Book Club

Magpie Book Club!

By: Jen Shoop

I didn’t have my act together at the last convening of our Magpie Book Club (digital and in-person both), so I am excited to now share our January Book Club pick: Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.  This book was initially published in 1940 by a 23-year-old McCullers, and it took the literary scene by surprise.  How could a 23 year old write with such depth and finesse?!  My brother has raved about this book for the better part of the last decade (he’s a literature professor, so you should trust him), my father and sister — both avid readers — loved it, and it was more recently touted by the Oprah Book Club and various other literary organizations recognizing the book’s power some 70 years after its debut.  The book is about the deaf-mute John Singer, who “becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer’s mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book’s heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music.”

Let’s finish the book by January 14th.  Local Magpies: I’ll send out an email on the in-person convening shortly.  (If you’re in NYC and want to join, shoot me an email at

Runner up for this month’s book club pick was Kamila Shamsie’s HomeFire (for the second month running — sorry, Kamila!  We’ll get to you!)  We’ll likely read this one in February if anyone is looking for something else to read.

Finally, I am currently reading — and enjoying — Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers (she wrote Big Little Lies).  I had heard that the book was not as good as her earlier work; a few readers suggested that maybe the success of BLL had gotten to her and that she was now more concerned with writing for a potential screenplay adaptation.  But — I am finding it delightfully easy to read.   Her word choice often surprises me (in a good way) and elevates what might otherwise be pedestrian chick lit into something in a different stratosphere.  I’m only 20% through, but the pace is strong and the characters archly-drawn.

What else are you reading?!


+Everlane very generously sent me this gorgeous waffle-knit cashmere sweater (in ivory!) and I have been wearing it everywhere.  I love the slightly boxy fit and of course the luxurious cashmere.  I have actually been wearing it with winter white denim and my TB bow flats (I own them in the taupe / “goan sand” color) — though I think the look would look equally fab paired with these gamine loafers.

+I cannot stop talking about this Ouai leave-in conditioner.  I actually should have added it to my Christmas gift round-up — it’d be a solid gift for a girlfriend or a gift exchange among colleagues or what have you.  This stuff is INCREDIBLE.  My hair tends to get dry in the winter between the heat, the static, and the fact that I highlight it a few times a year.  I apply this to damp hair and it serves as a detangler and glosser while keeping my hair smooth and…hydrated?  Not sure what the right word is there.  And it  Do yourself a favor if you suffer from dry winter hair and snag a bottle.

+While on the topic of hair, I am uber curious about Goop’s Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub.  The editors at Into the Gloss raved about it: “I have unruly hair and have always dreaded shampoo nights—until someone gave me the Goop Scalp Scrub. Now washing my hair is an ACTIVITY. It’s a soft, whipped cream-like mousse with Himalayan salt in it—really satisfying to dip your fingers into. It turns into a cloud when you rub-a-dub your scalp with it, and strips the lengths of buildup as you rinse it off, leaving your head squeaky clean and smelling of essential oils. It’s a clean, color friendly formula, and I love that I only need to shampoo once, yet my hair stays clean longer than with other shampoos I’ve tried. I wish I wasn’t hooked on $42 shampoo, but not being worried about aligning my hair washing schedule with my workout schedule makes it worth it.”

+Also beauty-related: has anyone tried Glossier’s Lash Slick mascara?  I consider myself something of a mascara expert (ha), having tried about two dozen over the course of my career as a lash-obsessed gal.  This stuff keeps coming up in conversation with ladies who know a thing or two about cosmetics.  Intrigued.

+The best class I ever took.  (What was yours?)

+This faux fur beige vest is, in 90s lingo, all that and a bag of chips.

+How do you stay organized?

+Love these floral thermal jammies for mommy and me.

+Ordering this holiday book for mini — set in Manhattan!

+Gap has some chic new finds, including this velvet dress, which looks a lot like the style of a Rhode Resort dress, this cashmere beanie, and this pearl embellished sweatshirt, which I’d pair with light wash jeans.

+A daily check-in worth trying.

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16 thoughts on “Magpie Book Club!

  1. I am intrigued by The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter! I suppose there’s still time to join in before the 14th … I fear that I won’t have a lot of reading time over the break as I’m headed to 3 different states in the span of 10 days, but we shall see. Currently I’m reading Commonwealth by Ann Patchett — I had heard mixed things, but I’m really enjoying it. I’ve also been wanting to read Crazy Rich Asians after seeing the film, but I don’t know if that’s crazy?! Have you ever read the book AFTER seeing the film? Maybe I need to give it a bit of space before I return to that story.

