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Copyright 2019 by Joyce Huntington.  All Rights Reserved. 
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Rules of Civility

There is so much to see and do in New York City when it comes to tripping on Rules of Civility.  And that’s all right because I found the city gives you an extra energy boost so you really never want to be in your room. I am counting on you feeling the same way, so I’ve laid out a pretty aggressive plan here. I placed into the itinerary everything I think is important.  I did not, however, include the locations where restaurants and cafes have closed down.  You can add those if you’d like to see them along the way.

Rules of Civility

Sample Itinerary




Cocktails at the Algonquin

Dinner at Fanelli’s



Shop on  Fifth Avenue

Tour St. Patricks and Atlas

Tour St. Bartholomew


Modern Museum of Art for Walker Evans Photographs

Dinner and Book Chat at 21 Club

Cocktails at King Cole Bar



 Central Park Stroll, Beresford, Inspiration Walk

Lunch at the Boat House

High Line Walk

River Walk




Empire State Building

Lunch and Check Out

GetTING Around


There's no need to bring a car into the mix on this adventure. In fact, a car would cause big problems and great expense.  You would be much better on foot and using the subway.

Making a moment


It would be so fun to play some of the games you learn about in Rules of Civility.


Wallace’s Card Game

In Rules of Civility:

“It was an ingenious little game.  Wallace had played it with his grandfather on rainy days in the Adirondacks. Here’s how it works:  you place the shuffled deck on the table.  Your opponent draws the top card and then has two options:  he can keep the card, look at the second one, and discard it facedown; or he can discard the first card and keep the second one.  Then it’s your turn.  The two of you go back and forth in this manner until the deck is exhausted, at which point you each hold the thirteen cards, having discarded thirteen – giving the game an unusual elegant balance between intention and chance.” Page 185

What to do:  

Play the card game that Wallace teaches Katey a new game of cards.  Bring a few decks of cards and pair off and try to learn the new game.


Play Bridge

In Rules of Civility:

“On something of a whim, I had spent fifteen cents on a primer for contact bridge and it had quickly earned its keep.  Any given Saturday, I could play for reveille to taps.  I would deal out the deck at my little kitchen table and move from chair to chair so that I could play each of the four positions in turn.  Page 59

What to do:

I don’t see you inside playing bridge if New York City is just outside your window calling you to come out and play.  However, you if you have girls who know how to play the game you could have a game during a cocktail hour one night.  Or if you don’t you could give out a bridge primer as a prize and challenge the winner to teach you all to play. 


On the Road to Kent

In Rules of Civility:

“There’s an old parlor game called On the Road to Kent in which the things that he witnessed along the way: the various tradesmen; the wagons and carriages; the heath and the heather; the whip-poor-will; the windmill and the gold sovereign dropped by the abbot in the ditch.  When the traveler finishes he describes the journey a second time, leaving out some items, adding others, rearranging a few, and the game is to identify as many of the changes as possible.” Page  241

What to do:

You can play the game in two ways.  You can do it the way it’s supposed to be played or you can play the way Katey did and identify all the hints along the way that pointed to what Tinker was really up to.

Talking It



Amor Towles is quite the guy. I love this little passage on his website where he offers up questions for discussion.  But… the very best part about that is that he says he might be available to STOP BY if your book discussion is in New York City.  It is a rare and wonderful gift an author can give his readers. He met my book club at the Algonquin and we're still talking about it years later!


And of course I have questions of my own:


---In Rules of Civility, Tinkert, Eve and Katey learned a lot from each other.  Reread the question and answer game on page 50 and talk about how haunting their answers were.

---Is this really a book about how to be a gentleman?  Talk about George Washington’s Rules of Civility and the passages like this one: “But Val counted few backward-looking habits as virtues; and in regards to the mysteries of my past, as in regards to so much else, he was a gentleman first.”  Page 6 I

---Notice there are a few passages about gentlemanly behavior.   Examine them.

---Ask around.  How many of you saw clues along the way about what Tinker Grey was up to?

In what way did Anne Grandon hurt Katey Content?  In what way did she help her?

---What kind of friend did Bitzy turn out to be?

What do you think happened to Tinker Gray.  How do you feel about that?  Why did Amor Towles banish him, do you think?

---What purpose did Katey’s relationship with Wallace serve?

---Describe Katey’s relationship with literature.  How did it help her?

