Book of the Month Club is a new thing for me, but it’s one I love. It’s a happy little indulgence all my own. I joined in February on a whim, though the subscription book club has been present in my life as far back as high school, when I read Catcher in the Rye, which was a Book of the Month Club (BOTM) selection in 1951. I joined because on of my favorite people, the reading goddess and fellow Book Riot contributor Liberty Hardy (blogger at Franzen Comes Alive) is a regular judge for them, and I’ll read anything she endorses.
Let me break it down for you what exactly Book of the Month Club entails.
How it works…
Every month, usually on the first of the month, the selections for the month are announced. There are always four to pick from, a mix between fiction and nonfiction, with at least one selection of each. The books are chosen by guest judges. You have until the 6th of the month to finalize your selection. You can also choose up to two more books from the present month’s selections or past selections to add on at $9.99 each. Then the books are mailed to you in a gorgeous box.
You have time to read the book and participate online. This is especially fun when the book is a thriller or book with lots of discussion points, plot twists, shocking and outrageous revelations, or is an all around eye opener. It’s amazing because it’s fully asynchronous, so if you’re like me and it’s hard to get to book club in person once a month, this is perfect because the discussion is always going. You can join in and leave a comment if you had insomnia one night and you finished the book at 3 in the morning. Fix yourself a cup of tea and go to book club—in your pajamas. And the books they choose are always great.
Speaking of which…
The June Book of the Month selections announced this week, so let me introduce them to you.
Let’s go left to right.
Book of the Month June Selections:
What Will You Read This Month?
Selection 1: Shrill
There’s Shrill by Lindy West (Judge: Joel Stein). Judge Joel Stein is an American journalist who has written for the LA Times and Time magazine. Stein also wrote Man Made: In Which a Dad Learns to Be a Man for His Son. West is a noted young feminist voice, and Shrill is about finding one’s place as a feminist in a world that is not always welcoming to women who don’t fit pop culture and society’s idea of a woman (meaning: dainty, delicate, quiet, agreeable).
Shrill sneaks up on you with its feminism. Even though the title might have you think it’s a loud and abrasive, that’s kind of the point because West shows that feminism can be subtle and all about the nuances. She recognizes the moments where feminism is loudest are actually the tiniest beats. Joel Stein wrote a book about masculinity. Seeing as he’ll be leading the discussion on BOTM, it should be interesting to see how a man who studied Guys interprets Lindy West’s unapologetically feminist memoir and essay collection.
Selection 2: Modern Lovers
Next up, let’s talk about Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (Judge: Morgan Jerkins). Book of the Month usually includes One Big Literary Book of the Month, and Modern Lovers is definitely that book. I was counting down the days until it arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday, May 31st, (not through BOTM but through a pre-order I placed on Amazon aaaages ago). Excitement hit a fever pitch, with the New York Times featuring author Emma Straub’s Sunday routine on May 20, her growth as a writer in a profile on May 26, and the favorable review from fickle Michiko Kakutani on May 31, release day. This book was eeevvverywhere. And not for no reason! Her novel is about a group of friends as they grow older and realize, holy heck, we’re not in our teens or twenties anymore. We have to Grow Up now.
Coming from Straub, author of the hit novel, The Vacationers, this novel that perfectly captures that ennui of aging and the evolution of friendships over time, you can bet on finding a bit of yourself in the novel, a lot of laughs, and the pleasure of reading something that’s enjoyable and also smart, one of the main Literary It Books of the summer. Pack it on vacation, devour it in a staycation…pick it up. And the guest judge for this is Morgan Jerkins, who is a bit of a literary wunderkind herself, a writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Book Riot (hey, Book Riot!), The New York Times, The Atlantic…okay, need I go on, and announce that she’s only in her twenties…and a person of color (One thing BOTM does really, really well is highlight diverse voices as judges and book selections…more on that later!).
(By the way, that coupon code for 30% off can be found by clicking on this link: 30% off 3-Month Book of the Month Membership with code SUMMER30)
Selection 3: The Veins of the Ocean
All right, moving right along to selection 3, Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel (Guest Judge: Roxane Gay). This is going to be good. This is going to be so good. Are you going to the Caribbean or somewhere in the South Atlantic (maybe Florida?) this summer? Then pick up Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel. This novel is evocative and deliciously lyrical, but it’s also dead serious and profound, asking questions that matter and raising issues that bubble beneath the surface of the resort areas, as if you stepped off the cruise ship and walked around asking for the locals’ advice. It’s very atmospheric. Okay, so why don’t I tell you what it’s about instead of just talking in vague terms, right, Sarah?
In The Veins of the Ocean, a woman, Reina, recovers from the loss of her brother, who was imprisoned for throwing a baby off a bridge, a crime that Reina feels partially guilty for. Released from the burden of having to stay by her brother’s side, Reina moves to a community in southern Florida where she meets a cast of characters who have tragedies of their own. If you’re interested in a novel that shows compassion and brutal realism, and aren’t we all?, and is escapism in it transports you elsewhere, select The Veins of the Ocean this month. And a word about the judge. You know who Roxane Gay is even if you don’t. She wrote the essay collection Bad Feminist, a New York Times-bestseller. She’s also done a lot of public speaking and has a kick ass Tumblr, which spans subjects as diverse as Outlander recaps, slow cooker/crock pot observations, and faith, body image, and feminism. Remember when I said BOTM promotes feminism and diversity? Roxane Gay is yet another awesome addition to the judging panel.
Selection 4: Before the Fall
Okay, I’ve admitted it already. I have a reading bookworm crush on Liberty Hardy, my reading idol (fangirl alert! fangirl alert!). She reads like 400 books a year, and no, that’s not an exaggeration. Last year she Tweeted her best 100 books she read that year…yeah, the best 100. So ever onwards! I almost always pick her BOTM selection because I know she’d never fail me with her selection. And this month, I have to agree with her. This month, the fourth selection is Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Judge: Liberty Hardy) because I’ve already read an Advanced Review Copy of the novel. You might have heard of Noah Hawley, a bit of a boy=genius kind of guy. He created the FX miniseries/anthology series, Fargo. I loved that show so hard in Season 1, which featured the bleak midwestern landscapes and the crime there (it’s an adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, one of my favorite movies of all time, and also the Coen Brothers’ movies in general). Season 2 was equally fantastic (and who doesn’t want to watch Patrick Wilson for 10 hours? Amiright?). So what sets Fargo apart from most TV is the writing is fantastic, like so high above everything on TV (most things, anyway).
And Before the Fall is his latest thriller. I’ve read it, and I can tell you it’s what you want to pack for the beach this summer (or again, that staycation…). It’s a riveting, edge-of-your-seat mystery about a plane crash and its aftermath. It was a private jet with many wealthy billionaires on board, people who showed one face to the world, and hid the other. After the crash, the two sole survivors—a painter and a kid—are caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous plot and potential conspiracy, a coverup that reaches to the top of the wealthy world, and possibly the United States…This novel questions how much you really know about the people you trust, and makes you doubt at every turn whether or not you’re one step away from death, or one step away from exposing society’s wrongs. Because was the plane crash an unfortunate accident—or a carefully planned hit job? I will say no more…(Except, my review will follow on this blog!).
Selection 5: Enchanted Islands
So you let’s say none of the above four selections are your cup of tea. Maybe you’re looking for something that transports you somewhere tropical, like the Galapagos Islands? Tropical enough for you? Okay, great! Well good thing this fifth BOTM selection has you covered: Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend (Judge: Alexander Chee). This novel is about lots of things. Among them: feminism, marriage, exploration, betrayal, forgiveness, the beauty and sublime setting of the Galapagos Islands, and Duluth, Minnesota (which was featured prominently in Season 1 of Fargo, by the way!).
It takes place in the 1850s as a married couple in Duluth split and reunite decades later. They may not have gotten over their differences yet, but this time they’ve got to pull it together as intelligence operatives sent on assignment in the Galapagos. If you’re wondering if this is a bit like the FX show The Americans, you’re not the only one experiencing deja vu. Bonus: the judge is Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night, and other awesome things. He’s a regular judge for Book of the Month and brings some diverse-male energy, and also refined literary palate, to the table. He’s another surefire pick for BOTM selections. It’s hard to go wrong with this novel.
So, sign me up for Book of the Month Club!
Okay! I think I’ve convinced you. Book of the Month Club brings a retro-vintage chic take to the book club and reader’s advisory table. In fact, my grandparents were members. It’s fun, a great value, and they always pick interesting things highlighting themes of diversity, feminism, literature, and culture.
So how do you join?
Here’s the payment plan.
1-month plan = $16.99 per month
3-month plan = $14.99 per book, or $44.97
12-month plan = $11.99 per book, or $143.88
But I’ve got a deal for you Broke By Books readers, because I love you, and because I know you’d have fun with this, and because I only promote products and websites and services I personally endorse.
So, here’s the deal: that coupon code for 30% off can be found by clicking on this link: 30% off 3-Month Book of the Month Membership with code SUMMER30.
It’s good through June 31st.
If you join by June 22, you can get your June selection (and with selections as good as these this month, I know I’ll be picking two more additional books for $9.99 each. Not bad for a hardcover new release!
I’ll be featuring BOTM every month with a preview of the selections. I’ll also post discussion guides and reviews for the book(s) I choose.
And if you got to the bottom of this article, you might be wondering how to get these novels if you don’t opt-in for a membership. Here are some links:
- Shrill by Lindy West: Amazon link
- Modern Lovers by Emma Straub: Amazon link
- The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel: Amazon link
- Before the Fall by Noah Hawley: Amazon link
- Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend: Amazon link