StyleBistro Book Club: September 2014
Peruse our picks from this month's new releases, then shop the beauty and fashion finds inspired by our chosen reads.
We're bookworms here at StyleBistro, and we understand that finding your next great read can sometimes be as frustrating as searching for a special-occasion outfit—they never seem to materialize when you actually need one. We also know how inspiring the written word can be, which is why we combed through this month's new releases and paired our top picks with a beauty or fashion item that corresponds to each tome. Be sure to check back each month for a fresh batch of stylish reads.
Caitlin Miller, Senior Associate Editor: The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan ($26, out September 30 from Henry Holt and Co.)
The friendship formed in The Ploughmen can only be explained by one word: unusual. The book tells the story of the unlikely friendship between John Gload, a 77-year-old hired gunman, and Valentine Millimaki, bottom man at the county sheriff's department. When Gload is finally arrested for his crimes, Millimaki just happens to be working the overnight shift, and thus their friendship begins. The two find themselves bonding, sharing stories and realizing that as different as they are, perhaps their lives are more parallel than they thought. With the Montana landscape haunting the story's background, I can vividly picture Gload and Millimaki wandering the countryside and forming a relationship both with the land and each other. Since I'm such a fan of American literature of the west (I might have been the only high schooler who thoroughly enjoyed A River Runs Through It), I immediately imagined the rugged lives these men might have had. That's why I couldn't think of a better product to pair this reading with than a cowboy hat. This wool one from San Diego Hat Co. ($58) is classic enough for any cowgirl at heart but fashionable for any city slicker.
Cristina Velocci, Deputy Editor: I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich ($28, out September 4 from Penguin Group)
For the past 40 years, Betty Halbreich has been dressing women—everyone from Estee Lauder and Joan Rivers to Park Avenue princesses and wives of Texas oil magnates—as the head of the Solutions personal shopping department at Bergdorf Goodman. Although she herself has always been impeccably dressed, thanks to her innate sense of style, her life hasn’t always been as glamorous as it outwardly appeared. In this memoir, she details her wealthy Chicago upbringing as a lonely only child, her fraught marriage to a philandering society playboy, her half-hearted suicide attempt and subsequent stay at the Payne Whitney psychiatric hospital—and how the ritual of getting dressed helped her get through all of it. Halbreich comes from an era where quality and care were paramount when it came to clothing, and we were left inspired by the way she describes her lingerie being tied into neat bundles with ribbon for storage. In fact, the octogenarian to this day divides categories of clothing (pants, skirts, dresses) in her closet with sachets fashioned from the monogrammed handkerchiefs of her upbringing—an organizational move we plan on copying with these personalized Bstudio versions.
Ann Brady, Executive Editor: What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey ($25, out September 2 from Flatiron Books)
For years, people turned on their television sets daily looking to Oprah Winfrey for insight, compassion and well, answers to all things. Film critic Gene Siskel once asked the legend, "What do you know for sure?" That question spawned a column she penned monthly for 14 years in O, The Oprah Magazine. In this book, the best have been revised, edited and compiled—with sprinklings of commentary and hints to what she is up to now—for those suffering from Oprah withdrawal. The icon once said, "Ask yourself what you know for sure and what you’ll find along the way will be fantastic, because what you’ll find will be yourself." I chose a fedora to accompany this story because we all wear many hats throughout the journey of life—thankfully we still have Oprah's words to encourage us along the way.
Kristina Rodulfo, Associate Editor: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham ($28, out September 30 from Random House)
Chances are you have already heard about Not That Kind of Girl, a memoir penned by Lena Dunham. Perhaps it's because her $3.7 million advance from Random House made headlines, or maybe your 20-something friends are all fanatics of Girls, the HBO show she created. Either way, everyone will be talking about this book even more once it lands in bookstores. Dunham approaches her story with the same raw, self-aware and comedic voice she uses in her show, except now she doesn't have Hannah Horvath to share semi-autobiographical fractions of herself. This time, she reveals herself whole. From bad relationships to great friendships to sexuality and social anxiety, Dunham welcomes you to feel the trials of her self-actualization. You're bound to get inspired, so Smythson's "Existential Crisis" notebook is a cheeky pairing to Dunham's book. Write down your own experiences and get in touch with your life lessons in the making. Who knows—it might be the beginnings of your very own big book deal.
Katie Davidson, Associate Editor: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran ($27, out September 24 from Harper Perennial)
Since Caitlin Moran has already tackled How to Be a Woman in her 2011 international best-selling memoir that's in the works to become a UK series, the author is ready to address How to Build a Girl—her latest novel, due out at the end of the month. Although she assures the story is a work of fiction, the author's background as a music journalist surely inspired the coming-of-age plot that follows 14-year-old Johanna Morrigan on her '90s journey to reinvent herself. Whether she's transcribing interviews from her on-tour travels or listening to some rock 'n' roll tracks, these headphones are a must-have for her rebellious roadie character.
Bethany Cantor, Style Editor: Champagne Supernovas by Maureen Callahan, ($20, out September 2 from Touchstone)
As months go, this September has one theme and one theme only: fashion. Not only is it Fashion Month, there are a few simply superb fashion-focused books being released, and this gem from Maureen Callahan is one of them. I've devoured this book and enjoyed every minute of it. It's a tale of three stylish misfits—Marc Jacobs, Kate Moss and Alexandar McQueen—and how they changed fashion forever in the '90s. Callahan details their rises, struggles, triumphs and downfalls with perfect pace and juicy details galore. The book felt particularly timely since the fashion world is re-embracing '90s trends en masse at the moment (hello plaid, crop tops and flatforms!) To accompany my book, I chose a black slip dress, a style that was made iconic by Kate Moss and is finding new life among fashionistas as we speak. If you're a fan of fashion this book is required reading.
Want even more book-and-product pairings? Make sure to check out our July and August selections in the slideshow below: