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Read This Book: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that I think you absolutely must read. The books will vary across genre and age category to include new releases, backlist titles, and classics. If you’re ready to explode your TBR, buckle up!

This week’s pick is a hilarious and thoughtful read from Ben Philiipe! If you’re unfamiliar with his YA novels and adult essay collection, perhaps you’ve heard of a little show called Only Murders in the Building? He’s also a writer on the first season! Let’s dive in!

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New Releases

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Henri is a Haitian American teen living in New York City. He attends a fancy private high school on scholarship and lives in a really nice apartment building on the Upper West Side…because his dad is the super. He’s got big goals and dreams of getting into Columbia, which would send his parents over the moon. The only issue? Living in New York is expensive. College is expensive. Enter: Henri’s side gig. He created and runs an app for a dog walking service, and walks dogs himself, essentially double dipping on the service and earning tips. It’s a pretty benign hustle in the grand scheme of things, but when he’s found out by Corrine, an intense classmate who happens to live in his building, she promises to keep his secret…if he helps her elevate her social status to become a well-rounded candidate for college recommendation letters.

I really loved this book a lot because first of all, it’s really, really funny. I know that humor can be. subjective thing in books, but Philippe is a truly funny writer who uses jokes and humor to poke fun at and explore larger and more complex issues, such as racial injustice, classism, and the challenges that Henri’s family faces as Haitian immigrants. But there are also lots of pop culture references and genuinely funny moments that truly help break things up! I also really enjoyed that this book is a sneaky exploration of how far you have to go to achieve your dreams and the ethical quandaries that arise. Henri lives in an unjust world and is working within an unjust system—there’s no doubt about that. While he’s generally a good person and fairly honest, he does engage in some deception and dishonesty to get where he wants to be, and he’s forced to truly reckon with that in a big way when his choices have consequences that extend beyond him. I loved that this book swings from funny moments to serious ones, and that Henri and the reader really think about the impact that one person’s choices can have and how difficult it can be to get ahead when the world is stacked against you. Plus, there’s a great slow-burn romance at the center that is really sweet to behold!

Cover of The Singles Table

The Singles Table by Sara Desai

After a terrible break-up, Zara makes a new rule to only be the matchmaker and not the matched. One wedding, she is sat at the same table as Jay, and they strike up a bargain; if he introduces her to his celebrity clients, she will find him his perfect match. However, as the spend the wedding season together, they begin to wonder if they’re avoiding the happily ever after staring them in the face.

Bonus: I listened to the audiobook, narrated by James Fouhey, and it was excellent!

Happy reading,
Tirzah

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