What we’ve been reading: summer edition

Find your next read among our office’s book recommendations.


We tried to do an office book club and it started off strong with The Mandibles. We had the best of intentions when we started, but it turns out it’s really difficult to keep a book club going when we all have such a varying taste in books (or when certain members of the office exclusively read murder mysteries). Instead, take a peek at what some of us read over the summer and find your next great read amongst all of our recommendations.

88 reader: Erin Bury, Managing Director
The book: A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
The TL;DR version: Everyone who knows me knows that I love books that involve murder – thrillers are the type of books that you just can’t put down. This book was one of the my favourite thrillers from the past year – it’s by the author of The Couple Next Door, which was also great, and it’s about a suburban housewife who wakes up in the hospital after finds out that she was in a car accident in a bad part of town. The only problem is she can’t remember why she was there, or what led her to crash. Her husband tries to unravel her story, which gets more complicated when the police discover a dead body in the same area as the crash.
Thoughts: The thrillers I read aren’t exactly Booker Prize candidates, but I read them because a) I have a weird fascination with anything murder-related (crime shows, horror movies, etc), and b) I’m really busy so for a book to keep my attention it needs to pull me in right away. Thrillers tend to do that, and this one was no different – it’s the kind of book you read in one sitting. It doesn’t take up too much mental energy, and this one had a satisfying ending – which is usually the hardest part of writing a great thriller.
Would you recommend it? Yes, I’d recommend it to anyone who loves thrillers as much as I do – especially if you read (and liked) The Couple Next Door.

88 reader: Gabriella Rackoff, Creative Director
The book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
The TL;DR version: It’s a semi-autobiographical novel about a fugitive from Australia who’s hiding out in India. Roberts, like the main character in the book, was a heroin addict who committed a series of armed robberies and escaped from prison.
Thoughts: This book is fast-moving, full of interesting characters and colourful places, and it’s giving me the travel bug, big time. This book is fun enough to be a vacation read, but it’s also legitimately good, so you don’t have to feel guilty for reading it nowhere near a beach.
Would you recommend it? Highly recommended!

88 reader: Morgan Craig, Senior PR Manager
The book: How To Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
The TL;DR version: It’s a memoir that depicts the author’s uphill battle with a prescription drug addiction, all while moving up the ranks at Conde Nast in New York City. She went from being an intern to editor in the beauty departments of NYLON, Teen Vogue, Glamour, and Lucky — all while “doctor shopping” and taking copious amounts of adderall, cocaine, bath salts, and more. Plot twist: her dad was a fancy psychiatrist who first prescribed her Ritalin when she was 14 for ADD, and continued to fill her prescriptions. She’s also friends with The Fat Jewish, so he makes a cameo.
Thoughts: I obviously picked up the book because the cover is cool AF but when I read the back and realized 1. it was a memoir 2. it was about addiction (hello, I love INTERVENTION) and 3. it was about NYC’s fashion world – I knew I needed to read it. As sad and unsettling as it is, Cat writes about her life – wins, losses, major fuckups – in a darkly humourous way. It was fascinating to read about a functioning drug addict and equally as fascinating to find out that when shit hit the fan a.k.a. the media took hold of her unimaginable stories, her career blew up even more – reality show producers, agents, publishing houses – loved her story and wanted to publicize it.
Would you recommend it? Absolutely. I couldn’t stop thinking about Cat after I finished it. I got all my friends to read it and we even made one of our friends read it aloud like an audio book on the drive home from the cottage.

88 reader: Brittany Giles, Digital Marketing Manager
The book: When You Find Out the World is Against You by Kelly Oxford
The TL;DR version: This is Kelly Oxford’s second book and, similar to her first, it’s a collection of short stories and essays all from her life. They cover a wide range of topics from various points of her life and talk about some sad or darker moments with wit and humour (although it’s not actual LOL-funny).
Thoughts: I really enjoy Kelly’s writing and reading her essays feels like longform Twitter. Her writing is so honest and the stories are funny, sad, and thoughtful – her humour is right down my alley. The essay about the hashtag she started (#notokay) is really powerful and all in all this book was the perfect summer park read.
Would you recommend it? Yes! The stories aren’t all in chronological order so that can throw you off a little, but if you’re looking for something with a little humour then I definitely recommend it.

88 reader: Andrea Pace, Digital Marketing Coordinator
The book: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
The TL;DR version: It’s a collection of short stories that aren’t so much about men without women, as there are lots of women. However, they do come and go in these mens’ lives.
Thoughts: Murakami is probably my favourite author. I love his writing – it’s either super surreal and other-worldly, or completely down to earth and minimalist (almost mundane) – either way it’s always an interesting and thoughtful read. Since this book is short stories both his styles of storytelling are used and so far I’m loving it (I only have a few stories left!).
Would you recommend it?  I would definitely recommend it. While Murakami books ALWAYS have the same themes in them, some of his newer stuff has felt a little formulaic, BUT this book is awesome and feels fresh – so yes yes yes, read it.

88 reader: Fatima Almuhtaram, Junior Designer
The book: Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
The TL;DR version: The story follows a mother and her child as they are finishing up a day spent at the zoo. On their way out, they’re faced with a terrifying situation which forces them to take cover. The whole book takes place in about a three hour time frame. It does a good job taking us through the mindset of a mother and the hard decisions that need to be made when survival instincts kick in.
Thoughts: I was definitely expecting something much darker (I’ve been watching too many horror movies lately), but it’s more about the fear about being in that situation as a mother, with your 4 year old. You have to be prepared to be extra strong and make decisions that will go against your motherly instincts. Respect to all mothers out there. Also the book refers to a crazy flood that is happening in Texas which I thought was wild, since there’s one happening right now.
Would you recommend it? Yup. It’s a good, fast-paced read that keeps you engaged, but mainly because you need to know what happens next.