StyleBistro Book Club: January 2015
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.
Cristina Velocci, Deputy Editor: It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell ($24, out January 6 from Clarkson Potter)
Anyone embarking on New Year's resolutions of eating healthier and losing weight will humbled by reading Andie Mitchell's memoir, a poetically written, honest account of her struggles with binging, obesity and the traumatic childhood that led her to seek solace in food. After reaching a peak weight of 268 at the tender age of 20, the blogger behind Can You Stay for Dinner? shed more than 130 pounds—and had to completely overhaul the way she viewed food and exercise in the process. While Mitchell provides plenty of valuable insights throughout the book, my favorite revelation is the titular one: that instead of emerging a new person after becoming thin—a common misconception—Mitchell understands she's always been the same soul regardless of her size. It's why I love that one of her most vivid sartorial memories occurs not upon realizing her new slender body, but during her high school prom, when she needed to travel 45 minutes away from her Medfield, MA home to a bridal shop carrying plus sizes that would fit. I'd like to think this ombrè maxi dress honors the silk, A-line creation that made her feel beautiful, accepted and weightless the night she was crowned queen.
Dana Burke, Assistant Editor: Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell ($16, out January 13 from Gallery Books)
If you haven't heard of the "deranged sorority girl," you need to stop what you're doing and head to Google right this second. While Taylor Bell is not that girl, she's just as entertaining. (Trust me, Bell is endearing, not a psycho. However, the infamous Greek, Rebecca Martinson, did write the forward for this book—aka the reason why I wanted to read it.) Dirty Rush is a story of a college freshman who so happens to be a fifth generation legacy in the Beta Zeta sorority. She's not your typical sorority girl, but is a highly-coveted potential member because of her family's involvement with the chapter. While the book cover leads you to believe you're going to get the inside scoop on all things Greek, you're really just presented with an entertaining story about a girl's struggle with self-identity. To commemorate sorority initiation and the start of Bell's sisterhood, I've picked out an appropriate white dress ($143), a staple for any pledging ceremony. I can't speak from experience (I was forced to rush by my two best friends freshman year, but didn't pledge because I could think of 10 million other ways to spend my money) but from what I know and have been told, I'm not entirely convinced that this work of fiction is all that different from the real thing if you're looking to get a sneak-peek of sorority life.
Kristina Rodulfo, Associate Editor: The Everyday Supermodel by Molly Sims with Tracy O'Connor ($25, out January 6 from Dey Street Books)
Admit it: you've daydreamed about being a model, posing in photo shoots and strutting down catwalks. We may not have all been born to vogue, but Molly Sims is helping you live that dream by revealing her secrets to a modelesque lifestyle in her new memoir-cum-self help book. Sims, who has landed endless magazine covers, walked major runways and launched an acting career, oozes confidence but doesn't feign perfection. She tells it like it is—both successes and struggles. The tome's conversational, uplifting tone is sure to inspire whether Sims is detailing her diet, recounting her love life or sharing makeup and wardrobe dos and don'ts. Beautiful photography, quotes from celebrity friends and endless tips, dubbed "supermodel secrets," pepper the pages—we can guarantee you'll be revisiting this book over and over again. As a fitness buff, I particularly loved reading about her take on exercise. It's refreshing to have someone with a perfectly toned body (post-pregnancy to boot!) dismiss any delusions of exercise being easy. "Fitness to me is the rule, not the exception," she writes. Sims even provides step-by-step workouts to follow inspired by her personal regimen: the Tracy Anderson method, SoulCycle, yoga, SLT (Strength/Length/Tone) and Pilates. How fitting, then, is this sleek pair of look-at-me leggings ($50) to kickstart 2015 fitness resolutions? Model bod in no time!
Caitlin Miller, Senior Associate Beauty Editor: What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson ($11, out January 6 from St. Martins Press)
I run for a lot of reasons, ranging from fitness to health, but one of my main motivators for waking up at 6 am every morning for the past year and a half and lacing up has been this thought: may as well run hard now because I won't be able to when I'm older. Or will I? That's the question posed by the new paperback release of What Makes Olga Run? Part biography and part study of genetics, the book explores the practices of running superstar Olga Kotelko. The 93-year-old held 23 world records in track and field before her passing in June 2014. With each page of author Bruce Grierson's exploration of Kotelko's mind-blowing athleticism and spunk, I became convinced that not only do I need to run a marathon stat, but it's very possible that I will continue to achieve my fitness goals well into old age. With that, I am inspired to lace up—twist up, rather—my new Topo Athletic Runduro sneakers ($120), which contain a unique twist and click closure instead of laces. Ever since getting my hands on this read, I'm inspired to hit the road all over again.
Katie Davidson, Associate Editor: After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson ($15, out January 6 from Harper Collins)
While we’re all struggling to head back to work after the holidays, Charlotte Brown’s task of returning to her office job after spending four years as a nurse’s aid during The Great War was much more daunting, to say the least. Though she is grateful, she finds herself discouraged to see her Liverpool community members struggling to find work and make ends meet while dealing with their own subsequent wounds, whether literal, figurative or both. The heroine, who was introduced in Jennifer Robson’s first novel, Somewhere in France, is offered the chance to speak up for the disadvantaged from a newspaper editor—not to mention the opportunity of a lifetime for a woman in the early 1900s. Although the decision to change career paths is made difficult when a former flame (an unattainable British nobelman, no less) comes back into her life, Brown must summon the courage to pave her own way. We found an ideal carryall in a timeless silhouette that will make the day-to-day duties easier—and help empower you to fight your own battles.
Bethany Cantor, Style Editor: I'll Have What She's Having by Rebecca Harrington ($12, out January 6 from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
If you're looking for a true diet book, Rebecca Harrington's humorous take on celebrity eating habits is not for you. However, if you're hoping to take a critical look at the odd and interesting ways famous people eat, you'll enjoy digging in to Harrington's short, quippy book. Harrington committed herself to trying some of the most famous celebrity diets both past and present—from Marilyn Monroe's whipped egg whites breakfast to Gwyneth Paltrow's all-vegan menus. Some of the food plans these storied actresses chose to follow are mind-bogglingly bad and Harrington spares no criticism of the (often disgusting) meals she endured during her experience. The book reads like a page out of People magazine—full of little peeks into the private eating lives of Hollywood's finest—and pop culture enthusiasts will devour it. I chose an equally cheeky little bag from Anya Hindmarch to accompany this book. The tiny purse—meant to resemble a bag of chips—requires a sense of humor as does Harrington's adventure in food.
Want even more book-and-product pairings? Make sure to check out our 2014 selections in the slideshow below: