Welcome to Shelf Life, ELLE.com’s column of books, where 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 Love Books, Like You (Since You’re Here). Perhaps one of their favorite nicknames will become one of yours too.
Angie Cruz was studying to become a fashion designer at FIT and working in a cashmere shop on Madison Avenue when she switched to English literature, eventually earning her MFA from New York University. (Edwig Danticat was her coach.) She just released her fourth novel, How not to drown in a glass of water (Flatiron Books), namely a job Running in Google Docs on her phone on the go. Her last book 2019 DominicanShe was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Literature, whose writing took a decade and four years to sell, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Award for Excellence in Fiction, and the inaugural selection for the GMA Book Club.
Born and raised in Washington Heights, New York, Cruz is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Literature and Arts magazine. Aster (ninth)associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, and founder of @dominicanasnyc on Instagram, a digital archive featuring the Dominicans in New York.
Cruz was a visual arts major at LaGuardia High School, trained as a photo archive assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, It is considered Get a PhD in History, taught in Texas and Chile he did something creative to help her write (drawing, cooking, taking singing lessons on YouTube), Collecting wooden and ceramic dolls from her travels; She presented at Brooklyn Community College, where she was her single mother (who inspired DominicanHe studied accounting by night and worked in a lamp factory by day to raise two children.
Likes: New York City subwayDo research, take photos, rain, tequila and dark chocolate. What she Dislikes: Camping.
The book that:
…help me through the separation:
abandoned me By Melissa Phebus Help Me Breathe When I Was Filled With Pain, Feeling So Much Despair. She writes beautifully and honestly about a long-distance love affair and all the ways she has lost herself in it. I finished the book and read it again. It was medicine.
… made me miss a train station:
why did not you tell me? by Carmen Rita Wong. She’s a great storyteller, and I immediately found myself invested in family drama. It’s an important story that explores how I grew up in China and be Afro-Latino, which complicates the ways we think about identity.
… I recommend over and over again:
I find myself recommend Basquiat’s widow Written by Jennifer Clement all the time. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who loves Basquiat, and also for anyone interested in mixed memoirs and great literature. I also recommend her novel Prayer for the stolenEspecially for students because of the economy in their sentences.
… currently sitting at my desk:
Sleeping Alone: Stories by Roe Freeman & Memoirs fish sound by Lars Horn. I am so excited to get to this.
… made me laugh out loud:
One night I read when we make it by Elizabeth Velasquez to my niece around the kitchen table and we laughed so hard because Sarah’s story grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn was painfully familiar. What do people say? rer paragraph not llorar?
… I would like to switch to a Netflix show:
Dealing in dreams Written by Liliam Rivera will make a dystopian Netflix series about Las Mal Criadas, a girl crew who has to figure out how to survive on the streets of a mega-city.
… I bought last time:
Neruda on the Park By Cleyvis Natera and woman of light by Callie Fajardo Anstine. Both are about strong women in impossible situations and taking matters into their own hands.
… has the best title and … has the best opening line…:
I like this title: The man who can move the clouds, Diary Written by Ingrid Rojas Contreras.
And the first line: “They say the accident that gave me temporary amnesia is hereditary. No house, plot, or letter box, just a few weeks of oblivion.”
…has the greatest ending:
From infinite country By Patricia Engel: “When the cumbia appeared, he asked our mother to dance, and we watched our parents sway, find each other’s rhythm as if they had never wavered, as if the past fifteen years had been just a dance that interrupted waiting for the next song to play. I wondered about the Breakup Matrix. And the turmoil, that our years were tied to the illusory pain of a lost homeland, for now together again the pain and the sense that something is missing is gone. And perhaps there is no nation or citizenship. They are just designated areas instead of family, instead of love, the infinite country.”
…features the coolest book jacket:
Chinilo Okparanta Harry Sylvester Bird.
…has a sex scene that makes you blush:
Cantoras Written by Carolina D. Roberts, hedonistic and sensual centered around five gay Uruguayan women who find refuge in the intimate relationships of their relationships while living under an oppressive dictatorship.
… He made me weep uncontrollably:
I read Giovanni’s room Written by James Baldwin while residing at the La Napoule Art Foundation in southern France. I read the last 30 pages out loud on the sea and cried and cried.
… It should be in every university curriculum:
My broken language By Quiara Alegría Hudes is a great storyteller. Hudes’ emergence from playing music to stage to writing these memoirs is a source of inspiration and benefit for anyone still trying to figure out their life. It is proof that in one life a lot can happen.
…I consider literary comfort food:
Strange Woman and the City: A Memoir by Vivian Gornick. I often carry this book because when I read it I want to write it. I love the way you tell a story and also how you write about New York.
… seal of friendship:
Professor’s daughter by Emily Raboteau. I had a hard time with the way it was written and asked her to tell her how much I loved it. We’ve been good friends ever since. I can’t wait for her new book, survival lessons Coming out in 2023 about the climate emergency and motherhood.
…which holds the recipe for a favorite dish:
loves you By Sarah Gambetto is a book of poems that also teaches us something about cooking, eating, and being in the community. While reading it I came across one of my favorite dishes: chicken adobo. over here a poem Via Gambito to read, cook and then eat.
Risa Cruz is a New York-based editor and writer.