We're bookworms here at StyleBistro, and we understand that finding your next great read can sometimes be as frustrating as searching for a special-occasion outfit—they never seem to materialize when you actually need one. We also know how inspiring the written word can be, which is why we combed through this month's new releases and paired our top picks with a beauty or fashion item that corresponds to each tome. Be sure to check back each month for a fresh batch of stylish reads.
Cristina Velocci, Deputy Editor: Funny Girl: A Novel by Nick Hornby ($28, out February 3 from Riverhead Books)
If you've never read one of British author Nick Hornby's books, you've at least seen one of his films—he's the screenwriter behind An Education and Wild, and his first two novels (Fever Pitch and High Fidelity) were both adapted for the big screen. I had fallen into the latter camp before I picked up his latest work of fiction, Funny Girl, which follows Sophie Straw (née Barbara Parker), a young aspiring comedienne who leaves her provincial upbringing to make it big in 1960s London. Whereas I'm used to books fueled by narrative plot-twists, Hornby reminded me that an adrenaline rush is not the only thing that constitutes enjoyable reading—here, cliffhangers are replaced by multidimensional characters and their witty dialogue. Although Straw is the story's central character, it follows everyone involved in the production of the hit show, Barbara (and Jim), she ends up starring in, tackling themes of love, celebrity and aging along the way. I've paired the book with a mod shift reminiscent of a solid yellow one Straw wears at a pinnacle point in the narrative, opting for a palm print as a nod to her beachside beauty pageant beginnings and the sunny future that lies ahead.
Dana Burke, Assistant Editor: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak ($15, out February 3 from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
I’d first like to start off by apologizing to the people of the 6 train for the endless giggles during my morning and afternoon commute. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak is to blame. This hilarious collection of short stories by The Office actor, writer and executive producer made it hard to keep my typical stone-faced travel demeanor up for the duration of my trips. Innovative, thought-provoking narratives on topics ranging from the children’s story “The Tortoise and the Hare” to the idea of heaven and what happens in the afterlife will leave you extra entertained. It helped that each well-written piece was succinct enough to finish on a one-way subway trip. You’ll feel satisfied with each new account presented in this playful book, and perhaps inspired enough to write a short story of your own. This stylish fabric-covered journal ($20) houses a notebook and pencil holder to pen your own fictional novel. Happy reading and writing!
Kristina Rodulfo, Associate Editor: Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore ($25, out February 17 from HarperWave)
My transition to natural beauty products has been a radical journey. One day, I'm slathering on drugstore makeup without a care and the next, I am obsessively looking up multisyllabic ingredients and their alarming side effects. It is safe to say I have completely changed my ways for good, and Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin by Adina Grigore, the founder of natural skincare line S.W. Basics, has reinvigorated my lifestyle change. If you are interested in banishing skin ailments of any kind, this book will show you the steps you need to take and help you understand the root causes in a relatable, tell-it-like-it-is voice. You'll get amazing DIY head-to-toe natural skincare recipes, a thorough breakdown of the shockingly unregulated beauty industry and the harsh truths about the way you eat and how it shows on your face. That being said, Grigore's advice is not at all patronizing, but empowering. By the end of the book, you will be more knowledgeable than ever about the benefits of an organic skincare routine, wholesome eating and the powerful practice of self-evaluation. To make things easy, kickstart your road to clear skin with a kit of natural skincare goodies from Grigore's line.
Ann Brady, Executive Editor: Never Sleep Alone by Alex Schiller ($12, out February 3 from Gallery Books)
I first saw Dr. Alex Schiller (note: she’s not a real doctor) perform her wildly popular comedy and dating act last year in New York City. She’s taken her live show and put together a dating manual for the masses bearing the same name of her headliner, Never Sleep Alone. You would think it would be all about how to play the irresistible game of attracting a man—which in part it is—but not by temporary tricks. What she is really getting at is to be irresistible to yourself—you know, love yourself before you can love someone else. She just happens to make you laugh uncontrollably coming to this realization. I chose my favorite perfume Stella by Tocca ($68) to go with this read. I can’t wear it without someone coming up to me and asking what it is. And it makes me feel great in helping to reflect upon my own up-and-down journey to happiness.
Caitlin Miller, Senior Associate Beauty Editor: The Bird Market of Paris by Nikki Moustaki ($19, out February 10 from Henry Holt and Co.)
Having a passion in life is one of the greatest gifts I personally think we're given in this world. When reading Nikki Moustaki's latest memoir, The Bird Market of Paris, it's beyond evident to see what the poet and author's passion in life is: birds. The sometimes dark yet always thought-provoking memoir follows the author's childhood love for birds, which was instilled in her by her grandfather. As we join the author through her struggles with addiction, we see just how Moustaki's passion for birds, love of family and personal struggles culminate with a trip to Paris to seek redemption. Although there were definitely somber moments in this piece, I always felt the author's hopefulness and passion ringing through, giving her and this memoir wings to soar. I couldn't help but think this Alex and Ani feather necklace was a perfect match.
Katie Davidson, Associate Editor: I am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet by Leora Tanenbaum ($13, out February 3 from Harper Collins)
In her introduction, Tanenbaum notes that many shock-jocks that invited her to speak on their shows in the '90s about her first book, Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, were disappointed to learn it was about the serious topic of bullying as opposed to something more promiscuous and sexually liberating in nature. I must admit I had similar notions when I first caught a glimpse of her follow-up book, which actually addresses how bullying has evolved into cyber-bullying in the Internet age. I was relieved to learn it wasn't about sensationalizing promiscuity and intrigued to learn her take on how it impacts adolescent women. While I don't believe men and women should be held to double standards, I do feel young girls need stronger role models to look to outside reality television and pop culture stars that often flaunt their sexuality for shock value, ratings and popularity. Tanenbaum points out that teenage girls who consume such messages often become targets or victims of cyber-bullying, which can lead to negative body image and sometimes even tragic consequences. The author believes the word slut, even if used as a joke, should never be used to describe a woman. Remind yourself and others to instead speak kindness with a stylish statement necklace boasting a positive message ($38)—this one even donates 25 percent of proceeds to The Farley Project, an anti-bullying organization.
Bethany Cantor, Style Editor: Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano by Dana Thomas ($22, out February 10 from Penguin Press)
This book is a well-paced, detail-rich exploration of the intense trials and incredible innovation of both Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. The book's release is made even more impactful in that it coincides with the five-year anniversary of McQueen's tragic suicide and Galliano's new appointment as creative director of Maison Martin Margiela. Dana Thomas takes an unflinching look at the two bad boys of high fashion—sparing no unflattering detail—and yet, she manages to also shine a light on their ground-breaking influence on the fashion world. Fashion-lovers and professionals should consider Thomas' eye-opening book required reading.
Want even more book-and-product pairings? Make sure to check out our January selections in the slideshow below:
And don't miss our book picks and pairings from 2014: