StyleBistro Book Club: November 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.
Cristina Velocci, Deputy Editor: The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer ($27, out November 11 from Grand Central Publishing)
Before indie alt-rocker Amanda Palmer made a name for herself as the lead singer of The Dresden Dolls, she was a living statue busking for money as a white-faced bride in Boston's Harvard Square. It's where she first learned how to ask (albeit silently, with her eyes), and that skill has proved instrumental in her career as she went on to crowdsource everything from opening acts and crash pads to $1.2 million on Kickstarter—at the time, the most amount of money raised on the platform for a musical act—for her first solo album. Anyone who's enjoyed Palmer's TED talk will appreciate her debut book, which allows her to voice everything that didn't fit into its 12-minute constraints: the difference between begging and asking, the vulnerability and trust required with performing the latter act, and anecdotes illustrating the rewarding human interactions she's experienced from opening herself up to the process. As a street performer, Palmer would give out daisy poms to anyone who threw money into her hat as a gift of gratitude, so it's only fitting her work of non-fiction be paired with a daisy-print dress as a reminder "to give and receive fearlessly, and ask without shame."
Ann Brady, Executive Editor: No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy Seal by Mark Owen ($18, out November 10 from Dutton Publishing)
Following up a New York Times bestseller with another hit is no easy feat. Mark Owen accepted the challenge to produce a sequel to No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of a Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from a Navy Seal. Having grown up with a father who served in Vietnam, I’ve always been fascinated by his stories about the elite special forces. In No Easy Day, Owen focuses on one of the biggest headline-grabbing stories of the last decade. With No Hero, however, he chooses to explore his personal favorite missions that were often covert and classified, garnering neither praise nor press whether failures or successes. These are the stories that show the intimate side of war: personal struggles and hardships amongst a team of men. The stories are touching and at times hard to read, but they remind us to appreciate those who sacrifice to protect our freedom without any notoriety. I try to wear my red, white and blue on more days than just July 4th. I’m snatching up this sweater to wear under a blazer just in time for Veteran’s Day.
Bethany Cantor, Style Editor: Watch Me by Anjelica Huston ($20, out November 11 from Simon and Schuster)
In a follow up to her first critically acclaimed coming-of-age memoir, A Story Lately Told, actress Anjelica Huston delves into her Hollywood years in her newest offering, Watch Me. In this revealing book, Huston writes with passion and introspection about everything from her turbulent 17-year relationship with Jack Nicholson to the stories and struggles that went into creating her most celebrated roles. It is her Oscar-Winning performance in the film Prizzi's Honor that inspired me to track down a gold chain necklace similar to the one Huston wears in the film as she portrays Maerose Prizzi, the daughter of a mafia don who is put aside by her former lover when he falls for another woman. Huston gives an amazing performance and, as always, exudes an almost innate sense of stylish ease. Huston is a truly chic woman with a storied career that will inspire you.
Katie Davidson, Associate Editor: Yves Saint Laurent by Roxanne Lowit ($50, out November 18 from Thames & Hudson)
There's already countless reasons to adore Yves Saint Laurent, but fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit captures plenty more in her latest compilation of behind-the-scenes images of the iconic designer throughout his career. Case in point: the fact that, for each of his runway shows, the iconic designer embellished his favorite look with a heart-shaped necklace, inspired by one of his early drawings. Since his similar vintage pieces are quite costly (not to mention hard to come by), find a dainty charm to adorn your own favorite fashions—or make everyday ensembles all the more special.
Dana Burke, Assistant Editor: Ugly Girls: A Novel by Lindsay Hunter ($25, out November 4 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
What you see is what you get with Ugly Girls: A Novel by Lindsay Hunter. Raw, gritty and honest, Hunter tells the story of two best friends, “Baby Girl” and Perry, as they push the boundaries on growing up—stealing cars, cursing at salespeople, carrying guns—in a way that’s far more extreme than normal teenage shenanigans. Despite her unpleasant trailer park upbringing, Perry gets by on her good looks. Baby Girl, who has a half-shaved head, hates her for it. The girls are constantly in a power struggle for attention, especially when it comes to Jamey, a guy they both met online who claims to go to high school in the next town over. In truth, they’re frenemies who remain loyal to each other because of their “don’t care” attitude. Both characters are hard to relate to, but that’s what makes them interesting. The one spark of femininity in Baby Girl’s thug-like exterior is her devotion to lip liner, which is why I had to pick one as my item for this book. She applies it often and heavily with clear gloss over the top, a trick she learned from YouTube. No one likes it except for her. Although I suggest pairing yours with a matching shade of lipstick, Baby Girl’s confidence in her makeup application is a quality that’s far from ugly, and the book overall is a thought-provoking read if you're looking for a less-than-glamorous story line.
Caitlin Miller, Senior Associate Beauty Editor: Texts From Jane Eyre and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg ($16, out November 4 from Henry Holt)
For anyone who can quote The Great Gatsby at the drop of a hat or who knows all of the Bennet sisters' love conquests by heart, Texts From Jane Eyre is quite possibly the answer to a true bookworm's prayers. Thanks to the creative imagination of author Mallory Ortberg, some of the greatest literary characters and authors come to life via text messages. The awkward confrontations and conversations between characters are reimagined through Ortberg's highly entertaining musings of their digital messaging. Imagine Daisy Buchanan texting while driving, Scarlett O'Hara sending Ashley ten "R U there?" texts, Marius sending the eloquent "Hey babe, Cosette, babe," greeting and my personal favorite exchange, Peeta texting Katniss his brilliant name for a bakery—"The Hunger Grains." Not only does this book entertain from cover to cover, but it examines some of the most legendary characters and zeroes in on their faults and quirks, which are only enhanced with their texting—or lack thereof—skills. While flipping through the pages of this catalog of clever messages, I was inspired to combine tech and literature in my everyday life. And what better way to do so than with a phone case that pays homage to one of the greatest writers (but worst texters) of our time: Edgar Allan Poe. (Seriously, he keeps texting something about a bird and a heart beating from the floor. Creepy.)
Kristina Rodulfo, Associate Editor: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life by Sophia Loren
($20, out November 4 from Atria Books)
From an Academy Award win to a high-profile courtship with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren's life sounds every bit the Hollywood movie. In her first memoir, the Italian actress reflects on her golden years living the high life, as well as the hardship she experienced before success as a girl growing up with a single mother in Naples, Italy. Her language is elegant and arresting, much like the beauty she is famous for. Amidst written memories are also mementos such as never-before-seen personal letters, sketches and photographs. It's difficult not to gawk at Loren's inimitable glamour—she's a style icon after all. While explaining the inextricable bond between cinema and fashion, she waxes poetic about designer and friend Giorgio Armani. She writes, "What keeps Giorgio going...is the dream of offering men and women the discovery of their own beauty." Discover your inner Sophia Loren with a piece of Armani yourself, in a brilliant red shade as timeless as the screen legend herself.
Want even more book-and-product pairings? Make sure to check out our July, August, September and October selections in the slideshow below: