Personal Effects: Curtis Sittenfeld

The author of five novels—including Prep, Sisterland, and this spring’s Eligibletalks about the things on her can’t-live-without list. 

"I take it as a compliment that several people who know me well have told me I'm hard to buy presents for. (I'm not that into decor... or jewelry... or clothes. Don't I sound fun?) Once when I had a big birthday (21? 25?), my three siblings gave me an antique medicine dispenser, a slim glass jar with what I believe is a lapis lazuli lid that's oval-shaped, and a long, tiny spoon attached to the lid. I love how strange and distinct this item is, and I feel it surely contains an interesting backstory, though I don't know what the story is. After we'd been together about a year, my then-boyfriend, now-husband gave me a stuffed monkey that says "Meshuggeneh"—the Yiddish word for "crazy"—across the belly. It turns out the monkey is actually a dog toy, and while some women might be insulted if their boyfriend gave them a craziness-implying dog toy, I felt that it showed he understood my sense of humor very well. The most consistently indulgent expense in my life is the vast amount of money I spend at Whole Foods. Among the products I buy a lot are coconut yogurt, milk, and dessert bars (I love So Delicious brand) and GTs Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha (especially the ginger and cranberry flavors). So as not to imply I'm healthier than I really am, I also will confess to a deep fondness for Kettle Brands Krinkle Cut Sea Salt potato chips. They're especially tasty dipped in hummus. I recently did an event with another writer at which I wore my Dankso Thea shoes, which are like heeled clogs with straps. The other writer made a joke about how we'd both worn our comfy shoes, and I said, "Actually, these are my fancy shoes." But they're comfy, too, which is what I love about them. I also have embraced Not Your Daughter's Jeans, which feel cute yet appropriate for my 40-year-old suburban self. Another indulgence is that I allow myself to buy hardcover books instead of waiting for the paperback (I don't have a digital reader). Some of my recent favorites are the literary memoir My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead and the novels Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois, and Euphoria by Lily King. Next up, I want to read the novel Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue."


Meshugeneh dog toy, $9;
Dankso clogs, $130;
NYDJ flared denim, $107;

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead, $15;
Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois, $12;
Euphoria by Lily King, $25;
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, $28;

Find more Personal Effects from DEPARTURES editors and our favorite tastemakers »

Photo credit: Josephine Sittenfeld