Shelf Life: Emma Straub



Welcome to Lifetime, The books section of, 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.

This Time Tomorrow: A Novel

Emma Straub not only had to deal with releasing a book during the pandemic, but also keeping an independent bookstore afloat. She has done both, in addition to writing her fifth novel, Tomorrow at this time (Riverhead; here is the playlist), co-writing the TV script for the 2020 NYT bestseller All adults here with Madison Wells Media and helped two young sons learn remotely.

The Brooklyn-born, New York-born author earned her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where, like Shelf Lifer Lauren Groff, she studied with Lorrie Moore); is our third bookseller (it owns books are magic with her husband, who was nominated for Editors’ Weekly Bookstore of the Year), has cats named Honeybutter and Dip Dip; filmed a cameo in Reese Witherspoon’s Netflix movie Your place or mine and was a in addition in The squid and the whale; and hid authors Jennifer Egan and Zadie Smith but did approach Liev Schreiber as a high school student.

Love: Who? Weekly podcast, Birks; dune dog fish sandwiches; vintage shopping; Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate, novelists (look at her romance novel photo shoot). Bad at: in writing bad reviews, receiving freebies, taking breaks. Good at: writing thank you notes (paper, not email), listening to weather forecasters, recommending books (see below. If you want to recommend books to him, you can Sub-stack.)

The book that…

… kept me up far too late:

at Ashley Poston The dead romantics, released this summer—I didn’t want to finish it, but I just couldn’t stop reading it! It’s one of the top five feelings books can bring, that desire to keep reading after bedtime, and I loved every minute of it.

… made me cry uncontrollably:

The books that make me cry the most are the picture books. At Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis what is loveMac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby’s The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown. I guess Mac Barnett makes me cry. Really, as trustworthy as an ASPCA advertisement.

…I recommend again and again:

Marcy Dermansky Bad Mary, a novel about an unrepentant villain, fresh out of prison, who seduces her friend’s husband, steals her child and flees to Paris. This is delicious.

…I swear I will one day finish:

Well, I guess if I ever want to finish Proust, I have to start Proust.

…I would pass on to my children:

My kids read a lot of the books from my childhood – not just the titles but the actual copies – because my parents are hoarders just like me. Miss Nelson is missing!, George and Martha, all James Marshall, really. If I can make sure my kids like everything he wrote, I’ll be happy.

…I would give a new graduate a gift:

Everything but Oh, the places you’ll go– how about Ross Gay The book of delights?

…I would love to be made into a Netflix show:

Samantha Irbybooks ! All! The show should also be written by Sam. Is that actually happening? I think that’s probably the case. It’s a question of time!

…has the best opening line:

The one that comes to mind first is Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca. “Last night I dreamed that I was going back to Manderly.” Which shows you that the conventional wisdom that you shouldn’t write about dreams isn’t always true.

…should be included in all university curricula:

Nikole Hannah Jones Project 1619. This should also be in all high school curricula. I am so grateful to Hannah-Jones for compiling such a world-changing opus.

… I brought my honeymoon:

I read so many books on my honeymoon! A Sookie Stackhouse book a Steven Millhauser book a Kelly Link book. My favorite vacation is when you read so many books, all the books you packed, and then you have to find a local store to replenish your stash.

…I would like signed by the author:

Oh, how about impossibles – a Jane Austen, an Agatha Christie.

…who remembers the recipe of a favorite dish:

by Nora Ephron Stomach pains has all the recipes one could need.

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