Alexis’s FRIENDSNYC Summer 2023 Book Club Picks

Alexis’s FRIENDSNYC Summer 2023 Book Club Picks

Reading is HOT, but there are so many book recommendations out there. Not sure what to read next? Here’s what Alexis, our favorite Brooklyn bookworm, is actually reading. We guarantee you won’t want to put these four books down! Follow @thebrooklynbookworm for more of Alexis’s reading suggestions.

Why Alexis thinks you should read these books: I love a messy protagonist! There’s something about reading a book about someone making questionable and controversial decisions that makes me feel seen and less alone. The shared human experience of stumbling and staggering is humbling. Mistakes are inevitable, so I truly enjoy laughing, crying, and cringing along with unhinged characters. It’s hard to choose my favorite chaotic character, but here is a list of four oddballs who have recently left a mark on me. Also, we had the pleasure of interviewing each of these books’ authors to learn what makes them perfectly imperfect.  

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankham Matthews Book Cover

Alexis’s HOT take: I had a love hate relationship with messy main character, Sneha, an emotionally detached queer twenty-something-year-old struggling with money issues, work woes, and depression. I’m all for female characters being complicated and selfish, but her avoidance both irritated and interested me. Her failure to ask for help or address problems frustrated me, but it was also comforting to read about a character who didn’t quite know yet how to navigate this cruel world. 

Q&A with Sarah Tinkham Matthews

Sarah Thankham Matthews pictued, author of All This Could Be Different

  • Pronouns: any
  • Currently located in...? Yes, in Brooklyn.
  • Where can we find you on the internet and beyond?, @smathewss on Instagram and Twitter 
  • Fashion trend you’re crushing on right now: I love sheer pieces, whether that’s something really gauzy and ephemeral or ravecore fishnet mesh. I love how it both makes clear the body and a series of outlines around the body. Depending on how you style it, a sheer piece can be tender and romantic or really frank in its sensuality.  
  • What book would you send to space? The Way Things Work Now by David McCauley–if nothing else, it would be a time capsule the aliens could find. 
  • If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Probably teach high school, work for a union, or attempt to start some sort of business hustle. 
  • What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? Character work is both really hard and really fun; a lot of detailed research and a certain kind of acting, slowly, in a room all by yourself. 
  • What are you currently reading? Hangman by Maya Binyam and People Collide by Isle Mcelroy, both out later this year!

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin Book Cover

Alexis’s HOT take: “Big Swiss” follows the misadventures of Greta, a 45-year-old sex therapy transcriptionist who falls in love with a client while listening to their therapy sessions. Greta rarely thinks things through, resulting in her finding herself in the most absurd and unusual situations. She’s crazy, but she is also very funny and all too human.

Q&A with Jen Beagin

Jen Beagin pictured, author of Big Swiss

  • Pronouns: she/her
  • Currently located in...?: Hudson, NY
  • What inspired you to become a writer? Cleaning houses for a living
  • Where can we find you on the internet and beyond? or IG: @jenbeagin  
  • What did you do with your first book advance? I spent my first advance ($500) on a pair of boots I never wore
  • Fashion trend you’re crushing on right now: Embroidery & paper bag waistbands 
  • Which sense could you NOT live without? Taste
  • What is your spirit animal? The ghost of my old dog
  • How many hours a day do you write? Five
  • Who is an influential muse or major inspiration in your life? Mary Gaitskill
  • What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? Staying loose
  • What does self care look like to you? Very cold showers, night gummies
  • What are you currently reading? Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Everyone In This Room Will Someday be Dead by Emily Austin

Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin Book Cover

Alexis’s HOT take: “Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead” is a funny and quirky story about Gilda, a twenty-something year old atheist lesbian who worries nonstop about death. Despite Gilda’s deep depression, panic attacks, and overwhelming desire to please people, this book is hilarious. Not that mental illness should be something we laugh at, but the uncomfortable situations Gilda finds herself in are just so random and hysterical. I loved how author Emily Austin created this eccentric and endearing character to remind us that anxiety and laughter can coexist together. 

