Jasmine Guillory’s Book Recommendations


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

For those who dream of trading one career for another, let Jasmine Guillory guide you. The Stanford Law School graduate practiced corporate and public interest law for more than 10 years ago – in search of a creative outlet that no amount of pastry could satisfy – by participating in National Novel Writing Month. Although her first attempt, a YA romance novel, was never published, she persevered through over a hundred rejections and became a New York Times– bestselling author whose first four books were chosen by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine. She wrote the romance novels she wanted to read: ones that showed black women falling in love, enjoying successful careers, cultivating deep friendships. His sixth book, While we were dating (Berkley), was released this month.

Oakland-based Guillory previously worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Barbara Boxer’s office, reads 200-300 romance novels a year, and was the answer to a Peril! index (our third Shelf Lifer with this distinction). Libra, a night person and a member of the Sussex team, she started gardening during the pandemic and has a kitchen To hack if your face starts to burn if you touch it after handling chili peppers.

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Likes: peonies, Atomic owl nail art, Sarah Kieffer’s pan-banging cookies, Sydney hale candles, Hawaiian vacation. Dislikes: getting up early, the cold, horror movies, pudding. Like his books, his Substack bulletin often includes food, and now her quiz does too.

The book that …

… kept me awake far too late:

The glass hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. I opened this book one evening when I got into the tub around 10pm. I didn’t close the book until I finished it some time after 2 a.m. after adding hot water to my bath a few times.

… made me cry uncontrollably:

Red to the bone by Jacqueline Woodson. Jacqueline Woodson is somehow able to tear your heart into two pieces but also make your heart fat three sizes. I don’t know how she does it.

… I recommend again and again:

You should see me in a crown by Léa Johnson. I have recommended this book dozens of times and to so many different people, and I can’t stop doing it. I liked everything about it and it made me smile from ear to ear when I was done.

… made me rethink a long-held belief:

Good conversation by Mira Jacob. Before reading Good conversation, I thought I didn’t like, or didn’t have, graphic novels. But wow, this book made me realize how amazing this shape can be.

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… I swear that I will finish one day:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I read the first three quarters of this book during the pandemic and loved it all. But the thing is, I know what happens at the end, and as soon as I could tell we were getting there, I stopped reading. My emotions were too fragile. One day, I will have the strength to finish! (But… is it so wrong to decide that they’ve lived happily ever after?)

… Is currently sitting on my bedside table:

Sometimes I stumble over how happy we could be by Nichole Perkins [August 2021]. I recently received an advance copy of this upcoming brief, and I am very happy to begin it.

… I would give a gift to a new graduate:

Delicious girl by Morgan Rogers. This book captures the feeling of having graduated and then wondering what you are going to do with the rest of your life and how to become your own person.

… made me laugh out loud:

We never meet in real life by Samantha Irby. Be careful reading this book! I laughed so hard while reading it that I almost passed out in the tub. (Yes, I do most of my reading in the tub!)

… I would like to transform into a Netflix show:

Intercepted by Alexa Martin. I love all of Alexa Martin’s books, and they’re all so ripe for the big or small screen!

… I bought for the last time:

Snacks Cakes by Yossy Arefi. I love snacks and love to cook, which is why the title of this book appealed to me from the start. The recipes are all for what kind of cakes you can make spontaneously when you procrastibake, which I do often.

… has the best title:

The Secret Life of the Ladies of the Church by Deesha Philyaw. That title alone made me want to jump into the book, even though I consider myself to be someone who doesn’t like short stories. I might be wrong, because I loved every one of this news.

… has the best opening line:

Rebecca by Daphné du Maurier. “Last night I dreamed I was going to Manderley again.” Don’t you just get chills?

… has the greatest ending:

Back home by Yaa Gyasi. I love absolutely everything about this book, and the ending filled me with joy and wonder.

… Should appear on every university program:

Everything you can ever know by Nicole Chung. This book explores so much about America: race, class, and family, in particular. It’s an amazing read, with so much that a college class could talk about.

… everyone should read:

The heat of other suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I learned so much not only about American history, but also about my own family and why my grandparents and great-grandparents made the choices they made. An incredible book.

… I would like signed by the author:

How to write an autobiographical novel by Alexandre Chee. This collection of essays is about writing, and life, and life as a writer and as a person, and I reread it frequently. It means so much to me, and I look forward to receiving a signed copy one day.

… I asked for a Christmas when I was a child:

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I asked for – and got – this for Christmas when I was a kid, it’s a huge leather volume with gold tipped pages, and I was nice to meet you about that. I was a very nerdy kid!

… which contains the recipe for a favorite dish:

Louisiana cuisine by Chef Paul Prudhomme by Paul Prudhomme. Her Cajun Seafood Okra with Andouille Smoked Sausage recipe is the one my mom and I always make together (with our own edits). Just the smell of cooking makes me happy.

Bonus question:

If I could live in any library or bookstore in the world it would be: The Library of The beauty and the Beast, of course!


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