Welcome, literature lovers, to the third installment of the new-and-improved FIRST for Women monthly book club!
Here at FIRST for Women, when we’re not hard at work bringing you stories about health, nutrition, beauty and lifestyle (that we hope you’ll love), we like to kick back with a good book.
We know first-hand that reading provides relief from stress, improves brain health and ushers in more joy. So we created a new kind of book club that doesn’t just classify our picks by genre, but also lets you know how we used that book to self-medicate whatever emotional challenge we were facing.
We see books as a kind of medicine for the psyche and the soul — and we’re thinking you do too. And so we want to let you know exactly what emotional state we “prescribe” our book picks for. Here are our seven top picks for September 2023 — from a hilarious rom-com to swoon-worthy romances to an eerie mystery.
We’d also love to hear from you what books you’re reading this month and how they made you feel!
Bored and listless? Rx: To Have and to Heist
Romantic Comedy by Sara Desai
“Whenever I have a weekend ahead of me with zero plans, I like to pick out a read that’s sure to be entertaining,” says Shay Trotter, FIRST Associate Editor. “And this thrilling gem about an unlikely duo coordinating a jewelry heist delivered all the fun and adventure of a movie.” Simi Chopra is having a rough time. She lost another job, she’s in debt and now her best friend is accused of stealing a multimillion-dollar diamond necklace. So when the charming and mysterious Jack offers to help her find the missing necklace and steal it back, Simi jumps at the chance. But while working together to pull off the heist, Jack might end up stealing Simi’s heart instead. “Not only did the humor leave me tickled, but the high-stakes drama had me on the edge of my seat,” says Shay. “It cured my boredom!” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2023)
Need an escape? Rx: The Seven Year Slip
Magical Realism by Ashley Poston
“After falling into an online rabbit hole of negative current events, I needed to escape into something magical,” says Kristina Mastrocola, FIRST Senior Editor. “And this story was just the adventure I wanted.” When book publicist Clementine inherits her late aunt’s apartment, she gets much more than real estate—she inherits a magical place that slips through time, both seven years into the future and seven years into the past. So when she comes home to find a handsome stranger with a Southern accent standing in her kitchen, she realizes her new roomie is from seven years ago. Iwan is an aspiring chef who makes the best lemon pie ever. But time is tricky, and one day he vanishes. Will Clementine reconnect with present-day Iwan? And is the man of today the same one from the past? Raves Kristina, “I loved this enchanting story that captures the crazy, nonsensical magic of falling in love—in any time.” (Berkley, 2023)
Worried? Rx: Meet Me at the Lake
Romance by Carley Fortune
“Following a recent disagreement with a close friend, I grabbed this book as a distraction,” says Rachel Cosma, FIRST Health Director. “It made my worries melt away in one afternoon!” In her early 20s, Fern—who aspired to open a coffee shop in the city—spent a whirlwind day with Will, an artist. They agree to chase their dreams and meet again in one year, but Will doesn’t show. Ten years later, Fern is begrudgingly running her family’s lakeside resort, when Will arrives. Together, they try to find a way to move forward (both in life and in love) and rekindle the spark that never faded. Says Rachel, “This reminded me that we don’t always know what someone else is going through, and how just being there for those we love, no matter what, makes a difference.” (Berkley, 2023)
Feeling blue? Rx: A Lady’s Guide to Scandal
Historical Romance by Sophie Irwin
“Last week, I was supposed to travel to visit one of my best friends for a girls’ weekend, but storms canceled my plans,” sighs Lauren Blum, FIRST Associate Editor. “So I decided to read this story for a boost.” After the passing of her older husband, the Earl of Somerset, Miss Eliza Balfour has the chance to live her life how she wants. Her first step? Traveling to Bath with her cousin to have a little fun. But when the new Lord of Somerset gets word of her behavior, Eliza realizes she may still have to face consequences. Says Lauren, “Filled with wit, charm and romance, this sweet, exciting read had so much heart.” (Penguin, 2023)
Need a distraction? Rx: The Cherokee Rose
Historical Fiction by Tiya Miles
“I was prepping for a long flight and a friend suggested this extraordinary read,” says Melissa D’Agnese, FIRST Senior Editor. Inspired by a true story, this tale follows historian Jinx as she goes to a Georgia plantation to conduct research. She wants to find out what happened to Mary Ann Battis, a Cherokee tribe member. While there, Jinx meets Ruth and Cheyenne, and the women unravel mysteries. Says Melissa, “It’s a story that blends the past and present so beautifully.” (Random House, 2023)
Stuck inside? Rx: The Long Way Back
Mystery by Nicole Baart
“When the hot, humid days force me to hide out in the A/C, I make sure to curl up with a good book,” admits Alexandra Pollock, FIRST Deputy Editor. “And this one was great!” Charlie and Eva are living the life as a traveling mother-daughter Instagram influencer duo…until Eva disappears. Charlie sets off to find her and clear her name after becoming a suspect, but when she uncovers secrets, Charlie wonders if she even knows Eva. Says Alexandra, “I stayed up very late reading until the jaw-dropping end!” (Atria, 2023)
Stressed out? Rx: The Family Game
Thriller by Catherine Steadman
“Reeling from a stressful week, I was looking to step into a book-world nothing like my own,” says Kate Arcell, FIRST Assistant Editor. “This one hit the mark!” Despite Harriet and her husband Edward’s attempts to separate themselves from his rich family, the pair is still roped into the family’s holiday festivities. But when Edward’s father slips Harriet a cassette tape of a book he’s working on, she realizes that it isn’t a work of fiction, but a confession of murder! Raves Kate, “I was so enthralled in this tale that it revitalized me.” (Ballantine, 2022)
If you missed last month’s FIRST Book Club picks, find it here:
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.