The No-Obligation Book Club poll is now open.

By Real Simple
Updated January 09, 2014
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Paper construction of a box of Sweethearts by Matthew Sporzynski
Credit: Monica Buck

Hi, Bookies:

I’m always happy when another discussion leader joins our little fold, as with this month. Our rookie moderator is Deb Curtis, the director of audience development at Time Inc.’s Lifestyle Group Digital. What does that mean, exactly? Deb’s team, which works not just with but also,,, and six other brands, gathers all the research that shows how well we are connecting with our audience. They are instrumental in helping us identify what stories you loved, what stories you liked, what stories not so much, important feedback that helps us better deliver the kind of content you’re seeking. So what did Deb deliver in terms of book choices? Four very different picks united by the fact that all are short—in honor of our shortest month! See them below, then cast your vote by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 26.


Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barbery

Sharing both an author and a setting (Number 7, rue de Grenelle) with the beloved The Elegance of the Hedgehog, this slim novel traces the life—and meals—of “the greatest food critic in the world,” now dying.

Embers, by Sandor Marai

Two onetime dear friends, estranged for 41 years, meet again in the deepening shadows of World War II to reminisce about a friendship, a marriage, and a way of life that no longer exists.

Talking With My Mouth Full, by Gail Simmons

This entertaining memoir offers a behind-the-scenes look at a career devoted to food, from the kitchens of famed New York City restaurants to the set of Top Chef.

Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger

Though they originally appeared separately in The New Yorker, Salinger’s short story and novella are intertwined, telling the story of Franny, a coed at a Smith-type college who is in spiritual and emotional crisis, and Zooey, the brother who tries to help her through it, the youngest members of Salinger’s brilliant but tragic Glass family.