Dickens. Woolf. A searing memoir of postwar life, stories of exile and emigration, and one writer's sleepless nights. The novelist likes books that make time (and life) stand still.
When I was young, I used to read one book at a time. Now I'm always in the middle of several at once. The first way has always seemed better to me, but though I've often tried to discipline myself back to the habit of one at a time, I never succeed.

Say there's truth in the notion that when you're young you need a great many books, but when you're old you'll need just a few. I don't like this at all. Such a prospect makes me melancholy.

Only a child or a fool believes everything he or she reads, but oh, how I long to be—at least some of the time—just that kind of childish, gullible reader again!

Deep in a story, I have sometimes been lucky enough to reach that place where time vanishes and life comes to a standstill. It is partly this that keeps sending me back to the bookshelf—the hope of recapturing that blessed moment when, in the words of Nabokov, "everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die."

Sigrid Nunez's new novel is The Last of Her Kind (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) .

What's on Sigrid Nunez's Bookshelf? Read more!


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