Welcome to Shelf Life, ELLE.com’s book column, where authors share their unforgettable reads. If you are looking for a book that will comfort you, move you deeply, and maybe even make you laugh, consider a recommendation from the writers of our history, like you (while you are here), love books. Maybe one of their favorite titles will be yours.
Ruth Ware’s crime fiction novels have topped international bestseller lists, made short and long lists, and captivated Hollywood, and her streak will never let up. his latest. The Girl (Gallery/Scout Press). After writing five young adult novels (under her real name Ruth Warburton), she changed names and genres in 2015. Since then, her books have been nominated for film and television by the likes of New Line Cinema starring Reese Witherspoon (In a dark, dark wood), Netflix (The woman in the 10th housecurrently in development), and the production title with Max Minghella and Jamie Bell writing the screenplay (The Turn of the Key).
The Sussex-based writer (he grew up near Brighton) graduated from Manchester University; She studied English in Paris and worked as a waitress, bookseller, and publisher at Random House; she has two young sons with her virologist husband, and two cats; a Trouble! mark or answer three times; and you want to see the aurora borealis one day. Likes: trees and woods (especially Scottish), tours of stately homes, skiing, fall, secret doors, Tove Jansson, new buildings, Small Batch Coffee Goldstone decaf; hot water bottle, Wordle, cake. Dislikes: running. Return with: nursery school. Click on the books below.
The book is…
… I wept uncontrollably:
The Time Traveler Woman by Audrey Niffenegger. I never cry—in books, in life, in anything. But something about the ending of that book struck me.
…I often recommend:
Probably Edmund de Waal The Hare with Amber Eyes. History, biography, art history, and personal reflection rolled into one. I recommend it to many people.
…I promise I will finish it one day:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I may have started that book about four times and never got more than 20 percent, but I will overcome. One day.
…I read it in one sitting, that’s good:
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My sister, the murderer. It helps that it’s short and sweet, but also dark and funny.
…I present a gift to a new graduate:
The beach by Alex Garland. It’s like a reminder of what not to do on your annual trip.
…I want to be a Netflix show:
Abir Mukherjee’s Wyndham and Banerjee series. I’m an armchair traveller, and this is the perfect place for me – post-World War I India, all wrapped up in delicious mystery.
…I recently bought:
Anna Mazzola The Salary Girl. I actually bought it for a friend as I read it first.
… has the best opening line:
Maybe Daphne du Maurier Rebecca. “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again” – I mean how evocative is that? I want to write an opening line that is hypnotic. I was also given a lifetime of writing “series” (rather than a dream).
…a sex scene that will make you blush:
I don’t know if you will be disappointed, but Seven days of June by Tia Williams is a heady mix of book love and love between papers.
…I re-read too much:
Probably Nancy Mitford Loves the cold. I can’t understand why, who’s counting? But I’ve probably read it at least half a dozen times and I don’t intend to stop. Unless you count picture books, otherwise The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson won hands down. I can read that in my sleep. “The mouse travels…”
…I recommend the comfort food recipe:
Anything by Agatha Christie. I turn to old guilt when things get tough. When I found myself recording Sleep Kill when the flu started, that’s when I knew the news was starting to get to me.
…that’s what keeps food in a favorite dish:
Maybe Yotam Ottolenghi or Sami Tamimi Jerusalem. The lamb shawarma recipe takes time and (of course) requires about 30 ingredients, but it’s worth it in the end. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Bonus question: If I could live in any library or bookstore in the world, it would be…
The Bodleian in Oxford. Partly because it’s an archive and since 1662 it’s had a copy of every book published in the UK, which means I’ll never miss out on reading material from either way – and partly because I think it’s a real place for you. I can stay. There were so many heads and tails that I was sure I could find a place to curl up in my sleeping bag out of the sight of the bookcases, and I thought the wise men would appreciate my sleeping time. same as mine. doesn’t sound like much. The only problem is that food is not allowed in the library, so I have to eat out a lot. I think I can put up with that.
Riza Cruz is a New York-based editor and writer.