is the most lighthearted, informal guide book you'll ever read. Back in 1976, Hanff was commissioned to write the text for what was to be a book of photographs and tourist information for Manhattan. I have no idea what happened to the pictorial part of the equation. This book has no photos. But the text is delightful. Over a period of two months, the author and her friend Patsy went out once or twice a week to places of interest to both tourists and locals. Hanff would then write up a few p ...more
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Chris for this gem of a book!

Oh to tour New York City in the 1970s with the wonderful, witty Helene Hanff and her friend Patsy. The next best thing is to read this book.
You will visit Ellis Island & Staten Island. You'll see Roosevelt Island via the brand new cable car. View the city from the top of the World Trade Center (funny because they are scared of heights, but oh so sad because of what will happen in 25 years). Tour Harlem on the penny bus. Explore the Cathedral of St John th
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I chose this book because I am smitten with Helen Hanff and I am always interested in finding out more about NYC as I visit my daughter there at least once a year. Sadly this book was quite dated, albeit retaining some charm because it is still Helen Hanff. However the device of visiting tourist spots with a chatty friend did not work well. There was a bit too much fluffy chat between the bff's and too little information about the places visited. ...more
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
She seemed a bit cranky as she wrote this, but it was better than I expected it to be. Fun to read about Roosevelt Island and its tram when it first opened.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How fun to get a view of NYC from one who's lived there most of her life....but temporarily living as a tourist, just to see what it's like (and to sell a book, of course). I love her realization in the beginning that she's lived here her entire adult life, and yet never seen some of the world-renowned locations that tourists come to New York for... I can relate, having so often not checked out the sights and sounds nearby because I live here, and "I'll get around to it someday."

Since this was f
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable read about the author becoming acquainted with her hometown through the lens of a tourist. I snagged this book from a collection that came from a late friend because of how much I loved 84 Charing Cross Road. This book had the same voice and was full if tidbits of trivia and humor. I learned about The Cloisters (I always wondered what they were). I found out the source of the euphemism "using the facilities." I learned about the sad fate if immigrants turned away at Ellis Isla ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this short love letter to New York City/guidebook so much. Around 1976, Helene and her friend Patsy decided to play tourist for a few weeks so that Helene can better write descriptions about various tourist destinations for one of her writing jobs. Following them on their journey was so much fun. Hanff's wry humor struck the right chord with me and I delighted in having been to many of the attractions they described. It was bittersweet to read about the newly build World Trade Ce ...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: bios, travelogue
Helene Hanff is such a quintessential New Yorker that when the BBC wanted someone to present a little five minute piece on New York once a month on the Woman's Hour they looked to Helene. In the minds of the British, Helene IS New York. Plus, they have taken her to heart ever since 84, Charing Cross Road. So logically, when a publishing house in New York was looking for someone to write captions to accompany pictures taken of New York they too looked to Helene to provide her sharp wit to their v ...more
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The very witty and somewhat acerbic writer Helene Hanff followed up on her success with 84, Charing Charing Cross Road, her famous memoir (made into a charming film with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins) of her two-decade trans-Atlantic communications with the London bookshop of the same name, with this highly personal and eclectic guide to Manhatttan, circa 1977.

The New York of that time was far from the glittering, polished-up Big Apple that we think of today. New York as a city was broke, di
Jan C
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my mother and others who like to walk in NYC
Shelves: ny
I really liked this walking tour of New York City. I'm not from New York. I remember we all went there in the early '60s. My father had a business trip and my brother and I were out of school. My mother really wanted to go see the Cloisters. My brother not so much. And I just got dragged along. It should be noted that no one bothered to check on whether they were open that day. They weren't. My brother left my mother and me standing by the side of the road and I guess went back to the hotel on h ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
Just happened to see this book featured on a shelf at the library in the week before going to NYC for a trip & it was the perfect book for reading on the plane. Helene was very witty and funny in describing her adventures of visiting all the best tourist sites in NYC with her friend Patsy as part of her research for a travel guide. Surprisingly, this book is as old as I am, but most of the sites she visited are still top tourist destinations. She also mixes in bits of history and politics of the ...more
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Being a fan of all things NYC, and particularly all things NYC in the 1970s, I thought that this 'travelogue' by a city native written in spring 1977 would give a real insight to the city as it was in the midst of financial crisis and artistic expression. No such luck.