Q&A with Emily Austin

Emily Austin, author of Everyone in this room will someday be dead

  • Pronouns: She / Her 
  • Currently located in..?: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 
  • What inspired you to become a writer? I struggled in English class as a kid. I didn’t learn to read until well after most kids and I failed quite a few spelling tests. When I started high school, I had to write a short story. I’d always earned poor marks in English, so I expected my story to receive a charitable C at best. I was thunderstruck when my teacher gave it an an A+. She also entered it in a contest, and it won for my municipality and then for my province. She recommended I be moved to a higher-level class. I genuinely believed myself to be incapable of writing prior to this. Truthfully, I also considered myself to be unintelligent and relatively incompetent. I still consider myself those things in some ways, but less so because of the encouragement of that English teacher. I think of her whenever I’m asked what inspired me to write. 
  • Where can we find you on the internet and beyond? You can find me on Instagram @EmilyRAustinAuthor, Twitter @EmilyRAustin, or TikTok @EmilyAustinAuthor. My website is
  • Fashion trend you’re crushing on right now: I like to wear a single dangly earring. I got my ears pierced at a discount hairdresser’s when I was about ten, but only one of those piercings remains open today. So, I like wearing one earring partly because that’s my only option, barring a visit to Claire’s, or risking infecting myself by forcing an earring through my old scar tissue. (Though I suppose I could also see an actual piercer…) I like the one earring look. Sometimes I find a cool charm or a bead in a craft store, or while thrifting, and I weave it into a little gold hoop and wear it as an earring. One of my sisters is a talented thrifter, and she’s gifted me nicer earrings. She gave me a pair with a little ruby in them recently.
  • What book would you send to space? Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg.
  • Who is an influential muse or major inspiration in your life? I love listening to music by artists like Boygenuis, Elliot Smith, Tracy Chapman, Muna, and Fleetwood Mac. I’m inspired by a number of writers. I re-read Leonard Cohen a lot. Lately, I’ve also felt very inspired by young people advocating for positive change, like Olivia Julianna, Erin Reed, and other activists.
  • What does selfcare look like to you? I am an anxious person, so I consider calming activities selfcare. This includes the usual things like writing, reading, going for a walk outside, and taking a bath. I also love listening to sad songs and having a drink. I usually drink a mocktail, and by mocktail, I mean exclusively Shirley Temples. I’ve been on a Shirley Temple kick for a while. I used to think grenadine was made of cherries, but ever since I learned it’s made from pomegranates, I’ve found that much more appealing. Not that I don’t like cherries. I also put them in the drink! I make my Shirley Temples with gingerale.
  • What are you currently reading? I just started “The Fake” by Zoe Whittall. It’s about a pathological liar. Zoe also wrote “The Spectacular”, “The Best Kind of People”, “Bottle Rocket Hearts”, among other things. I’m a big fan of hers. I also just finished reading “Bored Gay Werewolf” by Tony Santorella. I really enjoyed it. It felt a lot like reading a Buffy Episode (I love Buffy.)

Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados 

Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados Book Cover

Alexis’s HOT take: This list would truly not be complete without a book that touches on messy friendships! “Happy Hour” is a layered novel about the many complexities of friendships between women. I enjoyed vicariously risk-taking with our main character Isa and her best friend Gala as they gallivanted around NYC, struggling to support and keep up with their fabulous, but severely broke, lifestyles. 

Q&A with Marlowe Granados

Marlowe Granados, Author of Happy Hour

  • Pronouns: She / Her
  • Currently located in...? Toronto
  • What inspired you to become a writer? I’m realizing as I get older that part of being a writer is keeping that sense of play alive, it’s a socially acceptable way to play pretend. 
  • Where can we find you on the internet and beyond? @marlowetatiana
  • One piece of advice you would give to your 12-year-old self today: You’re absolutely right to lean into your most bizarre impulses. 
  • Which sense could you NOT live without? SMELL! I have the strongest sense of smell, almost a little too strong. I should have been an expert nose for a perfumer. I have always had incredibly bad eyesight and I’ve managed so far. 
  • If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? I’d be sourcing vintage designer clothes and furniture…I already do it so much in my spare time. 
  • What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? Sitting down and actually writing! The research and obsession stages are the most fun for me, but I’ve always been bad with discipline. 
  • What are you currently reading? Small Fires by Rebecca May Johnson. 

So that's May through August, but what about the rest of the year? Things take a spookier and more mysterious turn in our book club with these selects: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano, It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections of Horror, Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang, and The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro.

We can't wait to read all of this together with y'all! Stay tuned!