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Stephanie Kelley's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Stephanie Kelley recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Stephanie Kelley's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Nobody's Looking at You


A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. A 2019 NPR Staff Pick.

"Malcolm is always worth reading; it can be instructive to see how much satisfying craft she brings to even the most trivial article." --Phillip Lopate, TLS

Janet Malcolm's previous collection, Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers, was "unmistakably the work of a master" (The New York Times Book Review). Like Forty-One False Starts, Nobody's Looking at You brings together previously uncompiled pieces, mainly from The New...
Recommended by Stephanie Kelley, and 1 others.

Stephanie KelleyA longtime journalist for the New Yorker, Malcolm’s investigations tend to take apparently ordinary institutions or scenes and, through her unrivaled powers of curiosity, observation and description, reveal their extraordinary inner workings. (Source)

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A finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, here is an evocative novel about female friendship in the glittering 1980s.

Alison and Veronica meet amid the nocturnal glamour of 1980s New York: One is a young model stumbling away from the wreck of her career, the other an eccentric middle-aged office temp. Over the next twenty years their friendship will encompass narcissism and tenderness, exploitation and self-sacrifice, love and mortality. Moving seamlessly from present and past, casting a fierce yet compassionate eye on two eras and...
Recommended by Stephanie Kelley, and 1 others.

Stephanie KelleyGaitskill delights in peeling back the skins of her suffering, often nasty characters and showing you the vulnerable, frail human beings desperate for love underneath. There’s nothing quite like it. (Source)

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The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979

Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle

The correspondence between one of the most famous couples of twentieth-century literature

The Dolphin Letters offers an unprecedented portrait of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick during the last seven years of Lowell's life (1970 to 1977), a time of personal crisis and creative innovation for both writers. Centered on the letters they exchanged with each other and with other members of their circle--writers, intellectuals, friends, and publishers, including Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Blackwood, Mary McCarthy, and Adrienne Rich--the book has the narrative...
Recommended by Stephanie Kelley, and 1 others.

Stephanie KelleyThe whole saga of The Dolphin Letters and their friends’ reactions to it—Lowell and Hardwick’s circle included Mary McCarthy, Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Hannah Arendt, to name just a few—is just fascinating (even if you’ve never read any of these writers, but especially if you have). This book is long-awaited, and most definitely worth the wait. Essential for any serious... (Source)

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Life with Picasso

Françoise Gilot's candid memoir remains the most revealing portrait of Picasso written, and gives fascinating insight into the intense and creative life shared by two modern artists.

Françoise Gilot was in her early twenties when, in 1943, she met the sixty-one-year-old Pablo Picasso. Brought up in upper-middle-class comfort and educated at Cambridge and the Sorbonne in the hopes that she would go into the law, the young woman defied her family’s wishes—and her father’s wrath—and set out to become an artist. Her introduction to Picasso led to a friendship, a love affair, and...
Recommended by Glen Mazzara, Stephanie Kelley, and 2 others.

Glen MazzaraJust finished this great book. An amazing read by a brilliant woman exploring all the complexities of being an artist - not just Picasso but herself as well. In all honesty, one of the best books I’ve ever read. (Source)

Stephanie KelleyThis book is a remarkably humane but damning diagnosis of a man and his faults, a testament to a great artist, an invaluable document providing a rare look behind the curtain at the fierce debates and relationships among artists in Picasso’s circle. (Source)

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This thrilling critique of the forces vying for our attention re-defines what we think of as productivity, shows us a new way to connect with our environment and reveals all that we’ve been too distracted to see about our selves and our world.

When the technologies we use every day collapse our experiences into 24/7 availability, platforms for personal branding, and products to be monetized, nothing can be quite so radical as… doing nothing. Here, Jenny Odell sends up a flare from the heart of Silicon Valley, delivering an action plan to resist capitalist narratives of...
Recommended by Ezra Klein, Bryan Formhals, Bo Ren, and 8 others.

Ezra KleinThat's from @the_jennitaur's book "How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy," which hit me particularly hard, and made this conversation such a delight. (Source)

Bryan FormhalsSuch a great book. Gave me a lot of confidence to pursue some new ideas. (Source)

Bo Ren@ClaytonHartford @the_jennitaur Best book I read in 2019! A must-read. (Source)

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