It was hot, clammy and claggy, in only the way New York can be in August, and I had just moved back to the city after living in London for more than 20 years. Finally unable to bear my oven of a flat any longer, I decided to explore my new neighbourhood and stepped out on to the pavement, which swam before my eyes in the heat and was entirely empty, as every other right-thinking New Yorker had either left the city or was lying prostrate in front of their air conditioner. I wandered around for as long as I could bear it before flinging myself into a little shop I barely looked at save for noticing it had a blessed air conditioner in the window.
It turned out to be the place where I would spend more time during my years in New York than anywhere else, apart from my flat (once I sorted out the cooling system, of course). Three Lives bookshop in the West Village is one of those little shops that makes people love New York: quirky, knowledgeable, impossible to pass without picking up something and always stocked with treats for the neighbourhood dogs, whose names all the staff know. If you are going to New York, I urge you to visit it.
I went in and said I loved essay books and was looking for a funny one after having finished the latest by the great Davids: Sedaris and Rakoff. Without hesitation, the man behind the counter handed me a copy of Nora Ephron's book, Crazy Salad – Some Things About Women. I took it home, started reading and soon no longer even noticed the heat.