Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book Club - Heads In Beds

Boy reading Captain America, 1942 Life Magazine. Photo: Hugh Morton.
The best thing about my own book club is I get to pick the books. If I start reading a book and it is awful, I can stop and move on to another. I can not emphasis enough how much I enjoy being able to drop a book instead of muddle through it, only to have everyone complain how dreadful it is over some two buck chuck.

If there is one thing I can promise you, it is I will not recommend a clunker of a book. Ain't nobody got time for that. I have started a few books, digging a few chapters in only to drop it like a hammer and click on to the next.

As a past server/bartender/restaurant manager, I'm always looking for stories similar to my own. If you have worked in the hospitality industry in any form for at least a year, you have earned membership into an elite fraternity. And, yes, it is a fraternity, because sorority girls don't swear that much. The hours are ridiculous, the co-workers are something out of a 1995 Jerry Springer special and the customers are at times unbearable.

But for some reason, we all get sucked in.

After reading Jacob Tomsky's book, "Heads in Beds - A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality,"  I feel like I know him.  A ten year veteran of the hotel business, Tomsky walks you through his experience, how he went from valet to the front desk, while dropping nuggets of insidery goodness along the way. Between dealing with anxious sales folks screaming to "get heads in beds" or they will all end up in Godforsaken Cleveland (ha), and guests of every questionable ilk, there is a delicate balance of service and shenanigans.

Tomsky offers advice on how to score off the mini bar and how to get a free in room movie in a way that Anthony Bourdain would approve of. This guy is quick-witted, honest, hilarious and a bit of a hustler.  After reading "Kitchen Confidential",  I would never dream of ordering seafood on a Monday and now, after "Heads in Beds" I will never drink out of another hotel room glass again. Ever.

The book is full of hints and tips on how to behave as a guest (always have a breath mint), and how not to behave (don't bring up the beautiful weather to people stuck inside all day - preach on brother) while taking you on a journey of the hardening of his soul; an inevitable event that happens over time reigned over by bad bosses and 14 hour days. 

Tomsky drops some dirty words, so the book isn't for the kiddies unless you want to explain what on earth one guest would do to himself with the special contents of his shopping bag.  


"Heads in Beds" is an entertaining read that will change the way you think about hotels and the people that occupy them.

After you read it, leave me a comment and tell me what you think. Have you ever wanted to rain paperwork over your boss' head?


  1. This is one that has me stumped. From what I've read in a couple of reviews, some seem to find it offensive in places, yet really funny in other parts. How do you read/listen to a book and know when to skip the offensive parts? I noticed on the website of a literary radio show I follow, The Book Report, that "Heads in Beds" was listed to be reviewed this past week on the show. I don't often get a chance to hear it broadcast on radio, but I do stream past show from their website(bookreportradio(dot)com) archives - they usually have great author interviews and lots of interesting books discussed. I'll listen to the clip they play from the audio book in the hope that I get a clearer idea. Thanks for your input.

  2. Hmm...there wasn't anything I found particularly offensive in the book. Maybe some off language, but nothing too terrible. There is some adult language, and if that is what offends you, there may be parts in the book. There is also massive alcohol consumption in parts, but if you have ever worked in hospitality, it is the norm :) I hope this is helpful to you. I really enjoyed the book.