A question for Strangelings

A quick question for members of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club

Right now I’m reading a ton of books to pick something perfect for May and there are a LOT of good choices (which is both good and bad) and I thought it would be helpful to know how you guys would actually classify your favorite genres and books. The book club picks are usually unusual books from authors who might not get as much attention as they should. They probably skew a bit dark compared the normal bookclub (especially when you add in the bonus books) and feature diverse voices and books that may not have necessarily been on your radar.

Also, no worries if you haven’t read all of the books (you may not even have gotten this month’s yet) but from what you have read (or shared with friends and family who stole your books before you could read them) use the poll below to pick (up to 5 of) your favorite books we’ve read so far. Later this week I’ll share the top picks in case you’re interested. Here’s a list of the books and the optional ones in case you need a visual reminder or missed one.

Thank you!

59 thoughts on “A question for Strangelings

Read comments below or add one.

  1. How do you get a book considered for your strangelings book list? My daughter recently had a YA science fiction/fantasy book published, “The Shadow Wars”
    By Lindsay Smith publisher is Penguin Press. Available on Amazon, B & N, etc.
    It would be ideal!!!

  2. I have enjoyed most of the book club books I’ve read. If one does not sound good, I email to say not to send it. Your staff are great!
    BTW, I got an email from Macmillan Publishers today showcasing women’s books. I nearly deleted it but didn’t and was super pleasantly surprised when YOUR NEW BOOK was included! Gosh, I can’t wait to read it!
    Once again, thanks for being you and sharing your amazing wit with us.

  3. Just voted! I’ve definitely enjoyed the dark fiction… thriller, horror, etc. I’ve been devouring Grady Hendrix’s work since discovering him through this club!!

  4. I only joined in December, but one of the reasons I joined was the surprising number of books that you’d listed that I had excitedly purchased for myself, or like Dark Archives, which I immediately had to buy even though I had barely missed that month.
    Deadly Education (despite the racial missteps that are still being debated elsewhere) was absolutely my favorite book of last year, like, just the right amount of darkness and ambition I wish I could replicate, without getting into some of my squicks like in Mexican Gothic, which I loved the atmosphere and immortal fungus from, but not necessarily the violation of these random girls.
    Still want to read Catharine House and 30 Names of night was gorgeous.

  5. I feel a little like a baby admitting this, but I couldn’t finish (or get past page 10+/-) because it disturbed me in a way I couldn’t shake for a few hours after setting the book down. I don’t even know why exactly, but that and the Southern Bookclub Guide to Being The Chosen One and Then Staking the Vampire really upset me. I got within maybe 70 (?) (I really have no idea, but the climax was near followed I bet by the denouement) of the end and just got too disturbed.
    The skin book might have been superb, but every doctor gets one freebie grossout and derm is mine, so I skipped it. It might not have been creepy at all, intrinsically anyway, but my dermophobia got in the way.

    I’ve loved the many others I’ve started but shit keeps happening so I have to set the damn book down and haven’t finished most of them but will.

    Generally, I love books about pandemics (always have fascinated me- for at least 35 years before COVID), Vampires that a snarky, magical realism and books that help demolish mental health stigma with their candor, ability to see humor even when you feel like shit and not pretending everything is fine when it’s not. (though, Jenny, I do wish everything was always lovely and frolicking for you.) oh, and that stigma bashing candor category also saves lives because you see on the page that you’re not the only one. AND they are excellent required reading when I teach my psychiatry residents. These are the moment you take into battle. I love you, Jenny. Besides being a gift of a human to people who know you personally, you also measurably increase the amount of goodness here on earth. ❤️

  6. I’ve really enjoyed quite a few of these, some of which are definitely outside my norm so thank you so much! I ordered additional Grady Hendrix titles because they all sounded amazing after the Vampire boon. But Deadly Education was hands down my favorite. I’ve already ordered the next Scholomance book! It also got me scrounging around to find similar books. Also, my cats really enjoyed it too so they say many thanks as well! I guess I should clarify that I read to them. If I had a cat that could read I’d buy all the books because I’d be rich. Oh well. Two non-reading cats it is.

  7. I’m really getting into True Crime, so book like “American Sherlock” and “Dark Archives” I loved. But my all time favorite, so far, has been “The Witch’s Heart”.

  8. I have found that a lot of the books are basically the same. Dark and predictable and kind of stupid. I just finished the Norseish book and thought it was poorly written. On the other hand I loved the alternate choices by Grady Hendrix. His books are fantastic. Maybe he just has a better editor. Looking forward to your new book.

  9. Just finished The Witch’s Heart and I love it. My favorite one so far!

  10. Top picks (no particular order):

    The Bone Shard Daughter
    The Thirty Names of Night
    American Sherlock

  11. I have absolutely loved your picks! I chose my top 5, but every single month has been an adventure. The darker the better, but Samantha Irby was a really awesome curveball thrown in – I wouldn’t mind more like that sprinkled in with the rest, too!

