The tastemakers

It’s July 1, which means Book of the Month released their new selections this morning.

I adore Book of the Month and I’m always excited to hear their five selections on the first. (This post contains my affiliate link but is not sponsored; I’m a happy paying customer.) It’s been such a fun discovery this spring, and I’ve found several amazing books thanks to them—books I might not have heard of otherwise. And unlike the Book of the Month Club from the old days, I get to choose which book I want, or take a pass for the month if nothing strikes my fancy.

Every month usually brings one or two Big New Books that I’m seeing everywhere, and a few sleepers I probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.

Book of the month july tote bag sunnies
Will was nearby when I first glimpsed this month’s selections, and I piqued his curiosity with my loud Oh, of course.

Of course what? 

I was thinking of Rich and Pretty, specifically. It’s brand new, it’s a debut, and it’s everywhere. It feels very of-the-moment. It’s about friendship, money, NYC.

I wasn’t surprised to see Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney—author of The Nest—was the judge who chose this selection: the two novels complement each other nicely.

The title is perfect, the cover is terrific. Maybe this is why—we speculated—it’s been chosen as one of the few dozen novels each season that its publisher has decided to throw its weight behind.

Not all titles get equal treatment. Every season, a select few novels—and even fewer debuts—get this kind of support. Why was this one chosen, and how? It’s a fascinating, nerdy question.

I enjoyed this book—although I’m not sure “enjoyed” is the right word, exactly—when I read it back in the spring. I appreciated its nuanced look at a complicated female friendship. I read it quickly; I found it absorbing. But the twenties are bumpy years, and these women’s lives especially so, and it was a little painful to accompany them on their journeys. (It was supposed to be.)

I debated including this in the Summer Reading Guide: I put it in, I took it out, I put it in again. (In the end, I took it out.) I initially called it one of the 13 books everyone will be talking about this summer (because boy, are they ever). Then I took it out before I hit “publish.”

I appreciated this book—and oh, would it ever make a wonderful book club novel—but it was THE book that inspired the original 8-line edit and in the end I didn’t feel comfortable throwing my weight (light as it may be) behind this one.

Another novel that’s everywhere: The Girls. Another debut getting the royal treatment, and this one is certainly scandalous enough to make waves: it’s loosely based on the Manson cult and gruesome murders. I’ve already abandoned it—twice. Ambitious writing, stylized prose, but that 8 line edit concept? I might need to cut 80 pages to make it through this one. (But it’s worth pointing out that some of you will LOVE it.)

The big surprise of the July selections is Sleeping Giants, a book I never, and I mean never, would have picked up on my own. It’s a sci fi novel whose premise is pretty out there and wow, was it fun. Wild premise, interesting structure, great narrative drive. I finished last night and I am still thinking about the epilogue. (Bonus: can you spot the character who sounds exactly like Ray Reddington?)

This isn’t one of the big, big books of the season, but I’ve found I consistently enjoy Liberty Hardy’s picks, and I trusted her and went with it. I’m glad I did.

Reading is supposed to be fun, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be smart about it. I pay attention to how I discover a book—a blog post, my bookstore, a friend’s recommendation, but I don’t often pause to consider the backstory to how it got thrown in my path.

Back to Book of the Month: this is a nice time to sign up because new members will get free sunglasses and a tote to lug all your books around. Click here to get started and use the code SUMMER30 to get those extras and save 30% off your three-month membership. That means you’ll get the first three books for just $10 each.

Not sure what to get? I’ve read all five titles, and I would actually recommend Rich and Pretty, with a whole bunch of caveats. And if you’ve read The One-in-a-Million Boy, Love That Boy makes for a very interesting companion read. (Imagine Quinn, in an alternate reality.)


Leave A Comment
  1. Greg says:

    Just requested Sleeping Giants from our county’s library system. Thank you for the recommendation. May try downloading it to the new Kindle Paperwhite as my first attempt at downloading to it. Have the weekend to learn how. Instructions from the library appear to be somewhat narrative instead of distinct steps. Thanks for the recommendation on the Paperwhite too.

  2. Theresa says:

    Thanks for the update! I joined BOTM club last month at your recommendation. I think I’m going to choose Sleeping Giants this month since it sounds so interesting to me (though I’m going to have to consider reading Rich and Pretty later) and it was actually the selection they picked for me. I can already tell I like Liberty Hardy’s recommendations.

    I picked up After the Fall, I Let You Go and No One Knows last month since they were on your Summer reading guide. I love that you can add books for only $9.99 each. I’m looking at past months too for future $9.99 additions. Have you read Enchanted Islands(I love the cover), the Moor’s Account, Queen of the Night or Mitch Albom’s new novel?

    • Anne says:

      I have Enchanted Islands but I haven’t read it yet. I intend to read The Moor’s Account but haven’t gotten there yet. I do have it though, through BOTM, and my husband already read it and loved it. I read three pages of Queen of the Night when I checked it out from the library and the length felt a little daunting, and the timing wasn’t right to push through.

  3. Kate says:

    I’m reading The One in a Million Boy right now and enjoying it immensely. I downloaded the sample of The Girls and it didn’t grab me–I was paying more attention to the writing than the story.

  4. Cindy McMahon says:

    This is my favorite of all your posts because of the in-depth examination of each book. I love your honesty about just how close to “good” or “not-quite-good-enough” a book is. I like when a reviewer tells me the reasons they aren’t as enthusiastic about one book as another, but with caveats like “If Ender’s Game is your favorite novel of all time, you will absolutely love it.”

