Bookseller Review: ‘The Chosen and the Beautiful’

We think everyone should read the classics at some point in their lives. But sometimes, it’s good to have fun with books that put a twist on those much revered faves. Bug has one such read for you that also dishes up the perfect summer vibes!


Bug here—local goblin punk and bookseller—here to tell you about a new release I’m excited about! (And you should be too!)

Of course, I’m talking about The Great Gatsby.

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Er… well, sort of. As you may or may not know, many books entered the public domain this year, which basically means we get amazing works like The Great Gatsby But Nick Has Scoliosis and no one will get sued. (Sorry, we don’t carry that one) With that being said, imagine a version of the Gatsby story, told by a queer, magical (like truly HAS MAGIC) Vietnamese woman in 1920’s New York. Throw in a magic-infused alternate timeline, Demon Blood Wine, and did I mention a queer. woman of color? The book is The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo and this magical narrator is of course, golf star Jordan Baker!

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Again, sort of. In Vo’s reimagining Jordan Baker is adopted into the wealthy Baker family from Vietnam, an outsider due in part to her heritage, but also her ability to craft enchantments. When her childhood friend Daisy tries to set her up with her cousin Nick, Jordan takes little interest in him—until the unsettling Jay Gatsby begins asking her to put in a good word for him. The novel includes rich flashbacks to Daisy and Jordan’s teen years; Jordan discovering her queerness and learning to accept her magic as a part of her identity in a magic-infused, prohibition-era New York.

Don’t worry! I know, I know… “Bug, I just want to read the classics this summer! I love Fitzgerald!” Hey, I feel ya, but don’t worry, baby birds. Vo’s prose is only rivaled by that of Mr. F. Scott himself and her dive into magical realism is attention-grabbing and beautiful. You know that green light at the end of Daisy’s dock that every English teacher made us overanalyze to death? I think it was representing the long wait for The Chosen and The Beautiful all along.

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I’ll be back with some more summer reads soon!


You can order The Chosen and the Beautiful from BookPeople online and find it in-store now. 

IMG_4787About Bug: Bug is a 2,700 year old Goblin Bookseller here at BookPeople! She/They enjoys getting tattoos, screaming about anime villains, and drinking iced coffee in the snow.

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