Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson’s parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, they’ve picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. The only problem? This is not the man—or the life—she really wants. When Piper gets the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer. The work is taxing, the scenery jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open up a whole new world to her.
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. Summer is officially upon us and thus, for most of us, warmer temperatures. As I began to dig around my closet for bathing suits recently and then panicked over how I’d look in them, I thought this might be a good time to discuss body image in book club. I have a fiction read, some powerful nonfiction, and then a couple of lighter essay collections that tackle this topic from different angles.
Let’s do it to it, mi gente. To the club!!.
Nibbles and Sips
I started watching Nadiya’s Time to Eat on Netflix and now want to try so many of her quick-and-easy recipes! She makes a gorgeous tarte tatin with bananas and tops it with ice cream that she whipped up in a flash and I’m wondering what I’ve been doing with my life all this time to not make my own ice cream more often. As the weather warms up for many of us, why don’t we all indulge and make ourselves this cool, creamy, delicious treat?
All she does is combine a can of sweetened condensed milk (amen) in a bowl with 500 ml of double cream (or 2 cups + a splash of heavy cream for us American folk) and five crushed cardamom pods, then whips it all together with a hand mixer until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Do this, transfer to a freezer-safe container, level off the top, place inside a ziplock bag and freeze.
Other mix-ins I’m interested in trying: chocolate chips, rose petals with a tiny bit of rose syrup, crushed peppermint candies… possibilities!
We’re Talking Body
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha – This story set in contemporary Seoul tells the connected stories of four women: one whose many cosmetic procedures have landed her a job at one of Seoul’s “room salons” where wealthy men seek drink and the entertainment of women; a New York art school graduate who’s returned to Seoul and now has a super rich Korean boyfriend; a hair stylist obsessed with K-pop and her best friend’s plans for extreme cosmetic surgery; and a newlywed trying to conceive who’s unsure if she can actually afford to raise a child. Dive deep into this examination of class, patriarchy, inequality, and crippling beauty standards.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (TW: rape, eating disorders) – Let’s get one thing straight right away: this is not going to be an easy read. Roxane Gay experienced a horrifying act of sexual violence that changed her life when she was twelve years old. This memoir exposes the red, raw wound of that trauma, examining Gay’s subsequent relationship to food, body hyperconsciousness, and tendencies towards shame and self loathing. There is a lot to discuss here about the relationship between not only trauma and body issues, but also diet culture and how our society handles obesity. Whew. Have the tea or whiskey at the ready!
F*ck Your Diet: And Other Things My Thighs Tell Me by Chloé Hilliard – I added this to my TBR based on that title alone, as I too have heard similar messaging from my thighs. Chloe was a size 12 shoe and wore size 12 clothes when she was 12 years old, and she stood over six feet tall. Cursed with “the fat trilogy” of “slow metabolism, baby weight, and big bones,” young Chloe went down what too many of us will recognize as the familiar path of dieting, food limitation, and extreme exercise to get her body down to a more “appealing” size. Then one day she woke up and basically said, “eff all that noise!” and decided to love herself in a world constantly telling her she needed to change to be desired. I’ve heard from numerous people that the book is hilarious and insightful, a combo I will take any day of the week.
Gross Anatomy by Mara Altman – I love, love, love this book so hard, it’s so funny and just so damn real! It’s a challenge to find “greatness in our grossness,” holding up a magnifying glass to our twisted beliefs and biases and policing of women’s bodies. Why do we feel like we have to pluck, tweeze, and wax every surface of our skin into smooth submission? Why is boob cleavage hot but a camel toe an embarrasment? Why do we hate sweating like it’s not a completely normal and healthy bodily function? Mara asks all of these questions and then attempts to answer them with hilarious personal anecdotes.
Fun fact: The Russian translation of this book is called “Body Trash” and that fact never ceases to tickle me.
For a laugh, check out this Doubleday Book Club ad from 1999. Who else remembers that 7 books for 99 cents thing!?
Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club has selected two books in one month for the first time. I cynically wonder if one of one of these titles was thrown in there sorta last minute for optics, but Reese does have a decent inclusion track record so I’ll calm myself. I’m also not going to knock the effort if it gets more people to read Austin Channing Brown.
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at email@example.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter, catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast, and watch me ramble about even more new books every Tuesday on our YouTube channel.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.