Join The Mighty's Summer Book Club
Is it just me, or was June exhausting?
As The Mighty’s editorial director of news and lifestyle, I’m constantly reading the news and surfing through social media. Keeping up with the news cycle and staying informed is exhausting, and spending so much time on the internet has turned reading — something I typically love — into a chore. But, it’s summer. I could use a break — and I’m willing to bet you could, too.
If you’ve been following along with My Mighty Month, our monthly self-care challenge series, then you already know the drill. Each month, we challenge readers to take on a new self-care-promoting task. Sometimes they are on the lighter side — like our happiness or self-love challenges. Other times, they require significant work — like our forgiveness or needs challenges.
This month, we’re challenging you to get offline and read. For the next 31 days, we want you to prioritize taking some time to relax with a good book. You can pick your own book or you can join us in reading one (or more) of the books we’ve picked for our summer book club.
The three books we’ve chosen are: “The Answers” by Catherine Lacey, “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green and “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang. Each book features plotlines about chronic illness, mental health or disability.
If you don’t like reading, you can download our picks as audiobooks, or spend July doing something else you enjoy, like painting, doing a puzzle, playing music or catching up with an old friend.
For those who want to read along with us, we’ll be sharing discussion questions, Q&As with the authors, printable bookmarks and other exclusive content in our My Mighty Month newsletter. Those who sign up for the newsletter will have the chance to enter our summer book giveaway to win a copy of one of our selections!
‘The Answers’ by Catherine Lacey
In Catherine Lacey’s ‘The Answers’ we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the ‘Girlfriend Experiment,’ the brainchild of an eccentric actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship—even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles. Mary is hired as the ‘Emotional Girlfriend’—certainly better than the ‘Anger Girlfriend’ or the ‘Maternal Girlfriend’—and is pulled into Kurt’s ego-driven and messy attempt at human connection.
Jordan’s take: As a young woman with chronic pain who’s taken on an extra job or two to pay medical bills, I found Mary, the book’s protagonist, painfully relatable. The book captures what it’s like — both emotionally and physically — to try and recover from pain the medical system can’t seem to adequately explain or address. Would recommend for those who are going through a tough time with their own illnesses as well as those who like stories with a science fiction or dystopic bent.
Content warning: Sexual assault, not appropriate for younger readers.
‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.
Haley’s take: I’ve always been a huge fan of author John Green. When I read “Turtles All the Way Down,” Green truly stole my heart. He had managed to put words down on paper that made me feel like someone else knew what it was like to live in a brain like mine (not to mention, the book has a great plot line). If you struggle with intrusive thoughts or compulsive behaviors, I would highly recommend reading this book. It made me feel less alone, and I hope it does the same for you.
Content warning: “Turtles All the Way Down” discusses death and illustrates obsessive and intrusive thoughts.
‘The Kiss Quotient’ by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.
It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…
Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…
Elizabeth’s take: I read “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang and was immediately hooked. As much as it’s a story about love between two people, it’s a story about self-love and acceptance. The main character, Stella, is autistic and she decides to hire a male escort to learn how to be in a relationship. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with the male escort, who secretly has his own issues he needs to work through.
Like Stella, Hoang is also autistic and this story helped her come to terms with her own “label,” as Stella calls it. The book does a great job of showing a real autistic character, who, like many people, has a desire to love and connect with others.
Content warning: Mature themes, not appropriate for younger readers.
Want to make July a Mighty Month? Join us on Facebook at My Mighty Month, and don’t forget to tag any social media posts with #MightyBookClub. You can also sign up for our My Mighty Month emails, (select “Mighty Monthly Challenges” from the newsletter options), for exclusive content and our book giveaway.