  5. Ashley V says:

    Can you offer any input regarding language in these books? That’s one of the biggest reasons I will quit a book-profanity or crude language. I’m not very put off by gore (maybe I should be?), but profanity and racy scenes are deal breakers!

  6. Mary Kate says:

    Thanks for reinforcing my decision to skip “The Girls”. It sounded intriguing but then people kept comparing it to The Virgin Suicides, which is one of the few books I’ve powered my way through and then regretted doing so. That book was short but it just dragged on and on and on, nothing much happened, just a lot of morbid and depressing musings. I hate insulting beautiful writing, but I just want to say, hey, how about a plot?

  7. Liesl says:

    I was originally going to go with Missing, Presumed, and then I read the description for Sleeping Giants and decide to give that one a try! I too have enjoyed Liberty Hardy’s picks (some more than others), so I’m excited to get this one in time for vacation!

  8. Jackie says:

    I received an email that stated if you use the code JULY35 you get 35% off 3 month membership plus the sunglasses and tote bag.

      • Anna says:

        Great to hear!! I’m new to your site and your podcast and so far I’m loving it!! I’ve been listening to your podcast for hours in work ( I’m a gardener in Denmark, so it’s just me, flowers and books at the moment).and it’s been super inspiring. I’ve bought over ten books this week ?, most of them from your recommendations! So, thanks!

  9. Jenn says:

    I’m curious what you thought of Missing, Presumed. You said you read all five but didn’t comment on that one. It’s the one tempting me the most this month, but would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Anne says:

      I thought it sounded really promising. It didn’t grab me when I sat down with it, but I persevered only so I could review it here, and then I didn’t really feel like it was worth going into it. I wanted my five hours back.

      What I did like about it: interesting premise, good resolution plot-wise (although structurally I felt like the author cheated a bit), interesting juxtaposition of several women at different stages of their lives who are wrestling through similar issues.

      I read a lot of these procedurals (which surprises me about myself) and this isn’t a standout. The heroine is also distinctly unlikable in ways that I’m certain MMD readers are NOT going to like.

      • Kelli says:

        I was just about to ask what you thought about this, and decided to check the comments first – glad it came up! I’ve been thinking about getting it this month but then it seems similar to my last 2 picks of No One Knows and Before the Fall (though I haven’t had time to read either yet, so may be completely wrong). I generally trust Liberty Hardy, though not sure about Sleeping Giants….so now I don’t know what to do 🙂

  10. Kim says:

    I skipped this month. I was most intrigued by Missing, Presumed but decided it wasn’t a must read. I may pick up Sleeping Giants from the library. It’s totally not my style but it sounds interesting, and I tend to like Liberty Hardy’s picks. It seems like Rich and Pretty is getting very mediocre reviews. I wonder if that’s partially because it’s being pushed so hard.

    I’m currently reading The Girls but it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. I suspect I’m far less conservative than the average MMD reader, so I’m not too worried about the 8 line edit aspect.

  11. Erica M. says:

    I’m curious how you felt about “Love That Boy”, Anne. You mentioned above that you didn’t read every page. Was it just not that interesting? That was the one that I was first drawn to, but I hadn’t heard of it before.

      • Kerry says:

        I bought Love that Boy and read it in one sitting… I love the presidency and American history and my son is autistic… Home run right? The author made me cringe the way he regarded his son and this “guilt trip” I enjoyed the cameo of George Bush who came across as very mannerly.

  12. Leigh Kramer says:

    I’d already chosen Rich and Pretty but now I’m extra curious about what those 8 lines will be. Also, I hope you’ll persevere with The Girls because I thought it was fantastic, albeit in a haunting way.

  13. Leslie says:

    I won Love That Boy in s Goodreads giveaway and loved it. I might get Sleeping Giants or skip this month. I really appreciate your 8 line edit warnings. I am starting to see what you meant when you said that many of the buzzy modern novels are seeming the same in this way. I’m not really a fan of this trend.

  14. Theresa says:

    agree!! I need 8 line edit warnings. I feel like there has been way too much unnecessary graphic sex and violence and language in books lately. Ugh! It ruins the story for me.

  15. Christina says:

    This post affirms my choice of Love That Boy. I skipped last month because I was so into TOMB! Between that, trying to squeeze in reading to my kids and Alllllll the summer activities we have- it’s a wonder I can get through any book! I’ll be interested to see what next month’s selections will be, I love the whole idea around BOTM club but I’m wondering if their choices just aren’t my cup of tea. Or maybe I’m too conservative. Or wimpy. Or have too many other books holding up my nightstand. Always love hearing your thoughts, Anne. And I’m loving the podcasts- which I only recently discovered!

    • Mary says:

      My thinking is along the same line as yours, Christina.
      I do not think you are wimpy but I feel you have standards that you hold closely.

  16. Melanie says:

    There have been soooo many NYC, money-centered new releases lately. Maybe those kinds of book have always been out there, but my American Studies-trained brain would love to dig deeper into this trend. We’ve heard a lot about the 1% and income disparity and Wall Street over the past several years and I think there’s a general fascination/disgust with the moneyed elite.

  17. So interesting to think about how and why books end up being “big.” I know I’ll skip The Girls (not my bag at all) but I didn’t expect to like The Nest and I really enjoyed it. Thought-provoking as always, Anne!

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