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.
You probably already know Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna from Girls or Annie on The Flight Attendant, currently on HBO Max, among many roles from TV, film, and stage. (Who remembers her as photo editor Joyce on Mad Men?) Add author to her list of credits, now that she’s edited an anthology of essays, My First Popsicle (Penguin Books), on food and the emotions they evoke. There’s Katie Holmes on her grandmother’s peanut butter cookies, David Sedaris on hot dogs and Jell-O, Gabourey Sidibe on the Senegalese dish poulet yassa, and Anita Lo on dumplings.
The Vermont-born, California- and Massachusetts-raised actress has a rescue mutt named Moose and a horse named Ten, has lots of tattoos (including the word “Boop” she and FA co-star Kaley Cuoco got plus matching paper airplanes with the show’s costume department); appeared in campaigns for Levi’s and David Yurman plus did a jewelry collab with Sophie Ratner; and had aura readings for guests at her wedding (she wore black Givenchy.)
In addition to a second book, a personal essay collection, her next projects include sci-fi romantic comedy Molli & Max in the Future and Marvel movie Madame Web.
Fan of: unicorns, card games, flavored coffee, Christmas (her essay is on plum pudding). Season’s readings.
The book that…
…kept me up way too late:
The Trespasser by Tana French. Any Tana French novel. Nobody writes page-turner mystery quite like Tana French. I have, no joke, actually held my eyelids open so I can keep reading. That’s how badly she makes you NEED to know what’s gonna happen next.
…made me weep uncontrollably:
Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl. This book is so gorgeous in so many ways but the way Ruth Reichl writes about loss at the end of the book left me reeling for a while.
…I recommend over and over again:
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This book…Just read it. You won’t regret it.
…I swear I’ll finish one day:
War and Peace…Maybe….
…I read in one sitting, it was that good:
Heroes of the Frontier. I LOVE Dave Eggers. But this one in particular. I just couldn’t put it down.
…made me laugh out loud:
Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher.
…has the best title:
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gaily Honeyman. This book is so marvelous and the title sets the tone for the entire read in such a fantastic way.
…has the best opening lines:
“When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, Leo Gursky is survived by an apartment full of shit.” The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is a genius, heartfelt, hilarious and human novel, and I know I am not alone in that assessment. And she gets you from the first line.
…broke my heart:
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This book literally spans a lifetime. Boyne makes you fall in love with his characters as if they were your dearest friends. And when anything happens to them it is truly heartbreaking. Another brilliant read but have the tissues at the ready.
…has a sex scene that will make you blush:
The Pisces by Melissa Broder.
…features a character I love to hate:
A Time to Be Born by Dawn Powell. Amanda Keeler is horrible and human and smart and flawed in all the most marvelous ways.
…helped me become a better writer:
Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz. Reading Eve’s work made me realize I can make my own rules. Also her writing is so painfully good it truly just makes me continuously want to be better.
…I’ve re-read the most:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Who doesn’t want to go back to Manderley?!
…I consider literary comfort food:
Agatha Christie novels. All day every day.
…makes me feel seen:
Heartburn by Nora Ephron.
…I could only have discovered at BOOKS on Melrose & La Brea:
Truman Capote: Dear Heart Old Buddy by John Malcolm Brinnin. This was one of my favorite bookstores of all time. It is devastatingly no longer there but I would spend hours in this Narnia of books.
City of Thieves by David Benioff. I had no idea what this book was about but I was in a reading rut and it was recommended to me. It totally knocked my socks off and quickly became one of my favorite reads ever.
Riza Cruz is an editor and writer based in New York.