The No-Obligation Book Club picks its first read of 2014.

By Real Simple
Updated December 05, 2013
from the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Real Simple
Monica Buck

Hi, Bookies:

Pause for a moment, if you would, during these busy holiday weeks to think about a pursuit that will be somewhat more serene: reading the book that will kick off 2014 for us. Leading the group for the first time—and I’m so happy she will be—is Kelley Carter, Real Simple’s smart, funny, and ineffably stylish home department senior market editor. See Kelley’s picks below—three novels and a facinating memoir—then choose your favorite by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 22.


The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman

Waldman’s debut novel offers a sharp skewering of modern mating rites, as seen through the love life of one self-involved literary Brooklyn hipster.

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter

January may be the perfect time to settle in and read Walter’s enchanting and acclaimed decade-spanning novel (a previous book club contender) of an enduring love that blooms in a tiny Italian seaside town in 1962.

The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud

Messud (The Emperor’s Children) returns with a seething story of an ordinary, middle-aged schoolteacher who struggles to free herself of the trap she believes her life has become.

Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, by Anatole Broyard

Likened to Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, Kafka is the slim memoir of another writer who captures his city, and young manhood among artists and poets, in a time long gone: Greenwich Village just after World War II.