---When Wallace told Katey she shouldn’t be running anyone’s errands, not his, not his mother’s not Mason Tate’s.  What did he mean and how do you think it was received?

---You can watch this TV book club discussion for fun.

literary loot

Have some fun with these things Amor Towles mentioned in the book.


Annie Oakley Postcards

In Rules of Civility:

“The next day at a little shop on Bleecker Street I bought a postcard of Annie Oakley.  She was in full western regalia – a deerskin shirt, white fringed boots, and two pearl-handled six shooters.”  Page  181

What to do:

Buy some Annie Oakley postcards and either send them out with updates or give them out as gifts.


Katey’s Supplies

In Rule of Civility:

“When I got back downtown, still reeling a bit from my encounter with Wyss, I finally went to the grocer to restock the pantry of my routines:  a new deck of cards, a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of second grade gin.”  Page 199

What do to:

Buy these supplies and hand them out as one of the gift bags during your book club weekend.  Or assemble those things and put them on the table together and see who can guess what they are, where they appeared in the book and what their relevance is.



In Rules of Civility:

 “‘You know I actually picked up Walden when you said you wanted to be marooned with it.'”  Page 228

What to do:

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden plays a big role in the novel.  Tinker picked up a copy after Katey mentioned it.  You could buy a nice copy and give it away as a prize, let’s say, to the person who does the best job of talking about it’s relevance to the book in the book chat.


Adventure Books

In Rules of Civility:

“Oh, I must have read Last of the Mohicans and Deerslayer three different times.  But then I loved all the adventure books: Treasure Island… 20,000 Leagues under the Sea … Call of the Wild… Robinson Crusoe.”  Page  226

What to do:

I would pick up all these books at a used book store and give them out as prizes in the book discussion or to winners of the card games.


When Cathedrals Were White

In Rules of Civility:

“In 1936 the great French architect Le Corbusier published a little book called When the Cathedrals Were White detailing his first trip to New York.”  Page 269

What to do:

Get that book!  It would be a fun read and a fun gift.

Rule of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation

Yes!  George Washington really did write up some rules to follow for decent behavior.  I suggest you buy one for everyone in your group and hand them out!  Or you could pick up the collectors version and give it out as a prize.


Walker Evans

In Rules of Civility:

“On the night of October 4th, 1966, Val and I, both in late middle age, attended the opening of Many Are Called at the Museum of Modern Art – the first exhibit of the portraits taken by Walker Evans in the late 1930’s on the New York City subways with a hidden camera. ”  Page  1

What do to:

I saved the best for last.  Yes, Many Are Called is a book.  What you want to do is get the book.   You can give it away as the big prize of the weekend.  It’s expensive.  You might want to get is used.


I have to be honest.  Sometimes, making the music list is difficult for me because I am not musically educated or even inclined.  So, you can imagine my relief when I found Amor Towles made up his own music selection for Rules of Civility.  Are you kidding? So, you could use his Spotify list.  


So, we’re done, right?  No.  There's one more thing. Amor Towles wrote this beautiful passage about Autumn in New York:


“Presumably, one factor is that each city has its own romantic season.  Once a year, a city’s architectural, cultural and horticultural variables come into alignment with the solar course in such a way that men and women passing each other on the thoroughfares feel an unusual sense of romantic promise.  Like Christmastime in Vienna, or April in Paris.

That’s the way New Yorkers feel about Autumn.”  Page 206


It’s one of my favorites in the book and while he has the song on his list - so many artists recorded it. I would create a gift CD with just "Autumn in New York" renditions by these artists:


Billie Holiday

Sonny Sitt

Chet Baker

Frank Sinatra

Bud Powell

Oscar Peterson

Dawn Upshaw

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

diving deeper

I try  to stay away from Google when I'm reading a book. I don't want to tarnish the telling of the story. Then - when it's over, I go down the rabbit hole. These links would be good to send to your book club.


Amor Towles


It’s fun to watch Amor Towles talk about his novel.  This is an interesting discussion in which Towles talks about his book club in Oregon.  And this is Towles responding to what he calls the weirdest question he’s ever been asked.


Amor Towles on Clothing

Amor Towles talks about the role of clothing in a person’s lifetime.


John William Warde

If you were wondering, he really did exist.


Gotham Magazine

Interestingly, there is a Gotham Magazine, but this one got started in 2001.