The Royal Book Club

Literature & nail polish, vol. 2

The Royal Book Club is back! Here is a selection of 10 recently read books, complete with brief reviews and ratings, FIY.

Once more, books are inexplicably paired with nail polish (etc.).

1. No filter – Sarah Frier

In one line or less: The amazing story of Instagram.
Tell me more: An absolute must-read if you have the faintest interest in social media, a compelling one even if you don’t. The behind the scenes of the Instagram saga is mind-blowing, it is no accident this is the business book of the year 2020.
I like it with: Lancaster Sun Sensitive Luminous Tan 50
The Queen’s Grade: 9
(commoner’s Grade: 8)

2. The Perfect Wife – JP Delaney

In one line or less: A tech wiz replaces his dead wife with a robot replica.
Tell me more: While not exactly a literary masterpiece, The Perfect Wife is one hell of an intriguing read. The plot is original and full of unpredictable twists, changing course literally through to the final page.
I like it with: Essie Can Dew Attitude.
The Queen’s Grade: 9
(commoner’s Grade: 9)

3. The Dutch House – Ann Patchett

In one line or less: A brother and sister’s journey through life.
Tell me more: Classic literature. This book is excellent: artfully built characters, a flowing narrative and a masterful documentation of the human experience. It will keep you awake at night.
I like it with: Essie Expressie Breaking the Bold & Speed of Life.
The Queen’s Grade: 8
(commoner’s Grade: 9)

4. Shoe Dog – Phil Knight

In one line or less: The creator of Nike narrates his story.
Tell me more:
I had mistaken this book for business reading and was disappointed by the lack of insights (the only obvious takeaway being “just do it”). Once the concept of the memoir hit home I relaxed and enjoyed it. Interesting life story, powerful finale – I teared up twice in the final 50 pages.
I like it with:
Essie Penny Talk.
The Queen’s Grade:
(commoner’s grade:

5. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

In one line or less: Dystopian retro-futuristic best-seller.
Tell me more: Somewhere between a page-turner and a snooze festival (my interest picked up after having gone 3/4 into the book), it remains original in concept and definitely in the spirit of proper literature. Had I not read The Testaments before this one, I’d be significantly more enthusiastic.
I like it with: Erre Due Last Minute 343 Save the Queen.
The Queen’s Grade: 7
(commoner’s grade: 8)

6. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

In one line or less: Black twin sisters and the (cost of the) radically different life paths they followed.
Tell me more: Flowing writing style, plus an interesting approach to an interesting topic (identity, bias and reinvention). I am totally seeing this as a movie.
I like it with: Essie Swing of Things.
The Queen’s Grade: 7
(commoner’s grade: 8)

7. Will – Will Smith & Mark Manson

In one line or less: Will Smith’s biography co-written by Mark Manson.
Tell me more: I normally wouldn’t care for this but the Manson detail intrigued me. No surprise, the book is well written (maybe a little too well – Smith sounds like a philosophical & literary genius) and the superstar’s attempt to highlight his ordinary side is endearing. An interesting & inspiring read.
I like it with: Essie Worth the Tassel.
The Queen’s Grade: 7
(commoner’s grade: 8)

8. Mr Wilder & Me – Jonathan Coe

In one line or less: “I participated in a thematic book residency.”
Tell me more: This simply doesn’t feel like a Jonathan Coe book – instead it feels like the author has been given an abstract brief (it might be the case – the first half of the novel was written during a residency at the Pestana Cidadela Hotel in Portugal). I thoroughly disliked the heroine (a sign of masterful writing I guess). Well written but nothing to write home about (my sister loved it though).
I like it with: Essie Zest has Yet to Come.
The Queen’s Grade: 6
(commoner’s grade: 7)

9. How to be Yourself – Simon Doonan

In one line or less: A selection of random writings under a fancy title that will intrigue people.
Tell me more: Bit of a disappointment here. The arresting title and witty, humorous subtitle makes one look forward to fun -and possibly useful- wisdom pearls but what you get is self-referential, perfunctory lines that fail to deliver. I took an effort to finish it. Nice design though.
I like it with: Essie Lapiz of Luxury.
The Queen’s Grade: 5
(commoner’s grade: 7)

10. At night all blood is black – David Diop

In one line or less: “It is imperative that the Booker Prize appears inclusive and supportive of diversity.”
Tell me more: Boring AND annoying. A (surely) deranged narrator with the utterly irritating habit of repeating the same things, in the same words, over and over and over again, to the point that it makes you want to throw the book out the window (is this perhaps why it is considered a masterpiece?). It totally escapes me why it is a Booker Prize winner (or a nominee for that matter) and it makes me want to call BS on the whole thing. Literally, it is bad.
I like it with: Essie Go Overboard.
The Queen’s Grade: 4
(commoner’s grade: 8 (with an extra serving of pretence)


The commoner’s grade is what The Real Queen of Stuff imagines a commoner would grace said books with.

All images © The Real Queen of Stuff

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