Book Club

Join the Club!

Join the FORTH staff every month in reading one of our personal selects. Here are the archives. Are you all caught up? Tell us #FORTHBookClub

November 2017


The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Managing & Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “In Kaur’s second collection of poetry, she easily impresses us all once again after Milk and Honey. While this collection also focuses on relationships, you can tell the growth in the author and speaker(s) of the poems–they are coming from a similar, yet different place. What happens after a relationship? She focuses on relationships with not just lovers but also friends, family, and oneself. Rupi illustrates the book herself as well, and the collection is simply beautiful.”


October 2017


Knockemstiff” by Donald Ray Pollock

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Managing & Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “I have a strange love for messed up, thought-provoking, dark, stories that really make you think about life outside of your own four walls. Pollock does just that in Knockemstiff, a collection of related short stories of a po-dunk, Midwestern American town. Don’t read if you are easily offended or don’t want to be shocked – but hopefully, you will want to be.”


September 2017


The Grownup” by Gillian Flynn

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Managing & Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “In true Gillian Flynn fashion, The Grownup has dark undertones (and overtones) with her typical twists and turns, leaving you in suspense even at the end of this short story. The Grownup’s narrator is a “psychic” who ends up in a house filled with evil when her job takes her too far into another family’s life – and consequently, trying to escape from it.”


August 2017


Incendiary” by Chris Cleave

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “After reading Cleave’s Little Bee, I was recommended Incendiary by my brother. With a vastly different narrator than Little Bee, Cleave again showcases an extremely traumatic event through the eyes of a narrator that is a bit out-of-the-box from what you’d expect, but still ends up being likable and someone that you are rooting for, no matter what. When a suicide bomb explodes in London at a soccer match, the narrator’s life is also blown to bits – and she tries grappling with what her life is like in the aftermath of terror.”

July 2017


Once We Were Brothers” by Ronald H. Balson

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “I have always found books taking place during the Holocaust, fiction or non-fiction, to be quite interesting and, of course, very able to pull at the heart-strings. Once We Were Brothers plays with time as stories are told simultaneously in modern-day Chicago as well as the start of the Holocaust in Poland. Two friends – one a Jew, one not, find themselves in a difficult, life-changing scenario, and their lives coincide years later in America..or do they?”

June 2017


Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “Wonder is a heartwarming story for readers of many ages that focuses on Auggie, a soon-to-be 5th grader that was born with a facial deformity that has caused his parents to home-school him up until now. Now with his first year in a mainstream school, Auggie learns how to be the new kid in school and deal with, as well as help others overcome, judging someone just based on their looks. Wonder will be released in its movie adaption in late 2017.”

May 2017


Cat’s Eye” by Margaret Atwood

Recommended By: Anna Ter-Yegishyan, Assistant Editor

Anna says: “Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood made me realize that it’s okay to be in a constant state of grappling with who we are and that our identities are not fixed, but always in the process of changing. Atwood does an incredible literary job of recounting Elaine Risley’s childhood friendships and romantic relationships she later develops to shed light on and justify the mistakes we make and and often encounter in ourselves in order to grow and come to terms with who we are.”

April 2017


Platform” by Michel Houellebecq

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “I am on a total Houellebecq kick. In this world, a boring man meets a woman who changes his life in Thailand, igniting a sexual fire in him that starts him on a new path. Recalling the quiet and enormous moments of Camus’s The Stranger, Platform builds from a light and airy, slightly pornographic read into something that will shock you.”

March 2017


The Seven Good Years” by Etgar Keret

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “A beautiful rendering of the humanness in all things big and small in our world. The most precious part of this memoir is an innocent game that Keret’s son plays with him and his wife to fend off war. Keret’s unique humor brings out the unexpected sadness in this book.”

February 2017


You Will Not Have My Hate” by Antoine Leiris

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “In such a time of domestic political upheaval, it’s important to still remember the global tragedies that came before us. November 13, 2015 was an unforgettable night for France, as well as for the rest of the world. 3 days after his wife Hélène was murdered while attending a concert at the Bataclan, Leiris wrote a letter on Facebook to the terrorists responsible, saying that they were not deserving of his hatred, for the sake of himself and his young son. When reading this book, between sobs, you’ll find a new value to life.”

January 2017


The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “I had the great pleasure of being Whitehead’s former student, and he told me a piece of advice I remember everyday when I write: ‘You can be an asshole, but your narrator can’t.’ This is the book everyone is talking about, and for good reason. Cora is a young slave who, prompted by destiny, flees north from a Georgia plantation on an actual Underground Railroad. Whitehead captures the tone just right; you would have thought he was right there, recording Cora’s every thought. A classic for every American to read.”

December 2016


The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “All poor Enid wants is to bring her family together for one last Christmas. But it’s not so easy when her husband has Parkinson’s, one son is clinically depressed and another is a failed screenwriter. Franzen takes the dysfunctional family story to a whole new level of comedy and tragedy.”

November 2016


Submission” by Michel Houellebecq

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “Especially in such trying political times, this book centered around election season seems more appropriate than ever. When a new Islamic party comes to power in a surreal, ultra-violent and censored France in 2022, a morally questionable professor is offered an opportunity that comes at a major price.”

October 2016


Instant Messages” by lowellgm

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “At times hilarious in its simplicity, and at others, immensely deep, this special collection will challenge and entertain you with its wisdom and delight. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.”

