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Every Book Ladies lit Squad Have Read So Far!

Here is a list of every book my book club Ladies lit Squad have read so far! So if you want to read along with us you can get going. All books are written by women (of course).

How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
Living The Dream by Lauren Berry
The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray Browne
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
Riders by Jilly Cooper
Circe by Madeline Miller
Valley of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

How to Murder Your Life

Cat Marnell is a polarising character, by that I don’t mean your either love her or you hate her. I mean she changes your own mind about her several times in one paragraph. To give this context, Cat, is a drug addict. Her memoir How to Murder Your Life was written, we presume, under the influence so it’s raw, erratic and sometimes hard to read (she’s a fan of a !!!!!!!!!!!). On the flipside it’s this honesty and vulnerability that makes her so likeable.
Cat takes us through her very privileged upbringing, boarding school and then to the hallowed halls of Conde Nast where she was a beauty editor at Lucky magazine. So far, so good – but her parents are distant, damaged phycologists who put her on Adderall as a kid (to which she soon becomes addicted), at boarding school she’s high, has a failed relationship and traumatic abortion, and her years in New York are a crack-fest of mishaps, loneliness and tragedy.

As enviable as her life from the outside is, Cat is careful to let readers know the truth of it. On the surface she was a successful, rich woman with a glamorous job. But scratch the surface and she was conning shrinks into prescribing her drugs and slowly losing her mind.

Cat-Marnell-Lipstick

The author

The most interesting parts of the book are just how she continued to get away with such awful behavior and being strung out on drugs at work. In our book club, we briefly discussed whether her experience would have been the same as a WOC (we thought not). Her ‘best friend’ Marco is also a large part of the story, and without wanting to spoil it – he is the friend from HELL. A real Machiavellian character that makes you feel truly sorry for Marnell.

With cameos by Nev Shulman, Eva Chen and The Fat Jew, How to Murder Your Life is a glam and glossy look at Manhattan life. Cat’s drug addiction is a welcome antidote (a literary antidote, not that I’m saying it’s a good thing) to all the glitz.

I was definitely intrigued by Cat Marnell and did a lot of further reading, especially of her Vice column and New York Times interview. Although the subject matter is a little dark, Cat Marnell is funny, genuinely funny. And self-aware – she’s the first person to point out her privilege and her manipulation of people. What’s interesting is that she’s unapologetic about it.

Read about Ladies Lit Squad book club HERE

living the dream

Living The Dream by Lauren Berry

This was the book we read for our second Ladies Lit Squad book club and we were also lucky enough to have the author come and talk about the book. Living The Dream is a tongue in cheek title that will be a familiar refrain to those of us who headed to the bright lights of London for a career in fashion, media or, like the lead character in this novel, work in advertising. There’s a constant pressure in life, especially in London, to have it all. And this book is about not quite getting there. A great read for twenty-somethings who don’t have it all figured out yet.

Buy it HERE

the upstairs room

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

Ladies Lit Squad read this for our third meeting and this modern-day ghost tale really resonated with the group. It’s the tale of Richard, Eleanor and their two children and Zoe, their ‘mercurial’ 27-year-old lodger. The couple buy a bargain house in London Fields, only to find that it may very well be haunted. This isn’t really a ghost story – it’s more about the relationships between the characters, who are all multi-layered and well rounded. I read this in a day, it’s fast-paced and perfect for a cold Sunday indoors.

Buy it HERE

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Okay, warning, this book made me cry – no, weep. It is the saddest book in the history of all the world and just amazing. This isn’t actually a new book for me, I first read it a couple of years ago and knew that I’d have to revisit it. The book is a beast, it’s so long, but unsurprising when the writer lovingly chronicles almost the entire lives of the four main characters. Jude is the star of the book and you’ll keep reading to find out just what happened in his past. Read once and you’ll never forget this amazing book.

Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin

I was a little dubious at first when reading this. The subject matter is pretty dark, but the narrator is an eleven-year-old girl and most of the characters are primary school age – so it’s a little jarring. But I guess that’s the point and it’s really refreshing to read children portrayed in this way, rather than angel-faced innocents. After a friend dies, Thera takes it upon herself to find the killer with… unexpected results. I don’t want to spoil this book but after I finished reading I literally had the face of Kevin from Home Alone for about 30 minutes.

Riders by Jilly Cooper

This was set for my book club as recently we’ve been reading lots of heavy books about murder, rape, you name it. So a bit of Jilly was needed as a palate cleanser – and believe it or not, I’d never read any JC books before. At 900+ pages and with a cast of characters to rival any soap, Riders is a beast, but I enjoyed it so much. It’s hilarious, especially RCB’s off-colour quips. I even found the horsey stuff riveting and I will be reading sequel Rivals ASAP.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This was the book for my Ladies Lit Squad book club and was definitely up there as one of our fave reads. Circe is sort of a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey but from a female perspective, that of the goddess Circe. You’ll know if you studied classics that female voices and perspectives are all to often overlooked, so this book was so refreshing. In the Odyssey Circe is ridiculed but Madeline Miller chips away at the surface of a woman who has known great tragedy, a horrible family and suffered being cast out alone – and still managed to become powerful, independent and make a life for herself. The novel spans centuries (Circe is immortal after all) and I loved the guest appearances from Greek gods and legends. A must read.

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