One Book A Month Club | January 2018

Caution: This post contains Startup: A Novel spoilers.

My favorite blogger-turned-YouTuber Lauren Elizabeth is blogging again! I am so happy! Her videos are great, but I prefer written content and photos over YouTube when it comes to fashion, skincare and lifestyle (makeup is a different story).

One of the first posts on her new site outlines her so-called One Book A Month Club, and I was so intrigued that I thought it would be fun to do something similar on Haute Mess so my readers could follow along.

Lauren shared that it has been her New Year’s resolution for the past two years to read one book a month, and this year I unknowingly made myself the same promise. Like Lauren shares in her post, reading one book per month is so rewarding, and it’s a great way to escape reality.

For the past year I haven’t gotten much of a chance to read any literature of my own choosing because I’ve been in a grad school program that has a ton of required reading. Though everything I’ve been required to read has been rewarding, it can be dense at times, and I’ve definitely been missing more leisurely reads.

In the past I loved titles like the White Girl Problems series by Babe Walker, The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, The A-List series by Zoey Dean and various self-help books such Do Less: A Minimalist Guide To A Simplified, Organized And Happy Life by Rachel Jonat and The Trump Card by Ivanka Trump.

When it comes to fiction, I like fun and exciting books; I rarely go for extreme, gory thrillers or anything supernatural. But, I also enjoy self-help books from inspirational and successful women.

That being said, my first book of 2018 was a fiction piece called Startup: A Novel by Doree Shafrir. Currently, I’m reading another fiction piece titled Sex And Rage: A Novel by Eve Babitz for the month of February.

So, let’s get started on the Startup discussion, and I’ll have all the details on Sex And Rage in a few weeks. Spoilers ahead…

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that this is one of, if not, the best book I’ve ever read; I was hooked from the beginning. There are so many books that I’ve read half of (or more!) before I could actually get into them. (And there are quite a few I’ve finished but did not get into at all). Not Startup.

Similarly, there’s been a number of novels that weren’t bad, but after finishing them, they just left me thinking so what? That is not the case with Startup, either. But, maybe that’s because it hits close to home in both a literal and a figurative sense.

It takes place in New York City and focuses on three main protagonists: Mack McAllister (a 20-something, seemingly successful startup founder), Katya Pasternack (a young reporter at a digital publication) as well as her boss Dan, who’s slightly older, and Sabrina Choe Blum, (a mom-of-two who gave up life as a homemaker to become social media manager at Mack’s startup, and who so happens to be Dan’s wife).

Katya and Sabrina (as well as Katya’s (soon-to-be ex-)boyfriend Victor, the co-founder of a failed startup, and Sabrina’s boss Isabel, who is 10 years younger than Sabrina and had a secret fling with her boss Mack McAllister) cross paths at an exclusive dinner party hosted by Isabel’s new love interest.

When Isabel drunkenly leaves her iPhone on the coffee table around which Katya and Sabrina are chatting, it starts a chain of events that affect the entire New York City startup community.

According to Dan (Katya’s boss), there’s a possibility that her job is at stake, so at the time of the dinner party (which is supposedly off the record), she is on the hunt for a groundbreaking story that will impress the higher-ups at her publication.

And when she and Sabrina accidentally see the series of raunchy text messages Mack sends Isabel, she gets her first lede: the young founder of a multimillion-dollar NYC startup harassing one of his female employees via text message.

Katya takes a picture of Isabel’s phone screen with her phone, then goes into the kitchen to give her her phone back, acting as if nothing happened. She’s shocked when Isabel takes her phone and nonchalantly puts it in her pocket without looking at it, then puts her arm around her newest fling without a care in the world.

All the while, Sabrina and Dan’s relationship isn’t faring so well, either. She’s fed up with him working long hours and not doing his fair share of housework; he’s more interested in his work life than his home life–and even kisses Katya after she meets up with him one evening to vent about work.

At the same time, Katya and Victor’s relationship is also on the rocks. He’s been moody and needy ever since his startup failed, leaving him out of work; she’s been extremely stressed over the possibility of being cut from her job. In a way, she didn’t hate the kiss from Dan, but ends up avoiding him at work in the following days.

Mack hosts a going-away party for one of his best employees who’s leaving to pursue a career at another startup, and while giving a toast, Isabel loudly interrupts, calling Mack out on the bullshit (for lack of a better term) he’s put her through in recent weeks.

Soon after, a mysterious, anonymous Twitter count receives an audio recording of the event and reveals Mack’s actions to the entire NYC startup community. It is then, with Isabel’s approval, Katya decides to publish the story.

After the story is out and Katya is able to tweet it for all to see, she and Dan go outside for a smoke break (something they do regularly throughout the novel), and he reveals to her that he is the face behind the anonymous Twitter account. She is so upset by the news, Dan suggests she takes the rest of the day off and goes inside without her.

While still in front of the office building, which Katya’s publication shares with Mack’s startup, she bumps into Sabrina, who is on her way to Isabel’s to console her. Katya asks to tag along.

Though Isabel truly wanted to get her story out there in the hopes that it would help other young women in similar situations, she is still understandably upset. While at Isabel’s apartment with Sabrina, Katya reveals Dan runs the anonymous Twitter account. Sabrina is just as angered as Katya, and the novel ends–somewhat abruptly–right there in Isabel’s apartment.

This, in my opinion, leaves the reader thinking that Sabrina will be leaving Dan and (possibly!) Mack’s startup, too; because of all the turmoil, things are not looking so bright for Mack’s startup in general. And given their argument, work with Dan will be awkward-at-best for Katya.

I’m dying for a sequel. Startup is the perfect balance of satirical, entertaining, smart and meaningful. Plus, if you’re a millennial, it’s insanely relatable. Reading Startup was honestly the perfect way to escape reality, so I’m a little pissed at myself for getting through all 304 pages in four or five sittings. But I just couldn’t help it–it was that good. This novel is definitely going to be a tough act to follow.

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read Startup, or are you into other types of lit? If you’ve read it, let me know what you think! If not, I’d love to hear what your current reads are 🙂

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