NK Jemisin book recommendations


Welcome to Lifetime, The books section of ELLE.com, in which the authors share their most memorable reads. Whether you’re looking for a book to console you, move you deeply, or make you laugh, consider a recommendation from the writers in our series, who, like you (because you’re here), love books. Maybe one of their favorite titles will also become one of yours.

NK Jemisin understands that to build worlds, you have to understand this one. The only person to win three Best Novel Hugo Awards in a row (for each post-apocalypse title broken earth trilogy), the NYT-the best-selling science fiction and fantasy author has just published The world we create (Orbit), the second in its Great Cities duology (the first was The city we have become), among his many books. She also won a Hugo Best Short Novelette for emergency skin and Best Hugo Graphic Story for Distant sectora Green Lantern spin-off for DC Comics and wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of the broken earth series, which will be produced by Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society.

Jemisin, born in Iowa, grew up between Mobile, Alabama and Brooklyn, where she now lives. A psychology major at Tulane who earned a master’s degree in education at the University of Maryland, she was a college guidance counselor and educational consultant, wrote the Otherworldly SFF column for the New York Times Book Reviewand received a MacArthur Fellowship.

She is playful and a gardener, has a ginger cat named King Ozzymandias (Ozzy for short) and a tuxedoed cat named The Marvelous Master Magpie (Maggie for short), teaches a Master class on the construction of the world, has a Patreonwas on Time’s 100 Most Influential People listing (written by Stacey Abrams), once gate Sushi spam on a heat vent on a Hawaiian volcanic crater, is in anime, manga and sentai, is ccousins with W. Kamau Bell, and loves candy corn.

Good at: Writing fanfiction under pseudonyms. Not so good at: Double Dutch, quick texting. His book recs below YW.

The book that…

…kept me up way too late:

Tailhunter’s Song by Tad Williams, which begins as a children’s story and then becomes something very dark.

… shaped my view of the world:

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler.

…I read in one sitting, it was so good:

Mechanical by Genevieve Valentine.

… currently sits on my bedside table:

The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones.

… I would pass on to a child:

Stamp by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

…I first bought:

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I have it on good authority that when I was about four years old I bought this with gift money.

…should be included in all university curricula:

Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD.

…I never went back to the library (mea culpa):

I scrupulously returned the books to the library and must defend myself on this point!

… sealed a friendship:

A first edition of The Lord of the Ringswhich I lent to a friend who recently contacted me about them, rekindling the friendship after a decade!

…has the most beautiful book jacket:

A copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with a damask cover of vines in ruby ​​and black.

…everyone should read:

One of many books by queer and POC authors who are being challenged by conservatives, via your local library. If they are no longer available in your library because curators got there first, join your local library board and fight to get them back. Reading – and the freedom to speak truth to power – is part of a framework of fairness and justice that is under attack in ways not seen in a generation. Fight for all books. Or else.

…who remembers the recipe of a favorite dish:

Salt Fatty Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. After a life of food defined by what it doesn’t ai, this book is an eye opener – it’s less about a specific recipe in the book and more about changing my relationship to ingredients and preparation.

Read Jemisin’s picks:
Tailhunter's Song
The 1619 Project
The 1619 Project

Now 43% off

Pippi Longstocking
Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?
Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?

Now 50% off

The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings

Now 11% off

Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
Acid Fatty Salt Heat

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