February Reading List.

the stripe february 2017 reading list: the dollhouse, behind closed doors, how to murder your life, commander in chief, since she went away

Before we dive into this month’s book list, did you read this article? Apparently, with all the time we spend on social media, we could be reading two hundred books a year. Two hundred. That blew me away. As you know by now, I am quite the bookworm. I average about five or six books a month, which would work out to sixty or seventy books a year. WOW. Anyway, I read six books this month… the five I listed below, but also Valley of the Dolls (which I LOVED) but did not include again as it was featured in a previous book list. It’s such a classic – if you haven’t read it, definitely add that to your to-read list as well! And as always, check out our interactive book club page (these have all been added to the page) where you can search for book recommendations by genre… and also, January’s reading list!

* The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis is probably my favorite book from this month. But you know me, I am a big historical fiction nerd. If you loved The Perfume Collector (from last month’s reading list) as much as I did, you will love this. SO many of you recommended it to me, so thank you for that! Similar to The Perfume Collector, there are two strong women (both in New York, this go-round) and the book tells their parallel stories (taking place in modern day as well as the fifties). It’s set at the glamorous Barbizon Hotel (referred to back then as The Dollhouse, as it was where all of the aspiring models, editors, and secretaries lived back in the fifties… now it’s condos. But anyway, back in modern-day, there is a dark secret and a big mystery to untangle, which happens as the novel progresses. You won’t be able to put it down.

* How to Murder Your Life, by Cat Marnell is probably all that everyone, or at least everyone in beauty/fashion/publishing will be talking about this month. I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy and found myself halfway finished with the book after a day. I loved it so much that I had to force myself to slow down. To back up, Cat and I have a history. Well not a real history as we have never actually met, but from the day it launched, Lucky was my favorite magazine. There were no blogs back then so I would page through Lucky pretty much every day until the next month’s issue arrived. My girlfriends and I were obsessed. Anyway, I read Lucky so much that I became familiar with everyone on the masthead. Cat and I are about the same age and I really admired her clever, slightly irreverent writing style and I would always buy the products she featured. Reading the book was especially fun as I also worshipped her boss Jean Godfrey-June (still do – now she’s at Goop), so it was fun hearing what it was like to work for. That part was very fun, but parts of the book were really sad and disturbing. Even through the harder-to-read parts (and there are a lot of them), Cat’s writing style draws you in. She’s relatable and funny, even when recounting addiction, abortion, relapsing, etc. It feels like your best friend is telling you all of this and you just want to give her a big hug. Cat is a brilliant writer and I loved this book. I really hope she figures things out.

 * Since She Went Away, by David Bell, is a superbly written thriller. You will definitely get Gone Girl vibes, reading this. Jenna Barton’s best friend Celia disappears from thin air out of her Midwestern town… leaving behind her husband and child. At the same time, Jenna’s son’s girlfriend also disappears. Shady things are going down. Jenna, blaming herself for Celia’s disappearance, dedicates herself to doing everything she can to finding her missing friend. I thought I had guessed the ending three or four times, but as it turned out, I was wrong on all counts. You won’t be able to put it down. If you loved Gone Girl, you will absolutely love this.

* Commander in Chief is the steamy sequel to Mr. President (both by Katy Evans). In January’s reading list I confided that I was a bit embarrassed that I read and enjoyed this so much (the series is basically 50 Shades meets West Wing) but I couldn’t put it down! Not every book I read and write about here is going to save the world. The plot line is pretty implausible (if you can even get past the part where the president is 35 years old and having an affair with a 23 year old), but it really doesn’t matter… it’s fun to read and sometimes that is all that matters.

* Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is very, very emotionally draining and upsetting. That’s your warning. A few of you recommended it to me and while I really loved it, it made me feel a little bit sick. It’s incredibly twisted. Think of that perfect couple we all know… a beautiful house, movie star good looks, seemingly perfect in every way. It didn’t help that the main character’s name is Grace, either. It may seem as though I am complaining, but I’m not. This book is one of the most horrifying and terrifying psychological thrillers I’ve read in a while. I read it in 24 hours – I had to know what would happen next or I would not be able to sleep!!! Maybe don’t read it if you are about to get married. Or maybe do… just be prepared to be completely freaked out.

