updated 09/04/2014 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 09/04/2014 AT 6:45 PM ET
The popular nursery rhyme says, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage,” but where does career fall into that mix? For many modern women, work precedes the other life events.
This week our staff is reading fiction about other hard-working gals. And these protagonists are all trying to find that elusive work-life balance.
Share your thoughts on their choices – and let us know what you’re reading.
Her Pick: When We Fall by Emily Liebert
I’m thoroughly intrigued by Liebert’s latest novel When We Fall, which delves into the complexities of female friendships. A young, widowed single mom and working artist, Allison, meets a socialite type, Charlotte, who stays busy planning fundraisers and fretting about her weight, her marriage and more. I can relate to the opposites attract experience of learning about yourself through the eyes of a new friend who sees you very differently from how you see yourself.
Her Pick: The House Girl by Tara Conklin
Honestly, I judged this book by its cover. The green background seemed peaceful and the woman’s silhouette, alluring. With the loads of new literature that pours into our office, it’s hard not to pick from the pile superficially. But seeing that the Where’d You Go Bernadette author, Maria Semple, endorsed this one, I figured I wouldn’t be disappointed. Debut novelist Tara Conklin sets up two seemingly disparate worlds – Josephine is an embattled house slave on a Virginia plantation in the 1850s, while in the present, Carolina is an ambitious young Manhattan lawyer, hoping to make partner before 30. The past and present collide when Carolina takes on a high profile slave reparations case, forcing her to see slavery as much more than just “that bad thing that happened a long time ago.” I’m only a third of the way through, but between Josephine’s gut-wrenching narrative and Carolina’s own mysterious backstory, I’m glad I had an eye for this one. It’s weighty and worth it.
Her Pick: The Circle by Dave Eggers
Every Dave Eggers book has the same effect on me: A few chapters in, I’m so engrossed that I start to feel like everything happening to the main character is happening to me. This was especially true (and especially disturbing) with his latest novel, about a young woman, Mae, who gets a job at The Circle, the biggest tech company in the world, modeled not-so-subtly after Google and Facebook. It seems like a dream gig, but the reader quickly realizes there’s more to it than free meals and other cool perks. Mae gets wrapped up in The Circle’s plan to well, take over the world sounds dramatic. But let’s just say they’re looking to do what no other company has done before – and it’s a little bit cool, a little bit freaky. Mae has to decide what to do, and Eggers’ on-point and funny writing made me feel like I was right there, struggling through every choice.
Check back Thursdays for more round ups of staff picks, and see more book reviews each week in PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands now. Plus, check out past staff picks like tales of young love and loss and more great book finds here.