The best books about both the darkness and beauty of ballet

Why am I passionate about this?

When my daughter was three years old, I enrolled her in a “creative movement” class. I had taken dance lessons for ten years when I was younger, so this felt like an obvious choice. At age eleven, her teacher suggested that she had the facility, talent, and drive to pursue a career in ballet. What followed was seven years of being a “ballet mom,” as she studied, performed, competed, and ultimately left home to pursue her career. The Still Point comes from this experience. It's a novel about dark ambition, but it's also a love letter: to my daughter, to ballet, and to the mothers who became my closest friends inside the ballet studio walls.


I wrote...

The Still Point

By Tammy Greenwood,

Book cover of The Still Point

What is my book about?

Set in the glamorous yet grueling world of pre-professional ballet students (and their mothers) as they compete for a prestigious prize, this fascinating novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of Keeping Lucy, Two Rivers, and Such a Pretty Girl combines lyrical writing with an addictively readable "suburban noir" plot, sure to delight fans of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere and Liane Moriarty’s Big, Little Lies.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of They're Going to Love You

T. Greenwood Why did I love this book?

This luminous novel, written by former professional Joffrey Ballet dancer, Meg Howrey, follows the life of a dancer, beginning in NYC’s West Village in the 1980s.

It is a beautifully written rumination on not only dance but ambition, family, and secrets as well. Meg and I met for the first time when my daughter had just started on her pre-professional path, and her writing about dance is unmatched.

By Meg Howrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They're Going to Love You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A luminous chronicle of betrayal, sacrifice and creative ambition' The Observer 'Lush and enjoyable... a glossy, fast-paced family drama' The Times 'My idea of a perfect book' Jami Attenberg 'By the book's close, readers will be clamouring for an extra curtain call' Guardian Once a year, ballet-obsessed Carlisle Martin spends a few precious weeks with her father Robert and his partner James at their enchanted apartment in Greenwich Village. Time spent with them is impossibly glamorous, filled with art, dance, beauty, books, and grown-ups who take her seriously as they battle the AIDs crisis and Then, one summer, a devastating…


Book cover of Girl Through Glass

T. Greenwood Why did I love this book?

Girl Through Glass offers readers entry into the magical and rarified world of an aspiring ballet dancer at the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet.

For readers who love a gritty New York setting, glimpses behind the beautiful façade that ballet offers, and dark secrets, this novel has it all. Fans of My Dark Vanessa will also appreciate the #metoo elements of this story.

By Sari Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girl Through Glass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

An Amazon Best Book of the Month 

A Buzzfeed Most Exciting Book of the Year

A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year & Bestseller

Selected as a Skimm Read 

A Refinery 29 Best Book of the Year

Chosen as a Rumpus Book Club Selection

Chosen as a Bustle Best Literary Debut Novel Written By Women in the Last 5 Years

An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and the…


Book cover of A Very Young Dancer

T. Greenwood Why did I love this book?

This book! I received this gorgeous black and white photobook as a gift when I was an aspiring dancer myself in the 1970s.

I was obsessed with the story of a young girl cast as Marie in the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker. The story is told primarily through Krementz’s photos of a young dancer’s life in New York City: ballet classes, auditions, rehearsals, backstage moments, and performances.

This book is one of the most magical and special books of my childhood – which appealed to me as a dancer back then but later heavily influenced my work as a photographer as an adult.

By Jill Krementz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Very Young Dancer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A ten-year-old student at the School of American Ballet in New York describes her classes and the preparation for and performance of her role in the ballet "The Nutcracker."


Book cover of The Ballerinas

T. Greenwood Why did I love this book?

This novel, besides having a gorgeous cover, offers a sneak peek through the window into the lives of professional dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet.

It follows three young women from their days as students into adulthood. The plot has many twists and turns, but it is primarily a novel about female relationships in the cutthroat world of professional ballet.

By Rachel Kapelke-Dale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ballerinas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thirteen years ago, Delphine Leger abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg -- taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now thirty-six years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career -- and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she's been away...and some secrets…


Book cover of Don't Think, Dear: On Loving and Leaving Ballet

T. Greenwood Why did I love this book?

Ballet has come under much scrutiny in the last decade: from the perpetuation of racial stereotypes to the abuse of power by directors to the promotion of damaging physical behaviors.

This non-fiction book by a former student at the School of American Ballet balances the problematic elements of ballet with the author’s love affair with it. Filled with both history and her own personal story, I found this book to be not only educational but also deeply moving.

It will resonate with not only dancers but anyone who has abandoned a childhood passion.

By Alice Robb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Think, Dear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Neither romanticizing or decrying the dance world, Robb beautifully explores the push-pull of masochism and perfectionism—preoccupations not just relevant to aspiring dancers, but to anyone who's ever pursued an almost-impossible dream." ?— Ada Calhoun, New York Times bestselling author of Why We Can't Sleep and Also a Poet

An incisive exploration of ballet’s role in the modern world, told through the experience of the author and her classmates at the most elite ballet school in the country: the School of American Ballet.

Growing up, Alice Robb dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. But by age fifteen, she had to face…


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The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

Book cover of The Woman at the Wheel

Penny Haw Author Of The Invincible Miss Cust

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Dog walker Dreamer Runner Reader

Penny's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cäcilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love—with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his plans, a dicey move since they alone believe in the machine. When Carl's partners threaten to withdraw their support, he's ready to cut ties. Bertha knows the decision would ruin everything. Ignoring the cynics, she takes matters into her own hands, secretly planning a scheme that will either hasten the family's passage to absolute derision or prove their genius. What Bertha doesn't know is that Carl is on the cusp of making a deal with their nemesis. She's not only risking her marriage and their life's work, but is also up against the patriarchy, Carl's own self-doubt, and the clock.

Like so many other women, Bertha lived largely in her husband's shadow, but her contributions are now celebrated in this inspiring story of perseverance, resilience, and love.

The Woman at the Wheel

By Penny Haw,

What is this book about?

Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, Cacilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love-with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his…


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