What should I read next? I always love your recommendations!

the stripe february reading list: the dollhouse, behind closed doors, how to murder your life, commander in chief, since she went away

the stripe february reading list: the dollhouse, behind closed doors, how to murder your life, commander in chief, since she went away

the stripe february reading list: the dollhouse, behind closed doors, how to murder your life, commander in chief, since she went away

the stripe february reading list: the dollhouse, behind closed doors, how to murder your life, commander in chief, since she went away

photography by Felicia Lasala

Leave a Comment


  1. Natali says 2.9.17

    We have a similar taste in books so thank you for the recommendations, I’ll def. check out all of them and pick at least one book to read this month. 🙂


    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Oh good! Enjoy 🙂

  2. I want to read How To Murder Your Life so bad now!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      It’s amazing! Hope you read it! x

  3. Sophie says 2.9.17

    I’ll have to check out these books.

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Hope you enjoy! x

  4. Heather says 2.9.17

    I totally agree with you re: Behind Closed Doors–it takes a lot to freak me out (and I read a lot of thrillers) but this one at times made me nauseous! I just read Pretty Girls by Karin Slaugter and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and loved them both!

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Yes!!! I was so so disturbed!

      I LOVED A Man Called Ove… and will look at Pretty Girls – thank you for the recommendation! x

      • Melissa says 2.12.17

        Have to chime in and say I DO NOT recommend Pretty Girls — it was disturbing. If you struggled with Behind Closed Doors, I’d stay away from Pretty Girls!

        • graceatwood says 2.13.17

          Thank you for the heads up 🙂 I have to be in a certain state of mind to read the more disturbing ones!

  5. Dana says 2.9.17

    These are quickly beco,ing my favorite posts from you! I’ve been trying to read more, I read 3 books in January but I’d like to read about 4-5. Love that little book club page you created too!

    I’m currently reading Find Her by Lisa Gardner. It’s a little disturbing but definitely a page turner!

    Pink Champagne Problems

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Oh good!!!! I’m so happy you are enjoying these (and thanks for the recommendation!)

  6. diana pearl says 2.9.17

    I want to read all of these!!! Ah, I just love your book lists! Enjoy the snow day + hope you get to do some reading! x

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Oh good!!! Hope you stayed warm and toasty during all that snow! xx

  7. Abby says 2.9.17

    You should read the paris apartment – it’s historical fiction and very similar to the perfume collector. It’s about a Parisan apartment that was perfectly persevered for about 100 years and the sothebys agent who gets to curate the apartment.

  8. Sharona says 2.9.17

    Yay! I love your reading list posts — adding these to my good reads now!

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Aw good! Hope you enjoy!

  9. Thanks for the recommendations!


    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      of course! Hope you enjoy!!

  10. Cy says 2.9.17

    Looks like a good list! I’m just finished Voyager from the Outlander series, big fan of the show too. I also like historical fiction. You would love Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. All about the French Revolution. The wax scenes she created actually were a kind of news for the locals, many who couldn’t read or write. She survived so much. A true real life heroine! Although I’m very visual, l love to read and let my imagination create the “pictures “. 🙂

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      I keep hearing great things about the Outlander series!!! Thanks for all the recommendations 🙂 x

      • Cy says 2.10.17

        You will love Outlander! Historical and hot!

  11. Cy says 2.9.17

    For me it’s a tie between Lucky and Domino! There are others I like, but these two had it down. I miss them. 🙁 Domino has the quarterly, but again, not the same!

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      I miss them so much too!

  12. Alison Burke says 2.9.17

    I read so much non-fiction right now, I really need to get some back into some good fiction. I have had A Little Life on my Kindle for a while, I guess I’m going to start it soon but I’m a little scared because everyone says it is this completely life changing but emotionally devastating book. Have you read it?

    Thanks for your review of Cat’s book, I’m still torn! I also love, love, loved Lucky and read Cat’s editor page religiously. I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes with her until her XOJane days, and yeah, it’s complicated. And sad.

    PS — I miss all of the old Lucky gals so much and am so happy to see them resurfacing in other fun places. GP was smart to snatch up Jean, Elise, etc., and I love reading Kim, Andrea, and Marlien in their various blog forms.

