The Official Flavorpill Bookshelf: May Staff Reading Picks


We don’t think we’re congratulating ourselves too much if we consider our office a bookish one. But what’s the fun in being bookish if you can’t share what novels are keeping you up at night, get suggestions from other literature nerds, and gossip about what’s next on your reading list? That’s why we’ve embarked on a monthly mission to share our virtual staff bookshelf with you (you can see past bookshelves here and here), so you can check out what books are on our minds and chime in with your own. Click through to check out our aggregated staff bookshelf, and read what a few members of the Flavorpill family have to say about their reading lists, and then let us know what’s in your own read/reading/to read piles in the comments!

Books We’ve Read and Loved:

“Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins . This is Attenberg in unbelievable form. Ostensibly a novel about gluttony, this whole thing comi-tragically unfolds into an incredible domestic drama spanning generations. You’re going to be hearing a lot about this book.” — Russ Marshalek, Social Media Director

The Social Animal , by David Brooks. It turns out that your unconscious mind basically runs everything about you — your choices, your personality, your sense of morality P and you don’t even know it. Social Animal is kinda pop-psych-ish but I can promise that, if nothing else, you will walk away with a couple fun anecdotes and crazy facts for cocktail parties. For example: did you know that most people know about 60,000 words, but we only need 4,000 for 98% of our conversations? Or that if you tell a surgeon that a procedure has a 15% failure rate, he probably won’t do it, but if you tell him that it has an 85% success rate, he probably will? Fascinating!” — Jack Lenehan, Developer

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. I’ve read this collection of short stories like 100 times. Not to sound like a book critic, but no other book captures California or the human condition in as real and magical of a way. Specifically, Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream and Notes from a Native Daughter. Life Changing. Period. End of story.” — Claire Cottrell, Design Editor

“Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 . Murakami consistently weaves a good story. The man knows how to turn a phrase. This one is about an alternate universe, where there are two moons, a lady assassin, a cult leader, and a math teacher. And how their lives intersect in this place where anything is possible. A long book, but well worth the read. Possibly the best thing he’s written thus far.” — Jill Knight, Accountant

House of Stone , by Anthony Shadid, is ultimately a search for identity disguised as a book about interior design. After covering the war in Iraq, and filing for divorce with his wife, New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid returns to Lebanon to rebuild his family house, having been plundered in the Lebanese Civil War. Admittedly, this book can be a trying read for those who don’t know how to read it. Though interspersed throughout the narrative are searing moments that cut universally. On displacement and diaspora, Shadid writes, ‘I worried that my solitude was the legacy of families forever doomed to departures.’ Whether in Marjayoun, or in New York City, lines like these will always ring true.” — Geoff Mak, Designer

“The last book I read was an oldie but a goodie: The Count of Monte Cristo . My boyfriend gave it to me for my birthday because I’m obsessed with Revenge, and the show is very loosely based on Dumas’ story — except, instead of the protagonist enacting his revenge, it’s his hot, sociopathic daughter and all of the action is set in the Hamptons instead of Europe.” — Caroline Stanley, Managing Editor

American Psycho , by Brett Easton Ellis. Grotesque, macabre and unflinching in its depiction of life as pure surface. Not one you want to read on the tube if you’re self-conscious someone will be wondering what you’re grimacing at.” — Oliver Spall, London Social Media Manager

“I just finished The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas and it was both a page-turner and sheer delight. It’s about a man who finds himself adrift in the world of niche mags like for tea or crochet or cave-diving aficionados. As the character says, he meets people who ‘are doing what they’d rather be doing,’ and in the end, it’s a book about setting one’s own pace in life. Plus there’s a salient and hilarious subplot about domestic terrorism.” — Shana Nys Dambrot, Flavorpill LA Contributor

Books We’re Reading Now:

“Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections . It’s as good as everyone says it is, and I don’t know if I can add anything useful beyond that. I often find myself wondering how many people actually see life as his protagonists do; and despite how wildly depressing that train of thought is, I still can’t put this book down.” — Jack Lenehan, Developer

Violence Girl by Alice Bag. A rock ‘n’ roll memoir that breaks from the tired Behind the Music formula, Violence Girl tells the story of the first few decades in the life of Alice Bag. The future frontwoman of legendary LA punk band The Bags reveals her history through a series of short vignettes that take us from her childhood, as Alicia Armandariz, the awkward, bookish daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, through her college days, living the Hollywood punk dream at the infamous Canterbury Apartments, and beyond. Bag’s powerful voice, contagious zest for life, and complex thoughts on growing up make this a great read even for those who aren’t punk-rock superfans.” — Judy Berman, Deputy Editor

