My Bookshelf

I love to read, and I love to share the books I read. Here are some books that climbed inside me.

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Thanks,
Jill

The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit

The best stories are surprising and inevitable. The Queen’s Gambit is such a story. Fragile, and ruthless, and honest — the deep and terrifying mystery of genius.

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Cultural Amnesia

Cultural Amnesia

An astonishing collection of essays: anti-establishment, insightful, tough-minded. When I read Cultural Amnesia I felt tethered to all the world.

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Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Elizabeth Wein's novel is such a compelling read that you find yourself enduring situations so taut and subtle that you hold your breath paragraph after paragraph. A pilot and a spy in World War II, the story follows two young women on a mission in occupied France.

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The Little Women

The Little Women

Katharine Weber’s novel The Little Women explores the aftermath of parental betrayal, and the cannibalizing of personal details by an author, and the life of characters on and off the page. For me, the novel expands into fascinating layers of metafiction.

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Magician’s Assistant

Magician’s Assistant

Patchett’s prose is hard and tender and feels like love. The Magician’s Assistant is a book to savor.

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Karen Joy Fowler's wit is wild. I've lost track of the number of times I've read The Jane Austen Book Club. But this novel is another thing entirely. A story about family, memory, primates, sisters, jealousy, science. I'm not sure I have read a book more perfectly executed than this one. It's about story, yes, but so much more. It's about everything all at once.

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The Emperor’s Children

The Emperor’s Children

Claire Messud’s ironic, powerfully human story of three thirty-year-old New Yorkers is shattering and lush and gorgeous. Imagine Austen colliding with James and tackling the complex struggle of perception and reality in late American society. Let this book work you over.

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Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

My favorite novel: indelible and lovely.

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Station Eleven

Station Eleven

This amazing book reminds me of Bel Canto with the strange juxtaposition of art and death, suffering and gossip. But Station Eleven is more devastating in scope, more terrifying and more hopeful. In its aftermath, I have never been as grateful for coffee and fruit in my life.

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Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

The narrator in Never Let Me Go tells a story unlike any you have ever read. The tension in Ishiguro’s novel is unrelenting, and even as you piece the plot together, you will not be prepared for the revelations.

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Didion has style to burn, and a terseness of tone no one has ever quite captured again. Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a classic collection of essays.

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Pax

Pax

Pax is a story about trauma. And love, and family, and war, and the relationship between children and animals. And guilt. But more than anything, it's a story about trauma; and once I had finished Sara Pennypacker's novel, which is itself traumatic, I wanted to hand this book to everyone near and far and tell them the experience of this story is cathartic.

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