Happy New Year, everyone! What better way to kickoff 2017 than with an onslaught of amazing books to read courtesy of the oh-so-timely Book of the Month Club? Spoiler: There is no better way!
While most of you were waiting for the clock to strike midnight so you can kiss your lover, or toast to the new year with coworkers and cohorts you were forced to get along with in those last few hours, some of us biblios were bracing ourselves for what was in store in the way of BOTM selections for the month of January. And we couldn’t be happier because they’re finally here, and they are epic as usual.
These are Book of the Month’s January 2017 Selections
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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Kathleen Rooney
It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.
As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.
A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. — Goodreads
Dream big, work hard, love deeply, and walk long: all great resolutions for 2017, and the secret behind the magic of this great novel. — Judge, Nina Sankovitch
Lucky You, Erika Carter
Three women, early twenties, find themselves aimlessly adrift in Erika Carter’s fierce and darkly funny debut novel, Lucky You. Ellie, Chloe and Rachel are friends (sort of); waitresses at the same tired bar in the Arkansas college town they’ve stuck around in too long. Each is becoming unmoored in her own way: Ellie obliterates all feeling with alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity; Chloe pulls out patches of her hair and struggles to keep incipient mental illness at bay; changeable Rachel has fallen under the sway of a messianic boyfriend with whom she’s agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to “health” and asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in “The Project”. In a remote, rural house in the Ozarks, nearly undone by boredom and the brewing tension between them, each tries to solve the conundrum of being alive.
By turns funny, knowing and hauntingly sad, Lucky You delivers the kind of study in damage and detachment that made Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior or Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays so memorable. With startling exactitude and wickedly deadpan humor, it lays bare the emotional core of its characters with surgical precision. The writing is deft and controlled, as natural and unforced as breath—which makes it impossible to look away. — Goodreads
A novel for anyone who has dreamed about leaving their life behind to live in an Eden – but who also knows that real change comes from within. — Rachel Syme
Girls in the Moon, Janet McNally
An exquisitely told, authentic YA debut about family secrets, the shadow of fame, and finding your own way.
Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex–rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister, Luna, indie-rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the cofounder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.
But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits into this family of storytellers, and to maybe even continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. Told in alternating chapters, Phoebe’s first adventure flows as the story of Meg and Kieran’s romance ebbs, leaving behind only a time-worn, precious pearl of truth about her family’s past—and leaving Phoebe to take a leap into her own unknown future. — Goodreads
This book made me feel like I could be in the East Village at 2am in leather boots and ripped tights, and I have never, ever been that cool in real life. — Dana Schwartz
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson
A captivating debut novel for readers of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth unleashes an unforgettable cast of characters into a realm known for its cruelty and peril: the American high school.
In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age. — Goodreads
Authors who inhabit the adolescent world best understand how teens must come to terms with power, and zero in on those who are not afraid to use it. — Sarah Weinman
Homesick For Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh
An electrifying first collection from one of the most exciting short story writers of our time
Ottessa Moshfegh’s debut novel Eileen was one of the literary events of 2015. Garlanded with critical acclaim, it was named a book of the year by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. But as many critics noted, Moshfegh is particularly held in awe for her short stories. Homesick for Another World is the rare case where an author’s short story collection is if anything more anticipated than her novel.
And for good reason. There’s something eerily unsettling about Ottessa Moshfegh’s stories, something almost dangerous, while also being delightful, and even laugh-out-loud funny. Her characters are all unsteady on their feet in one way or another; they all yearn for connection and betterment, though each in very different ways, but they are often tripped up by their own baser impulses and existential insecurities. Homesick for Another World is a master class in the varieties of self-deception across the gamut of individuals representing the human condition. But part of the unique quality of her voice, the echt Moshfeghian experience, is the way the grotesque and the outrageous are infused with tenderness and compassion. Moshfegh is our Flannery O’Connor, and Homesick for Another World is her Everything That Rises Must Converge or A Good Man is Hard to Find. The flesh is weak; the timber is crooked; people are cruel to each other, and stupid, and hurtful. But beauty comes from strange sources. And the dark energy surging through these stories is powerfully invigorating. We’re in the hands of an author with a big mind, a big heart, blazing chops, and a political acuity that is needle-sharp. The needle hits the vein before we even feel the prick.” — Goodreads
By bringing us so deeply into her characters’ heads, Moshfegh transmutes disgust into love, or, if not love exactly, the next best thing to love—understanding. — Isaac Fitzgerald
From the Editor-in-Chief, Paris Close: Okay, so this month wasn’t as stiff as I’d imagined it would be. My final contenders were Homesick for Another World, Lucky You and The Most Dangerous Place on Earth. I opted out of looking into which judges on the panel this month, so as not to be biased to the ever-so clever Liberty Hardy. Instead, I read the synopsis and made my decision from there, which is exactly what I should be doing… (Sorry, just so used to Liberty’s picks being spot-on with what I like to read.)
This month is a bit more challenging seeing as I don’t have any free book credits; this is like the American Idol of books for me because Moshfegh, Johnson and Carter’s works all seem really intriguing and hard to pass up on. Ugh. In my mind, I’ve narrowed it down to Lucky You and Homesick because the former teeters on the gamut of emotional hardships that plague women (a trope I’ve become inexplicably interested in as of late) and the latter is a short story collection that rests in the realm of twist-lit, which I yearn for.
With that being said, I’m putting my trust and confidence in Isaac Fitzgerald’s Homesick for Another Planet. Telling from the reviews I’ve read paired with the staggering reputation Moshfegh has created for her work with Eileen (another familiar story I kept hearing about on Book Tube), I’m confident these stories will not disappoint. Plus, they seem like they’re really close to Bonnie Jo Campbell‘s Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, which became a favorite of mine last year.
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