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Oh my gosh that is really funny… I read Kim, Andrea, and Marlien’s blogs too. It was a great magazine!

  13. Jaime says 2.9.17

    I loved The Perfume Collector! Thank you! I am current reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis and find it fascinating, especially post election.

    “A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country”.

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      So happy you loved the Perfume Collector! The Hillbilly Elegy sounds like something I will enjoy. Adding to my list!!

  14. Kristen says 2.9.17

    sooo i had a credit on audible and grabbed behind closed doors as an audio book. is that worse or better?! I’m glad for your warning. Right now I am reading The Tresspasser by Tana French and really like it.

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Oh man! I’m not sure!!!! I hope you love it – just so disturbing!!! Adding The Tresspasser to my list, thank you for the suggestion!

  15. Elaine says 2.9.17

    I do enjoy your blog so much and your style. As a rule I don’t comment, but I just finished a book that I loooved, it is called Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly.

    • graceatwood says 2.10.17

      Thank you so much for the suggestion!!!

  16. I just discovered your blog, so I don’t know much about you.

    But, a few of the top books I read last year… I loved Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I have lived my entire life in the Midwest, though. 🙂

    If you have not yet read The Nightingale, it totally put me off guard because the beginning felt slow, but I ended up crying out loud toward the end!

    I adored A Man Called Ove, but I listened to it on audiobook. The movie is really well done, too.

    • graceatwood says 2.13.17

      Sounds like we have really similar taste! I Loved The Nightingale and A Man Called Ove!!! Did not realize A Man Called Ove was a movie – going to have to watch that ASAP as I loved the book so so much!

  17. Laurie says 2.10.17

    I read Behind Closed Doors on a flight to Denver in August. I was so drained by the time I landed – I cried at the dog stuff. You know… that was equally disturbing. It took me a few days to stop thinking about the book.

    • graceatwood says 2.13.17

      Me too. It was so so disturbing… I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a solid week!

  18. Charla says 2.10.17

    I’m reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson.
    It was recommended to me by my niece. She says everyone should read it!

    • graceatwood says 2.13.17

      Oooh I love his website – must check it out! xx

  19. Beth says 2.10.17

    Just wanted to let you know how much I love your book recommendations! I went to your book club page before my recent vacation to see why I should download to read 🙂 you may have already read these, but I have really enjoyed the “Red Rising” trilogy by Pierce Brown: it’s post-apocalypse meets the Hunger Games. Also the Red Queen is a good fantasy/YA read.

    • graceatwood says 2.13.17

      Aw good, that makes me so so happy!!!
      I loved Red Rising – it is so so good! Will check out the Red Queen!!

  20. Katie says 2.11.17

    These all sound so good- I need to check them out!


    • graceatwood says 2.13.17

      Yay! Hope you enjoyed ’em 🙂

  21. Stephanie says 2.15.17

    Just read the Dollhouse(and loved it!) and waiting for my name to come up at the library for the Cat Marnell book.

    I read Commonwealth by Ann Patchett this month too – definitely a book I’d recommend.

    • graceatwood says 2.18.17

      So glad you loved The Dollhouse as much as I did! I bought Commonwealth – will be reading it soon! xx

  22. Cara says 2.15.17

    I also love historical fiction, so thank you for the suggestion- am adding The Dollhouse to my list! … in the historical fiction genre I also loved Circling the Sun ( British ex-pats in Colonial Africa) and At the Waters Edge (two lovers and their friend cross the Atlantic during WW II in search of the Loch Ness Monster… I realize that plot sounds bizarre but it’s really more of a love story and is beautifully written). BTW, I will forever be impressed at how many books you manage to read each month 🙂

    • graceatwood says 2.18.17

      Oh GOOD! I think you will love the Dollhouse… and thanks for the recommendations! I know.. I read a lot. Although, I am not as good this month with all the travel… I’m out of my routine! x

  23. Emily says 2.26.17

    I love your reading lists!! Can’t wait to start reading Commander in Chief. It’s right up my alley 🙂

    Emily | socialdearest.blogspot.com

    • graceatwood says 2.27.17

      Aw, thanks Emily! It’s a fun one! xx

  24. Sydne says 3.11.17

    Love these reading lists! Just ordered a few 🙂