A quick, light and basically shallow read about the author's journey around a tiny part of her city with a friend, that spent more time documenting their conversations than informing the reader of much interesting about the city.

While not as charming as other works of Helene Hanff that I have devoured (84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street), as a native New Yorker, this book had a certain appeal to me. I think many of us suffer from a repulsion to so many of the wonderful sights and sounds of the city because they are deemed to be for tourists only, and therefore not cool enough to bother with. It was on a random whim that I went to visit Ellis Island and the Stature of Liberty one summer in high sc ...more
Lynn Brown
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up a copy of this book from 1982 second hand and I am so glad I did.

Loving Helene Hanff's voice in 84 Charing Cross Road I have been tracking down her other works and this one is a star if you are a fan of New York City.

Helene and her friend visit like tourists would, their home city of New York. Helene is researching the writing of a book for tourists, what they would see and where they could go. It's really like a history lesson as it's from 1982, and of course the Twin Towers are sti
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, myp, 11fave
I have enjoyed every one of the five or six books I've read by Helene Hanff, but this is my least favourite.

I generally enjoy her pithy, dry wit, and lively sense of humour. In this book she is visiting various places in New York, accompanied by a friend, to prepare for a book on... visiting New York. It was interesting to hear about the city from someone who knows it well, and she included some lesser known places as well as the standard ones. It seems a bit laboured at times though, compared
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Assigned to write the captions for a photographic book about New York, Hanff, who had lived there all her adult life, realised there was much about the city she had never seen or didn't know. So she and a friend embarked on whirlwind two month tour of New York's high points. The book describes their trips and is interspersed with Hanff's trademark dry wit. I love New York (in theory at least, I suspect I'll never get to visit in person) and Hanff' s writing style so it's no surprise I enjoyed th ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would read Helene Hanff's shopping list if she'd written that down. She is so approachable and funny.
The book is recommended reading for anyone visiting New York, even today, as she's writing about her treks across the city while writing copy for a guidebook about NYC. A bit of a trigger warning applies, however, as the book mentions WTC quite a bit (it's published in 1977).

It's a short book but seemingly took 10 days to read: not really. I read 50 pages on the plane to New York and the other
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am a big fan of Helene... I think I am on a good way to have read all her books sometime soon. :-)
This here was as delightful as the previous - I only wish I could have had a map besides me to
walk along (in my mind) the streets and avenues she visited.
I know some of the places, but some were new .. and even though a lot will have changed since 1977, there will be still quite a lot to see from Helene's New York if and when I will visit this city again.
Looking forward to it!
It was fun to make a tour in New York with Helene Hanff and her friend Patsy as you haven't been able to travel anywhere lately because of the corona virus. I've visited NY only once in the early '70s, and as I was a child then, many of the places mentioned here weren't familiar to me at all. Helene visits World Trade Center in this book and I noticed that WTC was built in 1973, just after my visit to NY. ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Becky by:
This is a nostalgic look back at New York City during the seventies from the author of 84, Charing Cross Road. Anyone who lived or visited NYC then will marvel at how much the city has changed. It was a fun walk down memory lane for me and also introduced me to some sights that I have not seen yet and will seek out when I visit again!
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this short quaint book quite a bit, but noticed an error in President Grant's name on page 69: the middle initial S not does stand for Samuel. If anything it may represent Simpson, but in reality it means nothing. Grant's given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. It caught my eye and made me wonder about the editing/review process. ...more
Lauren Brownfield
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such fun! Wish I could be best friends with Helene Hanff and go all over Manhattan with her.
Not a typical tourist book (of course), but will make you want to go to New York.
Includes a visit to the World Trade Center which is good, but difficult to read. Also a description of Trump Tower in the appendices, but she thinks it gaudy so it's kinda fun.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is about a resident of New York City writing a book for visitors to New York City.

I do enjoy Helene Hanff's writing and the way that she describes situations.

Through the book, I learned about NYC but was not enthralled with it.

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Helene Hanff (April 15, 1916–April 9, 1997) was an American writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84 Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a play, teleplay, and film of the same name.

Her career, which saw her move from writing unproduced plays to helping create some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a kind of professional New Y

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