Book of the Week: The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi

This modern day novel expresses the age-old belief that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It follows Barb and her friends as they navigate societal norms when it comes to appearance. Barb’s close group of friends is shaken up after they lose one of their own to suicide partially due to Barb’s beauty. All of her friends share the artistic gene and hold weekly “Nights of Creation” sessions where they each practice their own talent. Stunning Barb’s is costume making, while Lily, the most talented of them all, plays the piano but is “inoperably ugly” according to Barb.

Barb and Lily both attempt to get away from society’s expectations and what ensues involves Barb using her costuming abilities to make herself “ugly” and fool men into treating her poorly. In the background of this chaos, post-dated letters from Barb’s deceased friend begin appearing—leading her to believe there is a murderer amongst them. The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty incorporates a discussion topic into an entertaining work of fiction that makes you wonder about where you stand from the world’s view.    

The Reading Room recommends this book to those looking for a new dark-humor fiction read and are prepared to think about life’s difficult questions. We recommend it because the book begs such important questions that human beings can become unsure of the answer to from time to time. 

Photo: W.W. Norton