These Are Our B+C Book Club’s Best Books of 2016 (Part 2)
The grand countdown of some of 2016’s best reads from Brit + Co Book Club continues this week (see here for January to June). There’s a great big beautiful world of literature out there, and there’s still time to make a New Year’s resolution to read more of it. This will get you started.
July:by Heather Havrilesky ($16): Sometimes we all need a bit of advice. For that advice to be worth anything, though, we need to want to take it; it needs to come from a person we trust and it needs to be delivered with compassion and without too much sentimentality. Heather Havrilesky, the woman behind New York Magazine’s Ask Polly column, hits that sweet spot between sympathy and straight-talking, and her second book is a pretty fabulous guide for anyone trying to make it through life while becoming a better person. Not a simple task! Havrilesky’s truth bombs are mitigated somewhat by her willingness to turn the magnifying glass back on herself and admit to her own issues. It’s like a good soul-baring sesh with your bestie, without having to wait in line for brunch.
August:by Eowyn Ivey ($20): Eowyn Ivey’s follow-up to Pulitzer Prize finalist The Snow Child was much anticipated and landed on several “best-of” lists. Written as a series of journal entries in two separate journals, To the Bright Edge of the World chronicles the journeys of Colonel Allan Foster and his wife, Sophie, in the dark and forbidding winter of 1885. Colonel Foster is on an exploratory expedition, mapping the unknown Alaskan territory, and Sophie is trying to map out a life for herself as an army wife in the Vancouver Barracks, pregnant and lonely. This historical novel gets as mythic and magical as the wilderness it describes, forming an escape as potent as Sophie’s venture into the art of nature photography. Full of letters, maps and sketches, the book forges its own path of discovery.
September:by Alice Pung ($16): September featured some absolutely beautiful novels (The Wonder by Emma Donoghue was a stunner), but one particularly unique work that caught our eye was Alice Pung’s YA smash, Lucy and Linh. If you’ve finished rewatching the new Gilmore Girls saga on Netflix for the fifth time, quietly ambitious Lucy Lam is a Rory Gilmore for the next generation, born to ethnically Chinese parents who immigrate to Australia via Vietnam, and finds herself the recipient of an “Equal Access” scholarship to a prestigious private school called Laurinda. Once there, Lucy must navigate both the academic and social landscapes. Here, it is automatically assumed she needs remedial classes, people can tell her uniform is new (and to think, her mother wanted to save money by sewing it herself) and a welcome into the Cabinet, a trio of girls with wide-reaching social influence, threatens to change everything Lucy once knew about herself. Grounding her are the letters she writes to Linh, her blunt and daring friend from back home, who is growing impatient with Lucy’s delayed realizations about the impact of class. Sharp and brutally honest, it’s a must-read for adolescents and anyone who believes in the power of simply being yourself.
October:by Maria Semple ($16): Maria Semple’s cutting work of satirical fiction, like Pung’s, puts another spin on the problems of the privileged. A veteran of such TV shows as Arrested Development and Mad About You, Semple gives us a fascinating protagonist in Eleanor Flood, a former creative on a beloved animated kid’s series called Looper Wash, who gives up her job to move to Seattle with her hand surgeon husband and their non-conformist third-grade son Timby. She feels trapped and incapable of putting even the most basic normal plan into place. The self-aware Semple asks us, “Why the agita surrounding one normal day of white-people problems? Because there’s me and there’s the beast in me.” A savagely witty day in the life of a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, Semple’s book gives us the mantra we all need: “Today will be different.”
November:by Michael Chabon: Chabon’s newest release is semi-autobiographical, but how much of it is actually true is in question. Of the consummate storyteller’s work, Moonglow presents us with a sprawling, almost mythologized world that centers around the life of Chabon’s grandfather. Written as a faux memoir by a character named “Michael Chabon,” the novel lets us find out the intricate details of his grandparents’ lives; confessional and intimate, it’s much like the 1989 trip home that inspired the novel, when Chabon was finally privy to his terminally ill grandfather’s secrets. The novel is impressive both for the power of the story itself (Chabon’s grandfather, at various times, attempted to strangle his business partner, hunted Nazis and almost blew up a bridge as a prank) and for its theme of the power of the stories we tell ourselves. Why just stick to the facts, when memory or narrative demand another “truth?” Unlike most of the lies we’re told, though, Chabon’s are an admitted conceit.
December:by Siri Hustvedt ($26): We close the year’s best books with Siri Hustvedt’s nuanced collection of musings on art, biology, perception and gender bias. The first section takes a look at how these biases affect how people make judgments about the value of achievements in the humanities, such as literature and art, and how that affects the way we allocate value in general. In the second section, Hustvedt tackles what is basically the oldest human philosophical problem: the connection between body and mind, both on a physical and scientific level. Last, she gets her Oliver Sacks on and writes about the neurological aspects of the human condition, using a varied and diverse base of research from history to genetics. What better way to end the year of books than a look back on the arts and what makes us human? The impulse to tell and read stories is certainly one of the best traits we share.
Getting the word out about your brand takes time, drive, and ingenuity. And it doesn't come easy for many entrepreneurs. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're chatting with Selfmade alum Taylor Morgan McPherson, founder of Sustainable Sparkle Bar, about ways in which she scored press as a solo startup brand and what she learned from Selfmade to take her brand marketing up a notch.
B + C: How did you know Sustainable Sparkle Bar was your business to start?
Glitter has always been my thing, so when I started my event company I decided to make it my niche. I started telling people I threw glitter-themed parties where people would get sparkled with glitter body art and makeup. Six months after that I applied to my first festival and to work with SUR restaurant in West Hollywood.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
I honestly can't say that I've had a specific strategy that I've followed when it comes to getting my business off the ground. I have a PR background so I was just constantly pitching new business and posting on social media.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
I would say creating a stable income and revenue stream. With a seasonal, event-based business it can be very up and down.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
The relationships I made and the push to start an email database.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I love what I do and I believe in myself 100%. Staying motivated isn't the hard part. Pushing myself to do the work and staying accountable is the hard part.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip? Do you use any apps that help you manage your business?
I keep multiple to-do lists, hand-written and digital. I also tell clients and partners that I will have something to them by a certain time or day so I have to stick to it.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Just do it, take the leap. And don't worry about what anyone else says to thinks.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Issa Rae, I'm so inspired by everything that she's created being a creative and a black woman. It's my dream to have my own show one day based on my life and where I give advice and talk about the world. She's doing it and making people laugh and giving people joy. And it's based in LA. Watching Insecure only further cemented my dreams of wanting to live in LA.
B + C: How did you hear about the Office Depot scholarship?
One of my friends that I met through Camp No Counselors saw an IG ad for it and nominated me.
B + C: What has receiving the scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start/grow your business?
It's completely helped me level up and take my business to another level. Selfmade helped me host my first virtual event and taught me how to set up my website to sell tickets to events and get RSVPs.
B + C: How have Office Depot services or products helped you accomplish more in your business?
I got new cards to send in all of my orders with my discount code on them. I also bought a really cool 4K camera that I now use for my social media.
Let Office Depot OfficeMax help you stand out in the crowd. From signs, posters & banners to promote your business, to marketing materials to keep your customers informed, Office Depot OfficeMax offers a full suite of business services & solutions to help you & your business get noticed.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.