Book of the Month club is easily my favorite book club/crate combo. The thing I like about BOTM the most is that they have judges that hand select their featured titles each month. So you’re not getting a book in a crate just because it’s popular or new, you’re getting a book because one of their judges loved it and couldn’t wait to share it with you.
And, after you subscribe, you can add up to two additional titles to your crate each month for only $9.99, which is a screaming deal taking into consideration the normal price of hardcovers being up somewhere in the region of the mid to high twenties.
HOW IT WORKS
NEW SELECTIONS EACH MONTH
On the 1st we announce the five bestbooks of the month.
CHOOSE YOUR BOOK
Choose your book by the 6th, or easilyskip the month if you prefer.
BOXES SHIP – HURRAY!
Your books arrive in a beautiful box.Happy reading!
MY DECEMBER BOOKS OF THE MONTH:
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
For the first time this month, they had their first exclusive title, Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller. It was an early release for BOTM members only!
HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY
BY JUDGE STEPH OPITZ
I imagine that Chick Lit and RomComs are popular genres because they depict the idealized versions of how people think romance should be. We watch them for whatever the opposite of catharsis is – it’s all about the look, right there on the surface. Then there are the thrillers and dramas that we read for catharsis and… instruction, maybe? Like, it’s a bit of an emotional purge, but also more of an instruction manual for avoiding what you don’t want in a relationship.Swimming Lessons is the latter.
Reading this drama was a helpful reminder of what I don’t want in my relationship. Ingrid, our protagonist, is losing herself as she is swept away in romance with a charismatic man. Her husband, a famous and well-respected author, has most of the agency in this relationship, and an unplanned pregnancy steers Ingrid off course from her life goals. And then, of course, there is Ingrid’s disappearance under mysterious circumstances that may or may not be related to her thwarted ambitions. So, you know, life lessons and intrigue.
Ingrid’s life story reads like a cautionary tale for my own life. My handsome husband is on a plane back to the U.S. from a work conference, I’m seven months pregnant, and we impulsively bought a puppy two weeks ago (insert joke about nesting). I don’t want to lose myself – my passion for reading, my career – as family obligations grow all around me (literally). And that’s whySwimming Lessons struck a chord for me: ultimately it’s about a couple whose individual ambitions complicate their relationship in ways that are both relatable and devastating.
Ingrid ultimately gets control over her destiny, and although it’s complicated, it’s a big part of the joy of reading this book. Through salacious letters scattered throughout the book, Ingrid finds a way to tell her story. As I read, I found myself asking whether Ingrid is getting closer to what she wants or moving further away. The reader is asked to play a large role in deciphering whether or not Ingrid is dead, or if she simply left and started over. Playing out the various scenarios is almost like a “choose your own adventure” story for adults. For me, Ingrid’s story, voice, and perspective, makes for a haunting, motivating, and fantastic read.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
I read Everything, Everything by Nicola last month, and can say for sure that I’m very excited to read this book.
FINDING THE MEANING OF LIFE IN 12 HOURS OR LESS
BY JUDGE DANA SCHWARTZ
The best thing about reading YA fiction as an adult is getting to feel like a teenager again. The Sun Is Also a Star managed to transport me back to my first love—or, rather, the first love I wish I could have had—without veering into the realm of the sappy or the predictable.
Nicola Yoon’s exquisite novel takes place over the course of one single day in New York City: it’s the day Daniel has his alumni interview for Yale, a school he’s only applying to in order to gratify his strict Korean parents, and it’s Natasha’s last day in America; her family, illegal immigrants from Jamaica, were exposed after her father’s DUI, and now, she must return to a country she barely remembers. On this one day their stories overlap, and fate conspires for them to meet before it seems fate will inevitably tear them apart.
Naturally, the book explores ideas of home and immigration, of parents and the generation that follows them, but Yoon also frequently dips out of the narrative to provide brief histories of tangential topics: multiverses, Black hair, the chemical components of love. She also gives us omniscient glimpses into the lives of the people with whom Natasha and Daniel interact, directly or indirectly.
More than anything, The Sun Is Also a Star is a book about empathy. Even the would-be villains get backstories, and their actions are, if not justified, than at least explained. The waitress who rolls her eyes at you is missing her son, the security guard who examines your things for a bit too long is secretly hoping you’ll just say hi, and Natasha and Daniel are terrified, afraid of acting on their immediate attraction, and of not acting on it.
And so, in a narrative that lasts only twelve hours, Yoon writes a much bigger, and much more complex than one might predict of a book that might otherwise be dismissed as a straightforward boy-meets-girl story. Are relationships worth offering your heart as collateral when the forces that might rip it apart are already in motion, unstoppable, in a deterministic universe?
The laser-vision precision of Yoon’s voice might bring you back to a time in your life when you were optimistic enough to give everyone the benefit of the doubt: the days when you had it in you to tell the cashier to have a nice day and you really meant it, or when you gave the homeless woman on the train whatever money you could. The Sun Is Also a Star makes you want to hold closer the ones you love, and care more about the strangers in your life you’ve barely noticed.
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
I think I’m most excited about this title. The premise sounds amazing, and they’re right, no one does teenagers better than Megan Abbott.
STICK THAT KILLER LANDING
BY JUDGE KEVIN NGUYEN
Nobody writes about teenagers better than Megan Abbott. The teens of You Will Know Me are elite gymnasts with dreams of making it to the Olympic squad. They sacrifice all of the things that “normal teenagers” take for granted — sleep, social lives, even food – all in the name of their immense ambitions. But a sudden tragedy sends the hopefuls—and their coaches and parents—into a panic, questioning whether becoming the next Mary Lou Retton or Simone Biles is worth dying for.
The novel perfectly ties together a fascination with the adolescent psyche, the hysteria of small-town cynicism, and the secrets that young people keep among themselves. (Think high-brow Pretty Little Liars.) And then there are the parents: Katie, the mother of the local gym’s most promising gymnast Devon, wrestles with whether she should nurture her daughter’s athletic aspirations or protect her from them. (Troublingly, her husband Eric is all in on Devon’s career.) Throw in Katie’s obsession with uncovering the truth behind a mysterious death, and you have a sense of how combustible the set-up is.
An anxious dread hangs over the whole novel, and there are even flirtations with the supernatural But even here, Abbott is incredibly restrained, particularly in her plotting, giving space for readers to create their own suspicions and theories about the characters. The novel never manipulates the readers—it lets them manipulate themselves.
You might also find yourself loving You Will Know Me even if you’re not ordinarily a reader of crime novels. Abbott doesn’t shy away from the genre, but her writing is a cut above many of her contemporaries. She leans on language that is tense but patient, rather than trying to make you turn pages quickly.
Which is perfect because you’ll want to savor every page of this twisty piece of teenage noir.
I definitely recommend this crate to any book lovers, be sure to sign up now using my referral code: https://www.bookofthemonth.com/referCode/?referCode=mlfpuo2t5u9s5rk9 and get 50% off your first three months with my promo code: FRIEND50 (you have to use my referral code link in order for it to work)
P.S. How cute is Minerva?