Fast Girl: Don’t Brake Until You See the Face of God and Other Good Advice from the Racetrack (Seal Press, 2012)    Available now

Fast Girl is the quirky real-life chronicle of one woman’s journey of self-discovery and liberation through the unlikeliest of means: racecar driving.  Life in her comfortable New Jersey suburb was safe and predictable for this college professor, wife, and mother of a preadolescent daughter.  Her restrained, cultivated life was filled with the usual suspects—work-home-family, bookclub-yoga-datenight.  If something was missing, she wasn’t aware of it, until one day—thinking she’d be a good sport and maybe learn something about what made her car-crazed husband tick—she wodged a helmet on her head, took her tiny car to the racetrack, and learned how to drive it really, really fast.  What began as a companionable lark became a full-blown obsession, as in the course of an eventful year she discovers high-performance sports car driving to be an exhilarating antidote to the shackles of post-feminist suburban conformity.  The book is a life-affirming exploration of pushing oneself way beyond the comfort zone in the often sweaty, noisy, and testosterone-tinged ambience the racetrack.  The subject is not primarily about cars and driving, but how the tackling of a scary new set of skills changed one woman’s whole perspective on life.  There’s the you-go-girl aspect of a highly unlikely character—mild-mannered, sunscreen-wearing Mommy—entering the aggressive, adrenaline-packed, male-dominated world of high-speed track driving.  But then there are also the incidental musings that this whole world prompted—from a comparison of the Zen of the racetrack with yoga, to the choice of lacy panties as track-driving undergarment of choice, to a consideration of balls and bravery in a woman’s life.  Ultimately, though, it’s a story of the transformative power of exposing and overcoming self-imposed psychological boundaries.


The New York Public Library: A Beaux-Arts Landmark (London: Scala, reprinted in April 2012)

Commissioned by the New York Public Library as a pocket-sized guide to its historic building on 42nd Street, this book is a concise history and description of one of the most beautiful civic buildings anywhere, from its location on the former site of the Croton holding reservoir, through the design competition, construction and adornment with sculpture and mural paintings.  Compact but beautifully illustrated, the book also serves as a gateway to the Beaux-Arts period in New York.


Marble Palaces, Temples of Art: Art Museums, Architecture, and American Culture, 1890-1930 (Bucknell University Press, 1998).

Available from Associated University Presses.

Based on the Wilber Owen Sypherd Prize-winning dissertation in art history for the University of Delaware, this book is an investigation into the architectural and social importance of American art museums.