Portrait by David Goddard / Illustration by Yousra Attia
Welcome to Shelf Life, ELLE.com’s books column, in which authors share their most memorable reads. Whether you’re on the hunt for a book to console you, move you profoundly, or make you laugh, consider a recommendation from the writers in our series, who, like you (since you’re here), love books. Perhaps one of their favorite titles will become one of yours, too.
Kiley Reid’s debut novel, Such a Fun Age, is a propulsive read about race and class featuring a 25-year-old babysitter and her privileged employer. Reid will be an executive producer on the film adaptation of her bestseller, which was long-listed for the 2020 Booker Prize, for Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad production company along with Sight Unseen Pictures.
Before her publishing debut, Reid worked as a nanny, barista, receptionist, and at Godiva. She also studied theater and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She now lives in Philadelphia, after falling in love with the city after seeing a 2015 Beyoncé concert there in the pouring rain. Read on to see what else she’s fallen for.
The book that:
…made me miss a train stop:
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Missed my stop completely, and this was on a second read. It’s that good.
…I recommend over and over again:
David Barthelme’s short story “The School.”
…currently sits on my nightstand:
Knocking The Hustle by Lester K. Spence.
…I’d gift to a new graduate:
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer.
…made me laugh out loud:
Gish Jen’s short story Who’s Irish?
…I’d like turned into a Netflix show:
How To Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell. I loved it. Read it in two days. I’d binge it in less than that.
…I first bought:
Goosebumps. All the Goosebumps. R.L. Stine knew what he was doing.
…I last bought:
…has the best title:
Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.
…has the best opening line:
“I was born in Harlem thirty-one years ago.” Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin.
…should be on every college syllabus:
Why You Should Be A Socialist by Nathan J. Robinson.
…I consider literary comfort food:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
…features the most beautiful book jacket:
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is gorgeous. It’s the prettiest jacket I saw last year.
…I’d want signed by the author for my library:
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.
…that holds the recipe to a favorite dish:
The Ancestral Table by Russ Crandall. Chili con carne. It lasts for days and makes your home smell wonderful.
Bonus question: If I could live in any library or bookstore in the world, it would be:
The Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas. There were many days I felt like I actually did live in this library, as I resided in Fayetteville for a year before graduate school. It’s quiet and beautiful, and there’s a room with an extremely high ceiling that is shaped like the inside of a book spine. It’s incredible.
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