StyleBistro Book Club: August 2014
Peruse our picks from this month's new releases, then shop the beauty and fashion finds inspired by our chosen reads.
We're bookworms here at StyleBistro, and we understand that finding your next great read can sometimes be as frustrating as searching for a special-occasion outfit—they never seem to materialize when you actually need one. We also know how inspiring the written word can be, which is why we combed through this month's new releases and paired our top picks with a beauty or fashion item that corresponds to each tome. Be sure to check back each month for a fresh batch of stylish reads.
Katie Davidson, Associate Editor: Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay ($16, out August 5 from Harper Perennial)
Being called a feminist can have a negative connotation, but in her latest book, Roxanne Gay asserts it's not the movement that's flawed but rather its advocates—they are only humans, after all. Describing herself as a "bad feminist," Gay explores her beliefs on women, as well as race, although she makes it clear that her worldview is not perfect. In fact, her favorite color is pink, and she's not ashamed of it. Learning about the writer, professor and Scrabble player through essays written throughout her career, we find it only fitting she finally gets an accessory suited for her favorite pastime (in case you didn't know, competitive Scrabble players come well-equipped with their own gear, including fanny packs containing personal tile racks and other board-game essentials)—naturally in her "feminine" signature shade of pink.
Kristina Rodulfo, Associate Editor: One Kick by Chelsea Cain ($16, out August 19 from Simon & Schuster)
Kit "Kick" Lannigan had no ordinary childhood. She was kidnapped at six by an infamous child-pornography supplier and rescued five years later during a dramatic FBI break-in. Family life never returned to normal with a fame-obsessed mother exploiting her painful past and a father who left after her return. All Kit could rely on was herself. She masters self-defense by learning boxing, knife throwing, martial arts and escape methods everywhere from handcuffs to car trunks. These unmatched skills get her unexpectedly intertwined on a mission to unravel more missing children cases near her Portland, Oregon, home. What follows is a thrilling, suspenseful chain of events full of mystery and action—and that's just the beginning of this new series. One of her most prized possessions is a Glock pistol, so this pair of gun-shaped earrings seemed to fit the bill: small but dangerous.
Cristina Velocci, Deputy Editor: The Roommates: True Tales of Friendship, Rivalry, Romance and Disturbingly Close Quarters by Stephanie Wu ($16, out August 5 from Picador Original)
This short-story compilation is the second in a new series called Picador True Tales, which taps journalists to curate first-person anecdotes about a thematically tied common role (the first edition was The Bridesmaids by former Condé Nast Traveler editor Eimear Lynch). In this compendium, Town & Country editor Stephanie Wu explores the rite of passage known as sharing one's living space with strangers, and many of the narratives chronicle exactly what you'd expect: bed bugs, kleptomania, passive aggressiveness and even unwelcome nudity. While many of the stories are recounted by 20- and 30-year-olds, the diverse living situations go far beyond your typical city apartment or school dorm (among the unusual settings are a yacht, an RV and Top Chef's contestant housing). Unless you've lived in solitary confinement your entire time on earth, you'll be able to relate—and commiserate—with these entertaining tales. The book obviously makes a great gift for anyone about to sign a lease, so to sweeten the deal, we paired it with Dormify's roommate survival kit, which includes earplugs, a tongue-in-cheek citation pad, bathroom freshener and a quippy magnet—all of which should ameliorate dealing with a less-than-desirable living partner.
Ann Brady, Executive Editor: Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner ($18, out August 26 from Scholastic/Point)
We're all well aware that we live in an era where there's such a thing as internet fame. Just like any kind of celebrity, these digital stars' lives are not like the rest. Torrey Grey is famous for her beauty vlogs and her viewers want to know everything—not to mention they want to be her. When tragedy strikes her sister, quite possibly due to her fame, Grey deals with the unspeakable pains that occur—all while in spotlight. Should she cower away from what has brought her so much heartache but also personal joy? She faces these fears instead of brushing them aside and shows us how to deal with transition gracefully. Speaking of brushing, the MAC 224 Tapered Blending Brush ($32) happens to be one of her favorites.
Caitlin Miller, Associate Editor: My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking & Going With Your Gut ($23, out August 12 from Harper Collins)
I'm one of those people who can kind of cook. And by kind of, I mean I mastered about four recipes, and now I'm calling it good. But that's precisely why I turned to Hannah Hart, YouTube sensation and star of the video series "My Drunk Kitchen." If you've seen Hart's hilarious videos, you know she's got a cooking style all her own. While creating foods such as popcorn, pizza and taquitos, Hart downs a beer or two and dishes some sweet life advice. In her first book, Hart combines her quick wit with simple-to-follow recipes for cooks like me, along with drink pairings (because who doesn't want to know what cocktail goes with a peanut butter and jelly and potato chip sandwich?), heartwarming anecdotes and life lessons. After dog-earring several pages in the book, I ran across my new go-to recipe: the Pizza Cake, aka four or five pizzas layered together to form a delicious layer cake of pizza. After salivating while reading Hart's recipe (and agreeing with her life lesson of "sometimes you really can have it all"), I couldn't help but picture myself repping my own love of pizza with a T-shirt that says it all. Love and pizza. Now that's a match made in heaven. Or at least my kitchen.
Bethany Cantor, Style Editor: Flings: Stories by Justin Taylor ($13, out August 19 from HarperCollins Publishers)
I used to avoid reading short stories at all costs. To me, reading was about getting lost in nice thick novel and learning about the characters chapter by chapter. However, a few years ago I happened to read a grouping of tales by Jhumpa Lahiri and then and there, my opinion completely altered. Now, I view each little story as an appetizer for the imagination, meant to either tease and entice thought or to simply show one aspect of human nature. Justin Taylor's new collection of short stories, Flings, is lovely in this regard. There are coming-of-age tales and those meant to teach lessons; there are also those that provoke thought and leave you wanting more. My favorite of his literary morsels is called Carol, Alone, the story of an elderly woman struggling to rediscover who she is in the wake of her husband's death and who one day discovers an alligator in her backyard. This particular story inspired my product pick for this book—a gorgeous faux-alligator bag. Taylor's character, Carol, struck a cord with me. After all, at some point we've all struggled to remind ourselves of who we are and Carol's particular way of coping is very interesting. You'll have to read the story and the rest of the book for all of the juicy details.
Want even more book-and-product pairings? Make sure to check out our July selections in the slideshow below: