Madewell Book Club: What 6 of Our Favorite Women Are Reading RN

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Thanks to the internet, a new book recommendation list is just a few clicks away, but what about the things that aren’t new or notable at the moment? For some less-expected suggestions, we checked back in with the creative women we’ve gotten to know over the past few years (all of whom we’ve written about on this very blog). Here, seven recommendations as unique as they are. There’s a long novel, some short stories, a few new-ish titles and some that are quite old.

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How to Make Your Book Club Last: Author Sloane Crosley’s 6 Super-Simple Tips

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Our witty friend and best-selling essayist Sloane Crosley—who recently released her first novel, The Clasp—knows a thing (or six) about reading for fun. Here, her tips for making sure your well-intentioned plan to hang with friends, eat some cheese and, yes, read a few books doesn’t become the thing you feign illness to avoid (including one tip we thought we’d never hear from a writer).

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Five Unexpected Icons from Tomboy Style’s Lizzie Garrett Mettler

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Lizzie Garrett Mettler is basically an expert in all things tomboy. Obsessed with vintage cars, Airstream camping and digging up just the right duffel bag, the Los Angeles-based author of Tomboy Style (which shares its name with her utterly addictive blog) is the ultimate source of boy-meets-girl inspiration.  We picked her brain for tomboy icons of the not-so-obvious variety (who knew Ginger Rogers spent her weekends in waders?). Here, her top five choices.

The Sailor: Florence Arthaud

“She combines minimal French style with a nautical bent (like rolled-up chinos and Sperry Top-Siders) and always seems to have a determined look on her face—which you’d need for going solo across the Atlantic.”

The Writer: Françoise Sagan

“Sagan is mostly known for her existential essays and plays, but I found her wonderful carefree style to be as illuminating as her writing. Cropped jeans and a rollneck sweater with short, shaggy hair seems to have been her trademark, which she usually paired with a Jaguar or Aston Martin.”

The First Daughter: Susan Ford

“It’s hard for presidential families to compete with the Kennedys when it comes to style, but a dark horse in that arena would definitely be the hyper-athletic Ford family. When they weren’t on official business, they favored a sporty, rustic American look and the youngest of the group, Susan, had great tomboy style.”

The Actress/Dancer: Ginger Rogers

“I love when I find a woman who has two sides to her. Ginger Rogers is a perfect example—she was a super-feminine, glittered-up Hollywood dancer who couldn’t wait to wrap a movie and head north to her ranch in Oregon, where she fly-fished in waders and tended to her pigs.”

The Royal: Princess Caroline of Monaco

“Members of a royal family are always congratulated for elegance and dazzle, but it wasn’t Princess Caroline’s ball gowns or jewels that attracted me to her. She has an inherently sporty and minimal style that allows her to look really at home in a Barbour jacket and fisherman sweater, or barefoot on a boat with a pair of Ray-Bans.”

Tomboy Style is for sale here and at Madewell stores.

Notes From Madewell: Summer Reading List

There’s not much more we love here at Madewell than curling up to a good book (especially if we’re wearing some supersoft chambray while doing so).

Now that we’ve got even more daylight hours and weekend getaways to spend quality time with a solid read, here’s what we’ll be nose-deep in this summer.

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 1.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple

This charming and quirky novel about a runaway mother and her teenage daughter’s attempts to find her has some hilarious, screwball moments. (No surprise there as the author used to write for Arrested Development.)

2.  The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A young woman deals with her troubled past by communicating through flowers (yes, flowers.) If you’re looking for a roller coaster ride of emotion that you won’t soon forget.

3. Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins

We don’t mind rereading this ’90s favorite because it’s just that amazing. An imaginative love story between a princess and an outlaw that involves pyramids, redheads and the purpose of the moon? What’s not to love.

4.  Apology, issue no. 2

Apology is “a general interest magazine for people whose general interests aren’t general.” (Translation: cool, unexpected stuff.)  The second issue of this art and literary quarterly features short fiction, lost poetry, photographs of teddy bears and a glimpse into the home of Jackie Collins.

5.  Kinfolk, issue no. 8

We love the creative spirit behind this ad-free magazine (plus, it’s really pretty to look at). The latest volume highlighting all things Japanese packs so much goodness: a photo essay of an Osaka family, a how-to on shibori dyeing and a cherry blossom macaron recipe.

An LA Treasure: Book Stand

We count ourselves big fans of the print medium here at Madewell, so when we discovered the wonder that is Book Stand, an online shop devoted to offering a thoughtful curation of the most exquisite, and often very hard-to-find, books and magazines, we were immediately smitten. The curator responsible for all this amazingness? LA-based art and film director Claire Cottrell. Read all about her:
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Claire Cottrell in her LA home. Photo by Jessica Comingore.

Can you tell us a little about your background?
I studied architecture but was seduced by advertising when I was finishing up grad school. I worked my way up as a producer and then, after feeling like I’d lost my way creatively, switched gears and started working as an art director, and then as a film director. I’ve always been obsessed with art books.

What inspired you to start Book Stand?
In between jobs I was making a living creating mood boards for ad campaigns, film and television. It was kind of crazy, but big production companies would pay me to research and present inspiring images to help clients visualize a project. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea of a place where you can literally shop for inspiration.

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How do you find the books and magazines you feature?
I start with a subject that’s of interest to me (plants, a specific color, a philosophy) and then start looking around, which involves everything from poking around the internet to scouring second-hand stores, friends’ personal libraries, etc. And lately, I’ve had some really interesting submissions.

What are your top five favorite titles you are currently carrying?
Are Plants People, by Mark Borthwick
Blossom, by Hermine Van Dijck and Eefje Coninck
Plants and Mammals, by Carol Bove
Natural History, by Jordan Sullivan
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, by Leanne Shapton

Do you have any favorite bookstores or literary landmarks that you’ve visited?
0fr. in Paris and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts.

What are the first books you remember falling in love with?
Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome
The Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton
Take Care of Yourself, by Sophie Calle

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What are your thoughts on the Kindle culture?
I think it’s great if you’re an avid reader, but personally, I can’t do it. I spend enough time looking at a screen; the printed page is my escape from digital everything. Add to that, I think tablets work for literature, but the art book is (and always will be) best as a beautiful object that you can hold and cherish.

The Ultimate Holiday Reading List

by Sarah Wexler (Brooklyn)

Let’s face it: Winter is here to stay (for a few more months anyway). So why not curl up fireside with a great book that’s so engrossing you hardly even remember the slushy snow that was at the bottom of your boots all week long? Here are our top four picks for doing just that.

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1. Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin

When Baldwin gets a job at an ad agency in France, he jumps at the chance to make his lifelong crepes-and-cafés fantasy a reality. But the Paris he finds is a tad different, and he struggles with a language barrier, cultural confusion and bureaucratic nightmares that frustrate him (and entertain us).

2. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

One day, Strayed decides to hike 1,000 miles—alone and without ever having so much as picked up a backpack before—to figure out her life. And she needs to: At 26, she has recently lost her mom to cancer, destroyed her marriage through infidelity and picked up a bad habit or two. As Strayed finds herself lost, thirsty and minus a few toenails, she puts her mind back together in a way that’s riveting to follow.

3. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

First, you’ll be transported to Lawson’s own version of The Glass Castle, as seen in her childhood in rural Texas, where her dad randomly brings home wild animals (and occasionally stuffs them or uses them as hand puppets). Next, you’ll be sucked into Lawson’s paranoid adult mind, tagging along on awkward trips to the doctor, where she requests the most bizarre of procedures. So funny and crazy, you’ll swear your family is normal.

4. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

It’s the early ’70s, and sharp literary UK college student Serena gets an interesting assignment: Spy on her very charming and handsome classmate Tom. The request comes from MI5, the British FBI, and Serena gets tangled up as she falls in love with Tom—and unravels more about his true, not-so-lovable identity.