    I will weigh in with a counterpoint to the negative reviews of Lash Slick: I LOVE IT. But you should take my recommendation with a grain of salt, as I am a true minimalist when it comes to makeup — my daily routine involves a few coats of Lash Slick, Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff, and a few swipes of Olio e Osso No. 3 (crimson) on my lips. That’s it! (Not counting products in my skincare routine, mainly serums & moisturizer. Have been loving the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, btw!)

    Anyway, I can totally see how Lash Slick would be too minimal for some women, but I love how it doesn’t flake yet washes off easily with warm water & face wash. 🙂

    1. The take-off regimen is appealing re: lash slick…! Maybe I’m too maximalist for it though when it comes to lashes


  2. Ooh so excited for this pick! I’ll read along. I just finished “Melmoth” by Sarah Perry. Didn’t love it as much as her first, “The Essex Serpent” but regardless, she writes beautifully. Starting Michelle Obama’s next for an easy holiday read, then the new John Boyne!

    Also- I have lash slick! I sometimes like it for a quick day to day swipe, but it generally doesn’t pack enough punch for me. I found I used it more over the summer when my makeup routine was simpler and barer. Now that it’s winter I want my feathery lashes again (Marc Jacobs is my favorite!)

    1. Yay! So glad you’ll be reading along. Please share your thoughts! And thanks for the tip on lash slick. That seems to be the consensus from the comments here! xo

  3. I just finished Nine Perfect Strangers and really enjoyed it! Maybe even more than BLL— I love her sneaky wit. There is a slow patch near the end but keep going : )

    I hate to say it but Glossier’s Lash Slick was a total disappointment! I was really excited about it as a stain but on me it smudged and didn’t do much.

    1. Hi Alex! I agree — I really enjoy the character of Frances in particular. She’s hilarious. I have actually laughed at a few parts, like when Tony’s swimsuit falls off at the pool. Really good comedic timing. Ha!

      Thanks also for the honest review of lash slick. I think I’ll skip. xo

  4. Oooh so appreciative of your hair products recommendations – always on the lookout for new fun products (the only beauty product area I’m willing to experiment). My hairstylist recently recommended Bumble & Bumble’s Scalp Detox – sounds sort of like the Goop hair detox product you linked. And the Ouai conditioner is perfect for my SIL (who I drew this in this year’s secret Santa).

    I have “Nine Perfect Strangers” on hold at my library (see: no room to buy physical books) – looking forward to reading it. Read all of Moriarty’s other books before HBO’s BLL came out – I found them all to be slightly deeper than a beach read – perfectly enjoyable and made me think just a little (if that makes sense).

    1. Yes, exactly — “slightly deeper than a beach read.” The writing, and especially the vocabulary, is a delightful treat. Hope you get to Nine Perfect Strangers soon!


  5. Outside question:
    I sent you an email yesterday asking about the color of your phone case. But, I now remembered that I don’t ever receive your emails. I know once you mentioned to someone you wrote back to me in your comments, but I never received it. Soooo, I checked my junk mail, trash, etc and no luck. Would you mind letting me know what color you chose, because I LOVE everything you pick and imitation is the highest form of flattery! 😉

    1. OMG! I am so sorry to hear that! Yes, I did respond to your email query this morning. I wrote: I got the white, but I was torn for awhile between the white and orange! (Link: ).

      Maybe check to see if you have blocked me somehow? Ahh I’m sorry!


  6. I do love that goop salt scrub. It lasts forever and my scalp feels super clean afterwards. I will say though I find it a little drying for my hair, so I only use it every couple weeks and with a deep treatment conditioner.

    1. Thanks for the caveat! I am wondering if this is a better snag in the summer months, when my hair is less dry to begin with…xo

  7. Thank you for sharing a couple of your favorite hair products! I may try to the Ouai hair oil instead of the spray, but I definitely get dry ends in the winter, so this should help.

    I haven’t read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter yet, so I may try to read this with you digitally. I am just about 2/3 of the way through John Adams and am determined to finish it before I start another book. A 650-page biography is a clog to get through, but I do like the writing and feel like I’m learning something along the way.

    1. Oof – I admire you! That book is supposed to be excellent but far too daunting for me. Ha! One of our book club members commented that books should really not be over 400 pages — and I kind of liked that arbitrary rule of thumb. It’s sort of how I feel about movies: ideally, they should be 90 minutes. Two hours max. Anything longer is pushing it. Is that lame of me?!

      Let me know your thoughts on Ouai. I also adore their texturizing spray!


  8. I’ve just started Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin, after having had it recommended to me at least three times. We’ll see!

    And I have to say I wasn’t impressed by Lash Slick. Perhaps if my eyelashes were already naturally thick? But it was far too minimal for me. I have loved the new Nars Climax mascara!

    1. Oooh, thanks for this rec! I actually hadn’t heard of the Colwin book but am VERY intrigued by the strong reviews. I’m adding it to my reading list.

      Thanks for the honest review of Glossier! xo

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