September 2016


This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett

Recommended By: Alexa Brahme, Editorial Assistant

Alexa says: “This collection of essays by Ann Patchett is a must read for anyone who wants to be a writer—especially a non-fiction writer. It is full of wisdom, experience, and humility and teaches the art of writing without preaching or condescending. Patchett’s collection inspires one to write and to write well and for that, I thank her. If you read it, you’ll want to thank her too.”


August 2016


Land of Enchantment” by Leigh Stein

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “Leigh Stein was twenty-two when she went to Albuquerque with her boyfriend, Jason to pursue her dreams of writing a novel, and his of becoming an actor. But the Land of Enchantment turned out to be nothing like she’d hoped. Check out our interview with Leigh Stein on her brave journey into abuse and recovery.”


July 2016


The Arab of the Future” by Riad Sattouf

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “This graphic memoir looks at political disarray from the vantage point of someone too young to fathom it. Former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, Riad Sattouf, serializes his childhood shipped between the Middle East and France. It’s funny, strange, and heartbreaking — Sattouf is an artist in more than one sense of the word.”



June 2016


Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

Recommended By: Cassie Ciopryna, Poetry Editor

Cassie says: “You thought you heard of the most twisted relationship when you read and/or saw “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn–but her earlier book “Sharp Objects” makes you think twice. You’ll think you have this one figured out multiple times throughout the story but it’ll keep you on your toes and disturb you until the very end. If you like fucked up fiction, this book (and all of Flynn’s catalogue) is your jam.”



May 2016


The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana” by Umberto Eco

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Managing Editor

Kaila says: “Go on a wild ride through the world of the mind in the late Umberto Eco’s masterpiece of memory. This book is as delightful as a dream, illustrations and all.”


April 2016


The Body: An Essay” by Jenn Boully

Recommended By: Anna Ter-Yegishyan, Editorial Assistant

Anna says: “Jenny Boully invents a totally new way of reading footnotes–ones that refer to a nonexistent text. She leaves it up to readers to conceptualize and assemble the contexts underlying the footnotes. Overall, such an interesting read.”



January 2016


The Other Paris by Luc Sante” by Luc Sante

Recommended By: Kaila Allison, Fiction Editor

Kaila says: “Great cities are like great characters, and every one has secrets. Luc Sante creates a vibrant montage of the gritty underworld of Paris from infancy to maturity by illuminating the lives of her most colorful thieves and thugs. Sante is sharp as a guillotine, and I think you’ll agree.”



November 2015


The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

Recommended By: Amanda Montell, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “I started reading Sloane when I was 16 years old. Her essays are basically what made me want to be a writer. This is her first novel, and I couldn’t be more stoked. She is one of the the cleverest writers alive right now.”




October 2015


Pain, Parties, Work” by Elizabeth Winder

Recommended By: Amanda Montell, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “This seems like a random pick, but my mom gave me this a while ago and I finally cracked it open. It’s really cool to read about a side of Sylvia Plath that is so not the depressive 30-year-old who put her head in the oven. It’s a nostalgic read. I’m into it.”




August 2015


Kitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal

Recommended By: Amanda Montell, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “J. Ryan Stradal is one of the nicest, most gregarious LA writers I’ve ever met. That comes through in his writing—he gives the same care and attention to his delightful characters that he gives to the people he meets in real life. This is his debut novel, and I couldn’t be more excited for his success. Can’t wait to dive into this.”




June 2015


Bluets” by Maggie Nelson

Recommended By: Anna Ter-Yegishyan, Editorial Assistant

Anna says: “Bluets surpasses traditional methods of essay writing through Maggie Nelson’s numbered format as she shares her brief and eclectic accounts centering on her fascination, or obsession, with the color blue. By incorporating various interpretations of blue, she powerfully depicts how it can be both healing and wounding.”



May 2015


So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson

Recommended By: Chanel Palacios, Fiction Editor

Chanel says: “I’m addicted to reading the Internet arguments that happen in comments sections. Seeing mob violence via the interwebs is something I’m looking forward to reading about in Ronson’s book.”



April 2015


Citizen” by Claudia Rankine

Recommended By: Amanda Montell, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “Important stuff here, peeps. Read for your life. And for a better understanding of humankind.”



March 2015


Mermaids in Paradise” by Lydia Millet

Recommended By: Chanel Palacios, Fiction Editor

Chanel says: “It’s got mermaids and lots of dark humor, apparently. And it’s still literary. Super excited.”



February 2015


The First Bad Man” by Miranda July

Recommended By: Amanda Montell, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “Where to begin with the waif-like cerebral overlord that is Miranda July. This woman’s prose is amazingpithy and eccentric (I think on “on the spectrum” is the hip way people are referring to this sort of thing now). But then the ideas are jarringly wise. It almost feels as if every line points out some profound human truth that had simply never occurred to you until that five word sentence about a tissue and a florescent lightbulb. I’m not explaining this very well. Anyway, you need to read this. It’s July’s first full-length novel, and it just came out, so happy birthday to the universe.”



January 2015


Women by Chloe Caldwell

Recommended By: Amanda, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “Who wouldn’t want to spend the most depressing month of the year with a steamy, angsty novella about girl-on-girl snogging?”



December 2014


Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

Recommended By: Chanel, Fiction Editor

Chanel says: “This kind of heartbreak makes me want to become a romantic.”



November 2014


The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith

Recommended By: Amanda, Managing Editor

Amanda says: “I heard Claire Bidwell Smith read parts of this at an event in LA last year, and her spirit was so genuine and relatable, I felt like I already knew her. That’s how this book makes you feel too. It’s painful, but it’s also so familiar.”

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