Check out the poll for the No-Obligation Book Club’s next read.

By Real Simple
Updated April 07, 2014
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Paper construction of bird bath by Matthew Sporzynski
Credit: Monica Buck

Hi, Bookies:

This month we’re doing something a little different. In addition to our May discussion leader—second-time moderator Brigitt Hauck, who is the associate editor on and a much loved part of the team—we have a special guest curator for our book poll. Sara Nelson is an old friend of Real Simple; she has done a few summer book roundups for us over the years. But Sara, a longtime magazine books editor (Glamour, O Magazine) and the former editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly, is also the editorial director of and a contributor to its book blog, Omnivoracious. This woman knows books. For the NOBC, she has specifically selected four works of fiction by women: Three of them are new, one of those being virtually hot-off-the-presses. I’m delighted to introduce you to it, and to Sara. See her picks below—they are all in her words—then cast your vote by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 27.


Blame, by Michelle Huneven

Published in the last decade, this is one of the best novels I’ve ever read about making moral choices. Plot centers on a young woman who drinks too much, gets into a car accident that kills someone, and spends the rest of her life atoning for the drinking and the crime. Then she makes a disturbing discovery. . . .

The Wives of Los Alamos, by TaraShea Nesbit

Very short novel that nonetheless sheds a lot of light on the women who accompanied their husbands to the desert to work on an unmentionable project (i.e., the making of the atomic bomb). You learn something without feeling like you’ve been assigned homework.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman

A Coney Island museum of “living wonders,” like young Coralie, the weg-fingered girl who performs in a tank as a mermaid, is the setting for this unlikely love story informed by the tragedies and tawdriness of 1911 New York City.

Casebook, by Mona Simpson

Brand-new novel (out next week) by the author of Anywhere But Here about a teenage boy who sets out to spy on his divorced mother and her new boyfriend—and discovers more about grown-up lives than he really wanted to know.