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Guest Strategist Haul: What Susan Orlean Bought in September

Photo: Noah Fecks

Every month, the Strategist editors do their version of a haul blog, jibber-jabbering about their favorite purchases of the last four weeks. To get that same personality and taste insight (via receipts), we’re inviting interesting friends of the Strat to run down their own buys. For this installment of the Guest Strat Haul, Susan Orlean, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of The Orchid Thief and the new The Library Book, tells us what she bought in September.

I know I’m the last person on Earth to try contouring, and I’m not convinced I’m really going to do it, which is why I got this palette from Elf, which makes really good cheap makeup. If I can’t find my cheekbones, at least I won’t have lost a fortune.

Every few months, I decide I’m going to start writing notes to people rather than emailing. This is partly because people absolutely love getting handwritten notes, and also because I love buying stationery. Plus I am a sucker for all the Pantone color swatch stuff (Pantone 16-0421 Sage, anyone?). The only problem is I love these notecards so much I kind of hate using them.

I could probably throw away all the rest of my cookware and just have this and never be sorry. It’s gigantic and it’s the best skillet I’ve ever had. End of discussion.

The sales clerk who showed these to me said they were part of Westwood’s “drunk uncle” line. I don’t know that that’s a look I aspire to, but I couldn’t resist a pair of plaid overalls. They’re the kind of clothing item I will either live in until they fall apart or I’ll look at them in a few months and wonder what I was smoking when I bought them.

Writers aren’t supposed to have business cards because … well, I’m not really sure why except that they suggest a degree of corporate professionalism that is at odds with the saggy-baggy mad genius you’re supposed to project as a writer (or so I’m told). The trouble is, I think business cards are kind of convenient and also can be pretty cool-looking. I designed my current ones to look like a deck of cards that were all queen of hearts.

I never buy perfume because my husband hates it, but I had three hours to kill in the Dubai Airport recently, which means … DUTY-FREE SHOPPING GALORE! I mostly just look at this pretty bottle, or wear the perfume when my husband is out of town.

I never appreciated how much you need a printer until we had to move into a temporary residence while our house was being renovated. My printer is in storage somewhere, along with the majority of our possessions. Most everything else we could do without, but it seemed like every day there was something we needed to print. Canon printers are little workhorses — even this one, which is about the cheapest model they make.

I know, I know – who would have ever imagined this collaboration? (By the way, my son just shuddered when he read the word “collaboration” and told me the correct term was “collab.” My apologies.) I feel like a Japanese schoolgirl when I wear these, which I assume is the point.

Jins is the Warby Parker of Japan, and they’re just expanding into the U.S. (right now they’re only in California, but I suspect they have bigger plans). They actually make your glasses while you’re waiting, so you can pick up a new pair almost on a whim. Since I need distance glasses, reading glasses, and progressives (don’t envy me, please), I like that Jins glasses are inexpensive and very stylish.

I love a multipurpose item. This is a shirt, a dress, a robe, a Halloween costume, and probably many other things I haven’t figured out yet (emergency shelter? Blanket? The possibilities seem endless).

In my dreams, I spend a month (or a year) holed up in my living room just watching the Criterion Collection movies on Filmstruck, and then moving onto, say, their James Mason movies or their Academy Award winners of the ’40s. That fantasy is probably going to remain a fantasy for the foreseeable future, but at least I now have the membership. That’s a start.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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Guest Strategist Haul: What Susan Orlean Bought in September