  12. I really loved the variety, but I consumed a deadly education so quickly! Also loved Samantha Irby’s book.

  13. I just joined in December but my absolute favorites were A Deadly Education and The Bone Shard Daughter. I like that your book picks are expanding my reading because I probably wouldn’t have chosen those books on my own so thank you!

  14. My pandemic struggle has been reading — I used to read a book a week, but I struggle to get through 1 a month this past year. I have enjoyed your selections, even if I’m way behind. I love that they are quirky, lesser known works. I’m trying to pick items by more diverse authors as well, thanks for helping with that.

  15. To anyone who loved A deadly education bu Naomi Novik, I highly recommend The Atlas six by Olivie Blake. Dark academia at its best!

  16. I love the dark,strange ones that are more magical realism. If I have to follow a whole new world I have a hard time getting engaged. I think I’ve loved more of the alternates…..Addie LaRue, The Butcher’s Blessing and a bunch of Grady Hendrix. My favorite of the originals is We Ride Upon Sticks. Haven’t been able to get into The Witch’s Heart or The Deadly Education yet but I’m not giving up!! I had a hard time with The Thirty Names of Night but ended up loving it at the end!! Keep them coming, Jenny!

  17. Not a member because of overseas shipping costs, but I vote for dark and unusual anyway.

    “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

    “And if you gaze long into an abyss, sometimes the abyss reaches out and gives you a great big hug and you feel all warm and dark and cosy.”

    There are a million book clubs that cater for warm and fluffy, but where can the lovers of dark and unusual go? The Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, that’s where.

  18. I am here specifically *for* the dark and unusual, so always more of that please 🙂

  19. I loved The Witch’s Heart, but The Swallowed Man was a disappointment. I also really liked Addie LaRue and am currently reading A Deadly Education. I just started Professional Troublemaker and am not feeling it yet. But like I said, I just started it!🙃

  20. I tend toward dark and quirky literary fiction. I like character driven stories that stir up some
    sort of emotional reaction. However, I am an equal opportunity reader. I work at an independent bookstore, so I am literally inundated with ALL the hooks. What I love about being a Strangeling is that for once, someone is choosing a book for me. Takes some of the pressure off trying to figure out which of the 9 million books that cross my hands everyday are coming home with me. So thanks, and keep up the great slightly under the radar picks.

  21. I love your book picks so far! I’ve read all of them (except the one that is coming today haha). I appreciate the range of different choices. None have been boring, you choose different genres and books I may have never read on my own! I love that!

  22. I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read, and I am happy with the books that have been chosen. I haven’t been able to keep up – I miss some months – but I will read them as I have time. And I like the dark, creepy books. 🙃

  23. I realize this might not be the place to ask, has the book club filled up? Apologies if I missed something saying it has

  24. usually I have read crime novels, or suspense like Dean Koontz. your booklet picks have been great to take me out of my comfort zone a little. I like that they rent kittens and rainbows though, I’m not quite a kittens and rainbows girl.

  25. The Witch’s Heart is my ultimate favorite! I hated finishing it. I will read it again. I love being one of the strangelings.

  26. HELP. Totally do NOT see where to go to take the poll. What am I missing??? Really would like to give feedback.

  27. The poll didn’t give me an option of either of the Hendrix books. I only voted for 4 and really wanted to vote for the Southern Guide to killing Vampires.

  28. Lyra #8: it may interest you to read a series of tweets that I wrote after a serious suicide attempt a few weeks ago. I wrote it both to destigmatize mental health crises and to give anyone who may be in my shoes a reality check about what awaits them if they fail (which is most likely what will happen to them). I also wouldn’t mind if your students got a glimpse of the patient’s perspective when no one will help her with agonizing pain (I just needed to be able to stand more!) or attempt to find a solution when the phone in her room is broken and she is being kept from social support for 12 hours. And refusing me my tinnitus maskers that I couldn’t have even choked on, an actual medical device! Ok I’m done ranting; here it is:


  29. Generally I love the dark books, but could really use more of the fun/funny ones – like Samantha Irby or Ride Upon Sticks

  30. I know you are not looking for new books to read particularly on this post, and I am not actually a member of the book club, but I totally love dark, strange, peculiar books. And I have to recommend 100% “House of Leaves” by Mark z Danielewski. You won’t regret it and you’ll never forget it. And I would get the remastered full color edition. It is up to now, the absolute oddest book I have read and I love it. It takes a little effort to read but it is completely worth it. And I guarantee you that it will haunt your dreams and flashes of it will come back for a long time after you’ve read it. I’m not saying that this is bad, personally I love things that stick with me and that I dream about. Maybe you do too.

  31. It is so unfair, that thees books are not yet available in Finnish. Though I can reed in English, I miss some of the points by not knowing the internal signifiance or the proverb in it. But Ikeep trying. 🙂

  32. Im not sure still where I put Thirty Names of Night. I still think about it, so obviously powerful. I haven’t received Professional Troublemaker yet so did not consider it part of the vote. Follow Me to Ground I’m still trying to get someone else here (in Germany) to read so we can discuss!!

