Name: Jaime Elsey
Where you live: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Insta handle: @absorbedinpages
Current read: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
What has been your favorite read of the past year?
The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles. It was sweeping, beautifully written, and engrossing.
What is one book that you think will (or should) become a classic in the next 30 (or 50) years? Why?
The Mothers by Brit Bennett The writing blew me away and the story had a profound effect on me.
Imagine this. You and a celebrity of your choice are becoming friends. They have asked you for a book rec. Who is the celebrity and what book do you recommend?
Michelle Obama — I would for sure put Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward into her hands. Jesmyn Ward’s memoir is so beautifully crafted and reflective — I can see Michelle loving it as much as I did.
How do you choose your next read?
I can get overwhelmed with the large amount of books on my unread shelf. I discovered last year I like to pick a list of books I’d like to read and just pull from that stack based on mood. I give myself a little space to choose from that based on mood and I don’t guilt myself if I don’t get to all of them!
What book meant the most to you as a child?
I’d have to say C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe — I loved entering the fantasy land of Narnia. Being a kid and getting lost in the timeless fairly tale really made me fall in love with reading.
What is your favorite adaptation from book to film, theater, or television? What book do you wish would be adapted?
I haven’t seen the movie (I have plans to soon!) yet I know I will love it — If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. I would love for Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou adapted into film or television series — that book takes you on a wild ride.
What’s the one book everyone loves that you just cannot stand?
I know I will be an outlier here. Educated by Tara Westover — some parts of Tara’s story was very compelling and there other parts of her story I found it to be lacking in clarity and reflectiveness I look for while reading memoirs. In short, it was a hard read and not for me.
What is your favorite book set in or around the area where you live?
I’m a Southern (NOLA born and raised) bookworm and there are so many good books (fiction and nonfiction) set in the South that I love! The two that are forever favorites for me are The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.
What is one classic you think is not overrated?
For sure The Color Purple by Alice Walker — it is so heart breaking yet it’s transformative with truly rich, female characters.
If you had to declare yourself an expert in one extremely specific genre, what would it be?
Sweeping, character driven, saga-type novels.
What is your go-to book recommendation?
Whew! This is a hard question. It’s usually a book that’s engaging, compelling and one I’ve recently finished that I want to put in everyone’s hands. Lately, I’ve been recommending The Reckonings by Lacy M. Johnson.
What book changed your worldview in some way?
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s about the decades long migration of black citizens who fled the South for western and northern cities. It was sweeping and eye opening.
If you could inhabit the life of one fictional character for a day, who would you choose?
Jessi from The Babysitters Club — she loves animals, reading and wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself!
Who do you think is the greatest female author?
Reading is something that I love to do and something I’m very passionate about. I love to read!
What’s at the top of your TBR or wish list?
Top of my TBR — A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh.
A few books at the top of my wishlist —On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, The Affairs of the Falcóns by Melissa Rivero, The Source of Self Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Mediations by Toni Morrison and The Other Americans by Laila Lalami.