With everyone from Oprah and Reese Witherspoon to Emma Watson and Lena Dunham starting their own groups, it seems like nowadays there are more celebrity book clubs than one reader could possibly join, but if you want to join in on a community that recommends fierce and feminist reads, look no further than Belletrist. This month, Emma Roberts's book club picked not one, but two nonfiction titles for July, and trust me when I say both books should be considered required summer reading.
Every month, over 178,000 followers tune into the Belletrist Instagram page to see what the Scream Queens actress and her best friend and book club cofounder Karah Preiss are reading. This July, bookworms were treated to two incredible selections, both nonfiction and both totally engrossing reads.
First up: Alice Bolin's Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving and American Obsession. A fascinating collection that combines feminist cultural criticism and personal storytelling, it examines popular and often troublesome tropes in famous works of pop culture, literature, and true crime, from the essays of Joan Didion to the music of Britney Spears and beyond.
"Bolin's essays are the perfect blend of criticism, humor, & memoir," Roberts wrote on the Belletrist Instagram page alongside the announcement of July's selection. "The book made me think about my own fascination with true crime in a way I have never considered before. This is a book for any mystery/true crime fanatic.... or even a casual fan."
As the title implies, Bolin's debut collection Dead Girls heavily focuses on our cultural obsession with murdered women, and uses the lens of pop culture, literature, true crime, and the author's own personal experiences to investigate it. In each essay, Bolin examines not just how we tell stories about the Dead Girl on shows like True Detective or podcasts like Serial, but why we chose to tell them, over and over again in every creative form available to us. In one piece, she explores why young women are drawn to stories about teen witches, and how women in fiction use magic as a means of survival. In another, she reexamines her own obsession with the iconic writer joan Didion, whose work inspired Bolin to move to L.A. in 2014. A balanced blend of cultural criticism and memoir, Dead Girls also chronics Bolin's life in Los Angeles, a city famous for not only it's famous Hollywood stars, but it's macabre history of murdered women.
Bolin's killer collection isn't Belletrist's only pick this month; Casey Legler's Godspeed was also selected for summer reading. A powerful coming-of-age story about loneliness, addiction, and survival, this beautiful and breathtaking new memoir chronicles the troubled life of a young Olympian swimmer sent far from home and compelled to compete at the highest levels. Away from her family and unsure of herself, Legler struggles to keep her head above the water as her own alienation, the pressure to be the best, and increasing drug and alcohol use threaten to pull her under.
"Godspeed is unlike anything I've ever read," Belletrist cofounder Karah Preiss said of the book club's second July selection. "Legler's writing feels like reading Hunter S. Thompson underwater. It is a truly unique coming of age story about being born with the mark of intensity."
Whether you are looking for a smart essay collection that combines feminist criticism with pop culture and personal storytelling, or a searing memoir about breaking through the darkness to find the light, Belletrist has you covered.