A Remarkable Debut

September 2023 View more

‘Remarkably Bright Creatures’ by Shelby Van Pelt

Wheaton resident Shelby Van Pelt burst onto the literary scene last year with her debut novel, Remarkably Bright Creatures. This story of an unlikely friendship between a widow and a giant Pacific octopus was selected as a Read With Jenna book club pick and quickly made the New York Times bestseller list. Then, after appearing on numerous “Best of 2022” lists, the novel returned to the Times list and has remained there for much of 2023. “It’s a little bit unusual,” Van Pelt says. “My publishers were surprised but thrilled.”

Shelby Van Pelt

Van Pelt credits book clubs for the novel’s sustained success: “It’s great for book clubs because it’s fluid and easy to read yet it touches on some heavier themes of grief, loss, and community. It hits that sweet spot of appealing to a broad range of people by being an enjoyable read that also provides fodder for conversations about harder topics.” She loves to visit book clubs when she can. “It’s so cool to see people creating community around books. It’s such an important thing in our modern era to still have physical connections and relationships that are built around books.”


Photo: Shelby Van Pelt