Slaughterhouse Five . Vonnegut’s classic is one I can’t help but re-read every few years. It has to be, oddly, the most playful yet still-really-freaking-sad twist ever on the classic war novel. Bonus points for telling you on the first page exactly how it ends, and in doing so, makes the ending even more poignant. So it goes.” — Kim Gardner, Associate Product Manager

“Ben Lerner’s cleverly moving novel, Leaving The Atocha Station , manages to be cynical without taxing its overwhelming sincerity. It addresses the nature of lived experience — and the limits on how to articulate it — which brings to mind the writings of Kierkegaard and the Negative Theologians. However, Lerner’s voice is accessible, colloquial as much as it is profound, and urgent in addressing both the aesthetic and political issues of post-9/11 America.” — Geoff Mak, Designer


The Complete Claudine by Colette. The Parisian cult store is named after the romantic and controversial author. I can’t come up with better words to describe the series, so here’s a quote from the intro: ‘The paradoxes of great literature are those of human nature, and Colette is nothing if not human… Accessible and elusive; greedy and austere; courageous and timid; subversive and complacent; scorchingly honest and sublimely mendacious; an inspired consoler and an existential pessimist — these are the quality of the artist and the woman. It is time to rediscover them.’ Yup, that pretty much sums it up ;)” — Claire Cottrell, Design Editor.

“I’m currently reading Lorrie Moore’s long-awaited 2009 novel, A Gate at the Stairs — something which I’m sheepish to admit that I’ve been meaning to do since it first came out. Moore is one of my favorite contemporary writers; her prose is just so wry and descriptive without making you feel like she’s trying too hard to be clever.” — Caroline Stanley, Managing Editor

Du côté de chez Swann , by Marcel Proust. Verbose, navel gazing, but wonderfully obtuse French literature. I’m struggling to manage more than five pages a day.” — Oliver Spall, London Social Media Manager

“In the middle of reading both Whip Smart by Melissa Febos, a really interesting and well written memoir about her time working as a dominatrix in NYC, and Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, about the neuroscience of creativity. I’d recommend the second highly to anyone who is trying for an artistic career or life — Lehrer is a fantastic writer and makes fascinating connections using a crazy array of research from unexpected places.” — Sophie Weiner, Social Media Manager

This is How by Augusten Burroughs, the author of Running with Scissors. It’s half self-help book and half-autobiographical. I don’t generally go for self-help books, but he’s a compelling author. He’s a person who’s weathered more than his fair share of crazy things in his life. Funny and sad at the same time. Very quick read, big font with large margins. Not everything will be relevant to you in this book, but all sound advice.” — Jill Knight, Accountant

Books We Can’t Wait to Read:

“Toni Morrison’s Home . It’s a tragedy I don’t even own a copy of this yet, because my god, it’s calling to me.” — Russ Marshalek, Social Media Director

“Gene Wolfe’s Urth of the New Sun : Stiiilllll planning to read this next.” — Jack Lenehan, Developer

Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian. Michel Gondry’s filming the adaptation in Paris right now! I can’t really imagine a more enchanting premise for a book: a man who marries a woman who develops an illness (a water lily in her lungs) that can only be treated by surrounding her with flowers. I don’t know which I’m more excited for: reading the book, M. Gondry’s interpretation of it or seeing Audrey Tatou play the ailing heroine.” — Claire Cottrell, Design Editor

The Emperor’s Children . I hear this novel by Claire Messud (incidentally married to James Wood of The New Yorker) is all about young, entitled New Yorkers with unlikable personalities (and even worse ratings on Amazon) who complain about their privileged lives until September 11th happens. This is actually a good thing for me.” — Geoff Mak, Designer

“Next up, I plan to read Rachel Dratch’s newish book Girl Walks Into a Bar…: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle . Like everyone else, I really loved Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling’s recent memoirs, so I’m interested to see if this under-appreciated funny lady delivers, too.” — Caroline Stanley, Managing Editor

“José Saramago’s Blindness . I’ve been meaning to read this for ages.” — Oliver Spall, London Social Media Manager