Nichole Bernier has written for magazines including Elle, Self, Health, Men's Journal and Conde Nast Traveler, where she was a features writer, golf and ski editor, television spokesperson and contributing editor. She is one of the founders of the literary blog Beyond the Margins, and lives outside of Boston with her husband and five children. Bernier's debut novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D (Crown, June 5, 2012), tells the story of two women--their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears.
On your nightstand now:
My nightstand pile is a towering and precarious place and if it falls it will hurt my children and pets. These days (eyeing the stack like a dangerous animal) it includes: Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer, Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I loved Watership Down by Richard Adams. Even today, I'm unable to see the rabbits in our yard as anything less than a fully evolved society carrying out their dramas underground.
Your top five authors:
I have to restrict this to writers who are not my contemporaries, because there are far too many beautiful and brilliant authors I learn from constantly. Wallace Stegner, Marilynne Robinson, Geraldine Brooks, Ian McEwan and Ann Patchett.
Book you've faked reading:
I don't think I've ever faked reading a book. I'm too chicken I'll get caught not knowing what I'm talking about. But I've nodded and smiled knowingly about many books and let the person I'm talking to draw their own conclusions about whether I've read it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. It's the story of two couples, their lifelong marriages and friendship, which takes a clear-eyed look at how our strengths and foibles become more forgiving and more brittle over the decades. It's brilliant.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Not really for the cover, but for the cover plus review, which I rarely ever do these days when book isn't also recommended by friends--it was The Silent Land by Graham Joyce. The premise was irresistible, a couple trapped in a sort of limbo at a European ski resort after an avalanche, and the eerie cover with a silhouette of birds and a frozen chairlift was like a whisper that something ghostly lived inside. In this case, you could judge a book by its cover.
Book that changed your life:
It's not a whole book, but a marvelous piece of one--John McPhee's fantastic, transporting essay "Travels in Georgia," which manages to make a portrait of a rural roadkill collector hilarious and poignant. I read it in journalism school, and realized that journalism could be many things, didn't have to be straight news and magazine articles. After graduation I went to work at Conde Nast Traveler magazine writing columns and sports-travel narratives.
Favorite line from a book:
Ann Lamott, on the perfectionism of fellow PTA moms: "I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Day for Night by Frederick Reiken. Just so I can go back and piece it together since it's already blown my mind.