I recently finished a book called Sharp by Michelle Dean, and in the weeks since, I can’t seem to shut up about it. No matter the topic and without trying, something I absorbed from the book finds its way into my conversations — even the ones I have with myself. That’s my favorite kind of book. Last week, for this round of MR Book Club, I asked the team about what books they can’t stop thinking about, talking about and recommending to friends. Scroll down to read what they told me, and then tell me your answer in the comments.
Recommended by: Haley, Deputy Editor
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: Sharp profiles 10 female writers who rose to prominence in the 20th century and made careers out of being fearlessly opinionated (as the title suggests). Although it only delves into a certain slice of writers — particularly those in the New York publishing scene — it weaves their narratives together seamlessly, exploring their relationships to the public and to each other in an incredibly engrossing way.
Why she loved it: I let this sit on my bookshelf for a while before I cracked it, and I’m so glad I finally did. I ripped through it like a good novel and found so much fascination and comfort within its pages. It gave me a lot to think about in regards to the current states of feminism, culture and media. It also made me feel brave and ready to have an opinion of my own.
How she heard about it: My boyfriend gave it to me when I was going through a hard time with my writing, doubting whether I had any any talent or anything meaningful to contribute with my voice. It was the perfect gift.
Recommended by: Harling, Fashion Editor
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: It’s the story of a marriage that falls victim to racial injustice, specifically the problem of mass incarceration. I don’t want to say too much more than that, because there’s a big plot twist that happens early on (don’t read the back of the book!).
Why she loved it: This novel delves into topics that range from systematic racism and toxic masculinity to political and philosophical dilemmas. It gripped me from start to finish. I downloaded two more books by Jones the moment I finished.
How she heard about it: It was recommended to me by the iBooks algorithm, which is both fun and creepy.
Recommended by: Crystal, Operations Manager
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: The Terrible tells the story of Yrsa Daley-Wards’s childhood in England. It documents her experience blooming into a woman, exploring her sexual identity and all of the “terrible things” that happen along the way.
Why she loved it: It’s a beautifully written story that somehow feels foreign and totally familiar to me, as a queer woman of color. It’s a raw coming-of-age story that feels different from any I’ve read before. The writing is hauntingly beautiful; it reads like one long poem.
How she heard about it: My girlfriend wanted us to read a book together and she chose it for us.
Recommended by: Nora, Managing Editor
Genre: Illustrated memoir
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: Thi Bui begins looking back at her parents’ lives and her early childhood in Vietnam after the birth of her first child.
Why she loved it: I’m not a regular comic/graphic novel reader, so it was fascinating to see how powerful memoir could be in the medium. You have to distill a lot down to a few words paired with the right image to express the full sentiment. It touches on a fairly universal need to think about the lives your parents led before you were in the picture. It is also a personal account of life during the Vietnam War and what it’s like to settle in a new country. I like a book that makes me feel like I learned something but also highlights just how much I don’t know, which is exactly what this did.
How she heard about it: Saw it at a bookstore in Seattle, picked it up and decided it had to be mine.
Recommended by: Edith, Photographer & Photo Editor
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: A rumination on the passage of time that made me underline multiple paragraphs that seemed relevant to projects I had brewing.
Why she loved it: It was contradictory in the way that it was both gripping but somehow also soothing, which is a both rare and desirable quality in a book.
How she heard about it: An acquaintance Instagrammed a passage from it, which made me want to know more, so I Googled the passage and ordered the book!
Recommended by: Patty, Head of Partnerships
Genre: Speculative fiction. A quote from the author: “People say to me, ‘Ah, your novel is a dystopia.’ And I say … ‘It’s only a dystopia for the men.’ And in my world, nothing happens to a man that is not happening to a woman in the world we live in today. So if we find my world to be a dystopia, then we are already living in a dystopia.”
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: It’s set in a present-day reality where women suddenly acquire a mysterious physical ability that renders them more powerful than men when it comes to sheer bodily force.
Why she loved it: It’s set up as a story about gender, but it is really a story about power itself. Blew my mind.
How she heard about it: A recommendation from a friend, thanks Emily!
Recommended by: Starling, Social Media Intern
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: The novel is set in the ‘80s and follows three Brown University students during their senior year of school and their first year in the real world.
Why she loved it: I first read this book years ago, but having just experienced my own first post-college year, my appreciation for it has been renewed. Eugenides perfectly captures the overwhelming excitement and simultaneous buzzing anxiety that occurs after moving away from a curated campus. It feels validating to read about recent graduates scrambling to rearrange their mindsets outside the context of a classroom in order to form their own opinions on patriotism, religion, mental health and love.
How she heard about it: Eugenides has always been my favorite author.
Recommended by: Jasmin, Director of Partnerships
Synopsis that won’t give away the plot: It’s about a woman named Eleanor who lives a very straightforward life, has a very set routine and rarely veers away from it. From the get-go you think she’s extremely odd, and then the whole story about her past unravels from there. As a reader, from the beginning, I naturally made so many assumptions about her character and even her age, which all changed the deeper I got into the story.
Why she loved it: I haven’t read a novel that I couldn’t put down and couldn’t predict how it would end for a while. The whole story is a very raw depiction of the realities of loneliness and how easy it is to get trapped in a downward spiral without the kindness of others to lift you up.
How she heard about it: From my friend AND her mum.
Photos by Madeline Montoya.