Surznick Reads: September 2016 - The Surznick Common Room

Friday, September 30, 2016

Surznick Reads: September 2016

September is one of my favorite months of the year, so I'm pretty sad to see it go, but equally as excited for all of the wonderful things October brings. This month I finally (finally) read a book and luckily it was one I liked!

Sarah's Reads!

The Girls by Emma Cline
From "Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged - a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence."

When I read the synopsis for this book, all I could think is "Charles Manson + White Oleander + Evan Rachel Wood in Thirteen" and that's almost exactly what this story is. The Girls is told from the perspective of Evie, as she navigates teenage crushes, friendships ending, her family dividing, and ultimately finding ease at "the ranch." After the last book I attempted to read (more on that next month - if I finish it), The Girls was a breath of fresh air. It was simple and easy to follow, with a plot that keeps you interested in reading more. I really liked it, as it's been a long time since I've felt invested in a story, though I do have a couple complaints. A) It felt almost too familiar. As mentioned, I feel like I knew this story before I even cracked the cover. I don't often research books before reading them, but almost think I would have enjoyed this more if I knew that Cline's intent was to write a book based on the Manson murders. I spent much of the story wondering how closely it correlated with reality. B) The ending wasn't very exciting and didn't feel tied together. I wanted to know more. Overall, I can understand why it's a NYT Bestseller that everyone is talking about right now, but I wouldn't hail it as a forever favorite.

My Rating: 4 Stars


This month we also have a little game review to share. We received the game Punderdome from Blogging for Books in exchange for review. Punderdome is a card game created by a father-daughter duo that "will replace Cards Against Humanity at your next party" (

We tested out this game at our last book club meeting, and while the description claims you don't need to be a pun master to master Punderdome, we tended to disagree. To play the game, a judge draws two prompt cards from the deck and reads them to the group. Each player has 90 seconds to create a pun combining the two prompts. Sounds easy enough, but we struggled so much to come up with something on the spot! It took a few rounds to get going, and finally the group had some momentum, but I personally didn't come up with a single funny pun. Either way, we're keeping it on our shelf for future game and book club nights, but I need to practice my puns in the mean time...

Our Rating: 3 Stars

Sarah & Nick


  1. Hey y'all!

    I found your blog a while ago when I was trying to get a good feel for Pittsburgh, because my boyfriend and I are planning to move there soon. You guys seem great and I like checking in once in a while to see what you're up to- Congrats on your house!

    I tried reading The Girls but I felt like the topic was pretty played out, especially since I had recently listened to this awesome podcast series about the Manson phenom: it's called You Must Remember This, stories of old Hollywood. They devote a whole season to the Manson family and i's pretty fascinating. They also cover Star Wars if you're into it!

    1. Hi Katrina!

      Thanks so much for your comment! Pittsburgh is great and I hope you and your boyfriend love it! When are you planning to move here? I'm happy to help if you need any recommendations or have questions about the area.

      I'm definitely going to check out that podcast too! Have a great weekend!