5 books recommended by Ballerina Book Club host Isabella Boylston

5 books recommended by Ballerina Book Club host Isabella Boylston

Isabella Boylston, Ballerina Book Club host and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, shares insights into her five favorite books

‘My Brilliant Friend,’ by Elena Ferrante 

This is an amazing story of friendship between two women, set in a violent and patriarchal mid-century Naples. I felt like Ferrante was probing unexplored areas of my psyche in this incredible series — almost like she could see into my thoughts. I’ve never read anything else like it, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished all four books in the Neapolitan quartet.

‘The Name of the Wind,’ by Patrick Rothfuss

This book is just beautiful! I love Rothfuss’ prose and felt such a deep emotional connection to the hero, Kvothe, who is both artist and magician. I can’t wait for book three in the trilogy to come out so I can read the whole series again.

‘The Fifth Season’ (‘The Broken Earth’ trilogy), by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin’s voice is unlike any other author I’ve read. The “Broken Earth” trilogy tells the amazing story of an oppressed people with special magical abilities. Set on a hostile earth, Jemisin’s first entry into the series is led by a powerful, free-spirited female protagonist and is also the story of a mother and daughter.

‘Spinning Silver,’ by Naomi Novik 

“Spinning Silver” is a perfect fantasy book. This is a gorgeously crafted story about two young women who do not know each other but whose lives become entangled as they help each other survive. One of the protagonists in the novel is Jewish, and I found it interesting how Novik dealt with real-life anti-semitism in a quasi-medieval fantasy setting.

‘Just Kids,’ by Patti Smith

My favorite New York story. It made me nostalgic for a time in the city before I was born; her writing made me feel like I was there. It perfectly captures the experience of young people, full of hopes and dreams, coming to this city to make their way. It’s a beautiful tribute to her best friend and lover, Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti is one of my heroes.

For supplementary reading, this essay she wrote for The New Yorker about performing at the Nobel Prize Ceremony will make you laugh and cry. A must-read.


Be sure to check out Ballerina Book Club, hosted by Boylston, for monthly book picks, interviews and other exclusives. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on all book club matters!

Top Image: Isabella Boylston. Photo: Connor Holloway.