5 Books You Need To Add To Your Nightstand This Month
October's recommended reading covers some snappy cultural criticism, redemption for a feminist icon, a much-anticipated novel from a Pulitzer Prize winner, and life advice from two of the most respected female leaders in the world.
Wondering what to read as our days start getting a little shorter, the air starts getting a little crisper, and you're already two caffeinated beverages away from being completely sick of pumpkin spice?
Check out our staff picks below for an eclectic mix of books that have captivated our brains as of late.
And for you hardcore bookworms out there: Be sure to join in for our first-ever Girlboss Book Club pick, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, which you can read about here and join the convo by using #GirlbossBookClub.
Razor-sharp Nagle has gone where no one should: Plunging the darkest depths of online subcultures to begin to answer the question of, “How did we get here?” She examines how reactionary online subcultural discourse flipped the script of ‘60s era transgression—which centered around liberal cultural movements like “free love, man!”—and redefined rule-breaking as something far less progressive.
A quick and dirty read for history heads, pop-culture nerds, and anyone just trying to understand WTF the "alt right" is. Spoiler: 4chan and Reddit groups are not cool about women and feminism.
Chelsea Jones, Social Media Strategist
I was a complete and utter fangirl for Egan’s last novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011; it was a stunning feat of immersion, taking the reader in and out of numerous points of view that at times brushes shoulders, at others, full-on collides.
Her much-anticipated new novel is a stark departure from the innovative footwork of her last. Set in the midst of WWII, the narrative follows Anna Kerrigan, a bright and rebellious young woman who works in the Brooklyn Naval Yards by way of answering the country’s wartime needs.
As a young girl, Anna’s father disappeared in the wake of his mysterious business goings-on, and when a man from her father’s mysterious past reemerges, Anna gets caught up in a dangerous trajectory. Stylistically, the story feels oddly traditional and straightforward for Egan, though it’s an engaging one nonetheless.
Deena Drewis, Editor
Malcolm's rigorously researched history of Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the ongoing chaos that has followed since her passing, is an incredible read that reestablished my interested in Plath.
It's been ages since I read The Bell Jar, but Malcolm’s detailed breakdown of the mystery and misinformation delivered through one of the most famous biographies of Plath was so compelling that I picked up her only novel again. It's fascinating and voyeuristic; Malcolm's voice reads as the ultimate authority on the subject.
Chloe Parks, Art Director
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg
I've only just started the book, but I find Sandberg's research and insight on the topic of tragedy and loss very helpful in the healing process as a whole. I lost a family member not too long ago, and it can be a messy, uncomfortable, lonely and scary experience. This book oddly brings comfort in hearing someone else share their real, personal story full of emotion and vulnerability.
If you or a loved one has ever felt deep, earth-wrenching grief and sadness, then this book is something I'd highly recommend. Sandberg explains that your perfect "option A" life is no longer possible—you can't go back—so you must move on to "option B" and let that ride out in the best way you can.
Maggie Renshaw, Executive Assistant
I just finished this book and am anxiously waiting for a cadre of my closest, cross-country girlfriends to hurry up and finish so we can have FaceTime-and-wine book club. I have a lot to say about it, and my feelings are mixed.
Full disclosure: I am a Hillary supporter. I was a Hillary supporter when she was in fighting for health care as first lady, and when she was a freshman senator from New York forging cross-the-aisle relationships that seemed really surprising for a woman whose last name inspired a cottage industry of hate. I haven’t always loved her on foreign policy, but I thought she represented America like a seasoned diplomat in her post as Secretary of State. And I really wanted her to be president.
Partially because I thought she was the best, most experienced person for the job—and partially because I wanted to see a woman become president of the United States. I wanted to live in a country that could elect a brilliant woman who was truly informed about every issue that faced this country.
That felt like proof that we had become the type of progressive society I dreamed of living in—it felt like planting a flag of possibility for women and girls across the country who might have felt less visible, less heard, and less respected in a hundred tiny and not-so-tiny ways every day, simply because of the makeup of their chromosomes. But obviously, we’re not quite as progressive as I might have believed we were a year ago.
I had the privilege of sitting down to interview Secretary Clinton not once, but twice, during the campaign. The thing that struck me in both of those instances, beyond the brilliance and the depth and nuance of knowledge, was the humanity with which she was able to connect. This isn’t something that is often said about Hillary Clinton, but she felt warm and real when we sat down one-on-one for a focused 30 minutes.
She even felt “relatable” in a way people seem to need politicians to be—and in the way that I always wanted her to be when she was giving her stump speech. She was never able to make that connection with large rooms of people—not really, until the day she gave the powerful, emotional concession speech that broke my heart.
That speech, and that sense of who she was in person, was what I was hoping to get in this book—but much more amplified and much more real. Sometimes, she delivers it. Other times, you feel she’s giving you the air quotes unfiltered version of herself that she knows we want, but has spent far too long learning to hide, behind a veneer of professionalism and competence. She’s most honest when she talks about her pain and her marriage. But when she talks about the failings of her campaign or the meaningful challenges she faced in the primary, you feel like you are getting begrudging rhetoric.
All in all, much like Hillary (and most of us), this book is imperfect. I couldn’t have not read it, because I needed to know what she said. But at the same time, part of me wishes I hadn’t reopened that wound again. Because it freaking hurts.
But more importantly, because dwelling in the past isn’t going to help any of us—we have fresh fights to face down today, about health care, gun control, the right to protest, the freedom of the press, and in places like Puerto Rico, the right to basic life-giving essentials like food, water, and power. And that’s just what’s top of mind today.
Neha Gandhi, Editor-in-Chief