Welcome to Shelf Life, ELLE.com’s books column, in which authors share their most memorable reads. Whether you’re on the hunt for a book to console you, move you profoundly, or make you laugh, consider a recommendation from the writers in our series, who, like you (since you’re here), love books. Perhaps one of their favorite titles will become one of yours, too.
After writing about other women in magazine cover profiles (Kamala Harris for ELLE, Stacey Abrams, and Missy Elliott), Ashley C. (for Cassandra) Ford takes on perhaps her most challenging subject: herself. Her memoir, Somebody’s Daughter (An Oprah Book/Flatiron) out this week, is about growing up with an incarcerated father and a complicated relationship with her mother. She described the process of writing it as “crying at her computer.”
You may be familiar with her voice—she’s hosted podcasts, including Lovecraft Country Radio, among others—or know her by word (check out her Five Things essays) or deed (like when her tweets helped raise six-figure sums for a Ferguson, Missouri library and to cancel school lunch debt nationwide). You might have seen her modeling skivvies on a billboard or reciting Pablo Neruda poems on IG Live at the beginning of the pandemic.
The Indianapolis-based Ford, who lives with her writer husband and their chocolate Lab Astro Renegade, is a Capricorn, was the captain of color guard in high school, and played bass drum in marching band. She can put nanny and Americorps on her resume, and learned to shoot a crossbow. Likes: Kenny Loggins, horror movies (but her favorite holiday movie is A Diva’s Christmas Carol with Vanessa Williams), cassette tapes, pointillist painter Jerry Wilkerson, Krispy Kremes when the Hot Light comes on. Dislikes: Large groups, red velvet, camping. She usually picks a word for the new year, but for 2021, she picked a color—blue—because she felt it. She feels these books, too.
The book that:
…helped me through a loss:
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.