To kick-off to rosé season, the BookBabes read Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. As a group of self-professed wine lovers, we have to admit our wine knowledge was limited to boozy afternoons on the North Fork. Luckily, as the book follows the author’s journey through sommelier training, it covers almost everything about wine—tasting notes, etiquette, restaurant wine lists, vineyards, the science of taste/smell, and even a bacchanalian wine orgy.
While it can get a tad technical (keeping track of the wine/grape varieties can seem daunting), the writing style keeps you laughing (we still can’t over the description of one wine as “asparagus farts”). We also loved that this wealth of knowledge came from a female perspective, which led to some interesting insight (and discussion) into the struggles women still face in the hospitality industry.
There were many practical takeaways from this book, but, as one of the BookBabes enthused, “the best part was learning the hack to ordering the best wine for your buck at restaurants.” With so much wine knowledge under our belts, we’re excited to venture out and try some new kinds of vino. You can try some with us, too, at our next Book Club in June—just RSVP and we provide the wine!
Madame Fourcade's Secret War
As a group focused on women’s stories, when a referral to read Madame Fourcade’s Secret War crossed our inbox, we were immediately intrigued. Having read quite a few WWII-set books in the past, we are always searching for new stories that highlight the bravery of young women during the war. While many fiction books about female spies are making their way to the bestseller lists, we were particularly thrilled to see an incredible work of nonfiction on the same topic.
The book, which reads as smoothly as a novel, details the riveting story of Marie Madeline Fourcade, a young woman who led France’s largest spy network against Hitler during the war. Her story has been suppressed and omitted from history books, so it was both astonishing and inspiring to read about the intricacies of building her network, passing encrypted messages, and caring for over 3000 fellow spies.
Through Marie Madeline Fourcade’s story, author Lynne Olson sheds light on some of the most common insecurities that women in the workplace face in the modern era. Our conversation at book club centered on the fascinating ways in which she overcame her doubts as a female leader during a time when opportunities for women were vastly more limited than they are today. A truly inspiring and instructive read.
BookBabes, a New York City-based book club, was born from brand strategist and former fashion publicist Victoria Natenzon’s desire to combine her love of reading with her passion for fashion and beauty (while drinking wine, of course). She teamed up with friends Caroline Schimmenti and Stacey Stewart, and the three started hosting monthly book clubs with brands like Rent the Runway, J. Crew, Kendra Scott, Amika, Outdoor Voices, Burrow, and Uber, ensuring they always had an exciting new location that could accommodate a large, diverse group.
One of the benefits of hosting book clubs with brands is the large size of the venues, (most often a retail location) which allows BookBabes to bring together groups of 50+ members (no easy feat in New York City), ensuring there are voices from many different perspectives. Connected by a shared love for reading, the membership base consists of a diverse group of women from varied backgrounds, who represent a wide range of professional industries, including finance, law, fashion, beauty, tech, real estate, non-profits, and photography. Aside from the added dimension this variety adds to the book discussion, it also creates opportunities to seek advice (like if you work in beauty but have questions about finance), network (there have been a number of successful job referrals), and of course, many members become friends outside of BookBabes.
As a female-founded club, BookBabes’ mission is to support women authors and women’s stories. Each month, the club picks one fiction and one nonfiction read and participants choose to read one or the other. Some of the books they have read include Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Becoming, Daisy Jones and the Six, Educated, The Year of Magical Thinking, Cork Dork, Sweetbitter, and Crazy Rich Asians.
A year ago, the BookBabes couldn’t have imagined they would be hosting 3+ events a month each with 50+ attendees. Luckily, many people are just as interested in reading as the founders are but don’t want the stress of organizing and planning their own book club with friends. Victoria, Caroline, and Stacey aspire to make book clubs a fun alternative to your standard happy hour or brunch. Currently, the BookBabes founders are excited about increasing their brand partnerships to bring more new and interesting offerings to members, teaming up with Read it Forward and Random House to make sure they get insider info about the hottest new books, and—one day—expanding their events outside of New York City.
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Not in New York? You can read along with them here on Instagram: @bookbabesnyc, or if you are NYC-based, check out their upcoming events here. Or, read below for some exclusive reviews of some of their most recent reads.
Featured image: Courtesy of BookBabes