|photo: Ellenvelde Photography
Nicole Baart is the author of 10 novels, including You Were Always Mine, Little Broken Things and Book of the Month pick Everything We Didn't Say (Atria, November 2, 2021). This haunting mystery follows a mother who must confront the summer that changed her life forever in order to reclaim the daughter she left behind. Baart lives in Iowa with her husband, five children, two turtles and their beloved dog.
On your nightstand now:
Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. I love everything Liane Moriarty writes--she's definitely an auto-buy for me. The hint of mystery, gorgeous prose and unparalleled characterization in her novels get me every time.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery. L.M. Montgomery is best known for her Anne of Green Gables books, but Emily of New Moon is even better in my opinion. Slightly darker and more realistic, the Emily books made me want to be an author.
Your top five authors:
William Kent Krueger
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Book you've faked reading:
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. I've started and stopped this book a dozen times. I know it's an important work of American literature and I should have at least a working understanding of why it's considered a classic, but I just can't do it. Give me Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Hardy, Twain, Hemingway... I love them all. But I've never read Moby-Dick.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It's 20 years old, but I never tire of this beautiful book. It's honest and dreamy, unflinching and poetic, a contradiction in terms and yet filled with a little something for everyone. It made me cry the first time and upon every reading thereafter.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more stunning, evocative cover. It's haunting and lovely and rich. I love a good gothic story and just looking at this cover gives me the happy chills that accompany what will surely be a lyrical, haunting ride. Spoiler alert: the book is as good as the cover.
Book you hid from your parents:
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. I slipped out from the young adult shelves and made my way to adult fiction when I was 12. I fell madly in love with Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, John le Carré, Vince Flynn and Harlan Coben. Probably far too much sex and violence for a preteen, but I didn't care!
Book that changed your life:
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. My dad bought me this book as a gift in high school and I read it like one eats fine chocolate: a delectable bit at a time. I don't exactly remember why it hit me so hard, but I suspect it had to do with the way Dillard can spin a phrase and her deep, enchanting love of nature.
Favorite line from a book:
"Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
I was a high school English teacher for many years, and To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorite books to teach. This line never failed to ignite heated discussions about life and courage and what it means to be a person of integrity. There's a lot to mine here.
Five books you'll never part with:
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I remember reading this book for the first time and being utterly transported. For the days that I was immersed in the world of Le Cirque des Rêves, I was wholly under Morgenstern's spell. I never wanted it to end. And though I've re-read The Night Circus a couple of times, that very first, magical experience can never be recaptured.
Book that you love reading out loud:
There's two tied for first: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I have read The One and Only Ivan to all of my children around the age of eight, and by the end of the book we were always in tears. It's such a sad, beautiful, life-affirming book that I think every child should read. And A Wrinkle in Time was for my slightly older kids. It's so exciting and filled with adventure, but a dark sense of foreboding ripples through every page. It's the perfect curl-up-by-the-fire autumn read.