In addition to adding Nell Stevens’ Bleaker House to your ‘to be read’ list, here are some more titles to consider as recommended by Nell herself.
1. Middlemarch, George Eliot
I complained about the length of this book when my high school English teacher assigned it over the summer, but being told to read it was one of the greatest gifts I’ve received. I come back to it time and again, to be reminded of literature’s capacity to educate, thrill and devastate.
2. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
The stories in this collection are poised and brutal; Lahiri knows just when to hold back, when to twist the knife.
3. Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
Immersive and distant, intimate and controlled: Slouching Towards Bethlehem was the first book by Didion I read, and so my most beloved. I adore the moments when the first person juts into the narrative with surprising force, and then recedes.
4. A Little Life, Hanya Yanigahara
Of the novels I’ve read recently, this one has stayed with me the most vibrantly. Yanigahara brilliantly conjures relationships over a broad sweep of time, while homing in on small and large moments of betrayal, failure, and, most affectingly, kindness.
5. Artful, Ali Smith
This book does intricate, fascinating things with genre and story: a series of lectures that Smith herself delivered at Oxford University—On Time, On Form, On Edge, and On Offer and On Reflection—wrapped up in a narrative of loss, grief and haunting.