You know what always sounds like a fun idea? Starting a book club. But you know what always ends up being maybe kind of complicated to pull off in your actual life because you’re busy and it’s hard to get all your lit-loving friends together on a regular basis? A book club! Don’t just take my word for it, BuzzFeed’s Doree Shafrir (author of the excellent new novel Startup) recently explained eloquently and hilariously about why she eventually gave up on ever finding a book club to call her own. Basically, it’s just too damn hard in our busy, busy lives.
And yet. What if there were a book club that didn’t involve putting out a platter of crudité and sacrificing precious weekend or weeknight hours organizing a large number of your friends to get together at the same time and in the same place? What if there were a book club where the only thing you had to was... read the book? And then get to talk about the book with the author himself/herself? Doesn’t that sound kind of perfect?
I... read a lot of books. (Want to know how you too can read a lot of books? Check out this handy guide by GQ’s Kevin Nguyen.) And I love to talk about the ones I love. And I’d love to talk about the ones I love with you and the authors of those books. That’s the whole idea, anyway, behind the NYLON Book Club, which we’re excited to announce the launch of today.
Here’s how it works: Each month, we’ll choose a book to read; the kind of book of which we tend to buy extra copies, so that we can press them into the hands of our closest friends; the kind we tend to mark up with underlined passages and exclamation points and featuring dog-eared page after dog-eared page; the kind we tend to read so many times that its words feel tattooed into our skin, our brains, our hearts. You know the kind, right? And so then, after we announce the book, we’ll send out several reminders over the course of the month, via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and even do a book giveaway so that you can get a copy of the book we’ve chosen as easily as possible. Finally, we’ll have a Facebook Live chat with the author, during which time you’ll be able to chime in and ask questions of your own about the book in question.
So without further ado, the very first selection for the NYLON Book Club is:
Here’s why we’ve decided to kick off the NYLON Book Club with Marlena: When I first read Marlena, I was stunned by the way in which it seemed to speak directly to me. The many people with whom I spoke who’d read it all felt the same way; it was devastating and life-affirming all at once. Plus, it seemed like a fun idea to debut NYLON’s book club with a novel by a debut author, which the prodigiously talented Buntin is.
Buy your own copy of Marlena here (or wherever books are sold near you), and get excited for our live book club event with Buntin, when she’ll come to the NYLON Studio on Tuesday, May 16, at 11am for a Facebook Live conversation where you can ask all the burning questions you’re bound to have after reading this compelling and piercing debut novel. Join the Facebook event for reminders:
Need any more convincing? Here’s what I had to say about Marlena when I reviewed it for the April 2017 issue of NYLON:
When I think back to the most meaningful relationships of my teenage years, the ones that stand out are those that were then described as friendships, those that have taken me years to realize were among the most romantic relationships I’d ever have. The connections I had with my best girl friends were of an intensity and power that went unmatched for many years; theirs were the hands I clutched tightly; theirs were the limbs with which mine were tangled in bed during our countless sleepovers; theirs were the hands that held back my hair when I’d had too much to drink and vomited, bent over the toilet, the dark ground, the filthy floor; theirs were the tears which wet the front of my shirt as I stroked their hair, comforting them over the loss of this boy’s interest or that boy’s attention. We shared everything: our secrets, our dreams, our fears, our drugs, our love, our anger. The stakes felt different than if we’d been more than just friends; we were allowed to be at once our most primal and most elevated selves, the best and worst versions of who we wanted to be. These attachments were fierce; they burned hot and then they burned out. We grew up; we moved away; some of us stayed in touch; almost all of us have replaced that type of friendship with adult romantic relationships.
Sometimes I’ll be reminded of those times, when everything seemed possible and consequences were something only adults experienced. These reminders are rare but stop me in my tracks, like when I recently read Julie Buntin’s brilliant Marlena, a novel about two girls, best friends growing up poor in northern Michigan, who find solace in each other—and in drugs and boys—when faced with the cruelties of their worlds. Though wholly different from my personal experience, Marlena so perfectly captures the bottomless need and desire of teenage girls and the reckless abandon with which they live their lives that I felt an urgent flash of recognition, as if I were reading about my own life, and simply discovering new memories. For anyone who has ever been a teenage girl and loved and lived a little too recklessly for their own good, Marlena will resonate on a cellular level, unlocking feelings you might have forgotten you’d ever had.
See you at Book Club!!!