We've wanted to start a Jezebel book club for a while, and now, thanks to our new discussion system, it's the perfect time to get going — especially since a bunch of lazy summer holidays/weekends/afternoons are coming up.
So here's how it'll work: the Jezebel staff came up with a bunch of veeery different book options for you to choose from, including a biography, a trashy beach-read classic and a fantastical lady-knight tale. (Next time we'll take nominations; this is just to get the ball rolling on the first installment.) Below are links to each book's Amazon page, brief descriptions, and a poll. DO NOT VOTE FOR YOUR CHOICE IN THE COMMENTS! It will not count. The poll will be open for 24 hours; we'll announce the results tomorrow evening.
You'll have three weeks to read the book (don't worry, we'll write some reminder posts before then); then, we'll all meet in an open thread to discuss how much we loved/hated/were confused by the book. And because we want to make this as much like an IRL book club as possible, you should probably drink some Yellow Tail during said discussion.
Excited? We hope so! Here are your choices:
The "Book of Summer 2012": Gone Girl
Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media-as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents-the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter-but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
The Feminist Epistolary Fave: I Love Dick
In I Love Dick, published in 1997, Chris Kraus, author of Aliens & Anorexia, Torpor, and Video Green, boldly tore away the veil that separates fiction from reality and privacy from self-expression. It's no wonder that I Love Dick instantly elicited violent controversies and attracted a host of passionate admirers. The story is gripping enough: in 1994 a married, failed independent filmmaker, turning forty, falls in love with a well-known theorist and endeavors to seduce him with the help of her husband. But when the theorist refuses to answer her letters, the husband and wife continue the correspondence for each other instead, imagining the fling the wife wishes to have with Dick. What follows is a breathless pursuit that takes the woman across America and away from her husband ;and far beyond her original infatuation into a discovery of the transformative power of first person narrative. I Love Dick is a manifesto for a new kind of feminist who isn't afraid to burn through her own narcissism in order to assume responsibility for herself and for all the injustice in world ;and it's a book you won't put down until the author's final, heroic acts of self-revelation and transformation.
The Lit Major-Approved Classic: Rebecca
With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten-a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife-the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.
The Lady-Knight Tale: The Song of the Lioness (Book 1: Alanna: The First Adventure)
And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins — one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land.
The Needs-No-Introduction: Valley of the Dolls
The exploits and excesses of three pill-popping showbiz heroines: Anne, the smalltown girl supposedly modelled on Grace Kelly, who captivates a millionaire but falls for an English cad; Jennifer, the beautiful Marilyn Monroe clone who possesses everything - except immortality; and Neely, the ruthless Judy Garlandesque understudy-turned-superstar. As friends - and enemies - they learn the hard way that fame, fortune, beauty and stardom don't always equal happiness. Jacqueline Susann's sensational novel staked her claim as a pop pioneer, perfectly crystallized the decadence of the 1960s - and ushered in a whole new genre of mass-market fiction.
The Biography: Zelda
Zelda Sayre began as a Southern beauty, became an international wonder, and died by fire in a madhouse. With her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, she moved in a golden aura of excitement, romance, and promise. The epitome of the Jazz Age, together they rode the crest of the era: to its collapse and their own.
From years of exhaustive research, Nancy Milford brings alive the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda and clarifies as never before her relationship with Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda traces the inner disintegration of a gifted, despairing woman, torn by the clash between her husband's career and her own talent.