cut book club

9 Books We’re Reading Right Now

The Cut’s January book club

To kick off 2017, the Cut is reading about cats, trees, sex, and everything in between. We’re also diving into books that will mentally prepare us for the craziness of the coming year, from Rebecca Solnit’s essays to Barbara Ehrenreich’s reporting on minimum-wage work.

1. Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
“I never thought I’d be so engrossed in a book about a young Mennonite woman in Mexico who by chance begins to work on a film shoot — yet Toews’s writing is sensitive, funny, smart, and so heartbreaking you almost have to read through squinted eyes. A particularly poignant scene wherein three sisters play a game called Baby Detective will never, ever be dislodged from my brain.” —Dayna Evans, Senior Writer

2. Land of the Living by Ashlee Haze
“Midway through Blood Orange’s ‘By Ourselves,’ a sample of Ashlee Haze’s ‘for colored girls who don’t need Katy Perry when Missy Elliot is enough’ crashes through. The song captures only a few lines from the absorbing poem: “A 26-year-old woman who learned how to dance until she felt pretty/feminism wear a throwback jersey, bamboo earrings, and a face beat for the gods,” she begins. I was hooked. So I bought her book of poems, and each verse is more captivating than the last. The book is short — only 44 pages — which makes every poem feel precious. You won’t regret this purchase.” —Ashley Weatherford, Associate Beauty Editor

3. About Trees by Katie Holten
“Right off the bat, I have to say this is a fairly annoying book to read in public. It’s so beautiful everyone wants to talk to me about it — whether I’m literally crying on the subway or just trying to mind my own business at the bar. In brief: Katie Holten created a tree alphabet, and pulled together different pieces across different genres about trees, all of which are translated into her tree alphabet.” —Aude White, Communications Manager

4. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
“In 2017 I’m making an effort to read a different book each month that will help me better contextualize the current political situation. Since Barbara Ehrenreich’s best seller Nickel and Dimed came out in 2001, when I was more interested in reading trashy YA, I’m reading it now for the first time, and loving it. In the book, Ehrenreich takes a series of low-paying jobs — waitress, maid, home-health-care aid — and writes about the experience of trying to live off of the minimum wage while working upwards of 18 hours a day. Spoiler alert: It’s completely unsustainable. Although it came out 15 years ago, the stories included in Nickel and Dimed make movements like the Fight for $15 seem all the more necessary.” —Jessica Roy, News Editor

5. The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker
“While the title of this book suggests a bit of a fluffy story, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s more of a story about evolution. In the beginning of mankind, we were at war with some of the most deadly species on earth: cats — leopards, panthers, mountain lions, etc. Over time, we became smarter than cats and evolved to the top of the food chain. This book explores how cats went from creatures we feared and conquered to animals that we cuddle and bring into our homes. It makes you think about what’s really going on inside your own cat’s head — because the house cat is still an animal built to kill.” —Erica Murphy, SEO Editor

6. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
“Rebecca Solnit’s most recent collection of essays opens with an anecdote: She’s telling a man about a book she’s written on the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. When she mentions Muybridge, the man cuts her off and asks if she’s heard about the ‘very important’ Muybridge book that came out earlier that year. It takes Solnit several tries to communicate to the man that yes, she has — she wrote it. So begins Solnit’s examination of the way women are treated in almost every context: geopolitical, romantic, artistic. Ironically, I have my woke ex-boyfriend to thank for picking up this contribution to the feminist literary canon, which is equal parts inspiring and infuriating in its truth.” —Claire Landsbaum, Staff Writer

7. Jesus Saves by Darcey Steinke
“I read and loved this book as an angsty teen. Feel like returning to a time when your biggest problems were relayed through song lyrics on LiveJournal? Read this book. Told in alternating points of view, Jesus Saves explores dark suburban notes—kidnapping, death obsession, a headless deer—with a piercing oddness. It’s sure to gesture toward the difficult-to-name longings of your inner teen.” —Jen Gann, Senior Copy Editor

8. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
“Ephron’s essay on feeling like the only female intern Kennedy didn’t hit on at the White House couldn’t be more relevant today, and her sense of humor is a comfort amid the dense discourse surrounding women’s issues online. This collection from the writer of When Harry Met Sally embraces the many stages of womanhood with a smirk, from aging and hosting a dinner party, to the importance of getting your own apartment in New York, and divorce.” —Leah Rodriguez, Producer

9. What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire by Daniel Bergner
“Not to be confused with the Mel Gibson movie, this fascinating exploration of female sexuality uses scientific research and a compilation of first-person testimonies to upend the notion that women are naturally less lustful than their male counterparts. Exploring a range of topics from female fantasies to sexual fluidity to the elusive internal orgasm, Bergner makes a radical (and convincing) argument that many of our beliefs about women’s sexuality are an illusion required to bolster society’s commitment to monogamy.” —Anna Silman, Culture Writer

9 Books We’re Reading Right Now