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 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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Miss Pym Disposes

Miss Pym Disposes

Josephine Tey wrote quiet stories, and Miss Pym Disposes is one of my favorite. A girls’ school, a murder, a busybody. But the friendship at the center of this book is deeper, and more frightening than the simple plot might suggest.

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The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

The first book in Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series. Check out the audio version in which a full-character cast includes the author’s dynamic narration. I find the daemon to be one of the most remarkable conceits in literature.

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These Truths

These Truths

An absolutely stunning history of the United States. You know how you feel when you listen to Hamilton? Like you are seeing your country for the first time? Yeah, this book is like that.

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Name All the Animals
Master and Commander

Master and Commander

If I’d pursued a dissertation, it would have involved the Aubrey/Maturin books, with a particular emphasis on his three major female characters. O’Brian is a master of the anti-climax, and this series is superb.

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The Library Book

The Library Book

Initially, Orlean's nonfiction takes us on a search for the arsonist of the Central Library fire in 1986. And then a history of libraries in Los Angeles. And finally an exploration of open spaces in our culture. It is written with so much love and curiosity that I frequently found myself in tears.

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