  33. While I like dark and fantastic stories, I shy away from tragedy and depressing tales. I find they merely add to my depression. Apparently I don’t do catharsis very well.

  34. I hope you post the results. I’m curious what the rankings were. For me my ab=solute favorites were Deadly Education We Ride Upon Sticks and Bone Shard Daughter but except for one book which I won’t name because I don’t want to discourage people from liking it I’ve really liked all the books. Oh that and the most recent one which I got yesterday.

  35. It wasn’t on here, but I liked the Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires!

  36. Have loved the variety of choices in book club! Sometimes it feels like things tread too much in the ‘dark and mysterious things happen at a gothic boarding school/gothic mansion’ category but I also absolutely love that genre so it’s a very small critique 😉 My favorite books so far have been We Ride Upon Sticks and The Witch’s Heart. I love mixing things up between fiction and non-fiction, as well as having some more light hearted and fun reads like Samantha Irby thrown into the mix. The Q&A you two did together was an absolute joy. Thanks for doing such a fantastic job Jenny!

  37. FWIW, I’d love to join, and I love unusual books, but in these dark times, I definitely need to read things that skew lighter.

  38. I’ve liked most of the books, but I’d love a few that are a little lighter or funnier? For the sad days.

  39. I’m not part of the club, but I read one of the books, have one on my bedstand, and have 3 in my queue—I’d love to see the results of the poll–anyway you could publish it? Thanks!

  40. Narrowing down to five favorites is hard. I confess I tried to select a sixth — The Swallowed Man — but was blocked. You must have known Strangelings would try to break the rule. I chose three nonfiction (including this month’s Professional Troublemaker which I love so much!) and two fiction cause I would hate for you to stop choosing nonfiction now and again. I’ve loved those selections.

  41. The Secret Life of Addie Larue was my favorite! It was an optional pick but I didn’t see it on the list to vote.

  42. The Secret Life of Addie LaRue was my favorite! It was an optional book but I didn’t see it on the list to vote for.

  43. I read the book by samatha irby. It was ok… she’s no Jenny Lawson!! I’m such a huge fan!! You are such a huge inspirational person! Your books got me through a few hard times in my life, raising three kids all two years apart (I don’t recommend this at all) and the psych ward a couple times!! My first time was postpartum depression and the second was depression, anxiety and insomnia!! I relate to your books more than anything I have ever read!! “pretend your good at it” has stuck with me for a Long time. It’s kind of like: fake it till you make it, in a way.

    I can’t wait for Broken to be released!!

    My boyfriend and I’s relationship reminds me a lot of you and Victor and the conversations you have! The way he supports you is the same. Time to lean, time to clean. That’s so him!! And me well I would much rather just sit and deal with not thinking about mental illness or symptoms that I may be having.

    I also gave your first book to a friend of mine at her boobvoyage party. (She had breast cancer a few years ago). It helped her get through chemotherapy for the second time in her life.

    Anyways I absolutely love your writing!! I’m so glad I finally found your blog after all these years!! I’m so grateful for your books!! Keep up the amazing writing!! 😘🤗


  44. i’M way behind my readings, but I’ve enjoyed all of them in different ways. None has been a “I can’t put this down” kind of book for me, but they all are of the “different” genre. American Sherlock was a tad slow/dry, but still interesting. Catherine House was odd, I kept wondering when it would get really good, but it never did for me, though it did hold my interest. Wow, no Thank You was also entertaining, but it was a bit hum-drum for me. I live in Berkeley, CA, where these kinds of stories are pretty mundane. Follow me to Ground was the most intriguing. It was very different and intrigued me in a way the other’s hadn’t. I haven’t read the rest, but they are on my bedside table awaiting the times when I don’t feel I have to numb myself with weird videos before bed and I feel I can read again. I love reading, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve enjoyed just sitting and reading a book like I have done in the before times.

  45. I loved the writing in “We Ride Upon Sticks,” just brilliant. “A Deadly Education” has problems with the logic or lack of it in a number of ways. Why does it deplete Galadriel’s mana to kill off monsters and Orion Lake increases his mana by killing monsters and so on. I’ve already preordered the sequel in spite of this, just want to mention it. On the whole I’ve been happy with the books, keep doing what you’re doing to select them, you’ve kept my interest.

  46. I love being a “Strangeling!” I only read the Samantha Irby book. The rest were too dark, stressful, anxiety-causing for me. Obviously I have PTSD and other fun things. I put the rest of the books in our community room in our condo meeting
    I appreciate you trying to assist other authors get their work out there. Could you find an author who shares humor. Also, love that Omar Rayyan’s work is on the cover. He definitely does seriously interesting, strangely funny, and thought-provoking work 😱😎😂❤️💐

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