One of New Year resolutions is to read more, watch less TV. I’ve just completed my first book of the New Year, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, a book loaned to me by my friend Meghan. It was a wonderful read and full of symbolism (that’s the English major coming out in me coming out, sorry). I just received an email from Gwyneth Paltrow with her book suggestions (very appropriate considering my resolution) so I though I would share her thoughts with you:
I feel a bit swallowed up in January, the days are so short, the sky is so close and gray. The best way to escape (not to mention the least expensive, most hassle-free way) is to curl up by the fire with an amazing, transportive novel. This week I have asked a couple of my best and most literary-minded girlfriends to share their top picks. These are the women who read voraciously and with passion. No TV for them before bed (I need a little something, even 10 minutes of “The X Factor” or a forensic pathology documentary, just something, for Lord’s sake!). I always like knowing the literary preferences of people. I think it gives a better understanding of their inner life. I have also included some of the books that have affected me the most.
I was doing a film with Ethan Hawke in 1995 and feeling a bit in shock about what was happening with my life. I hadn’t found grace yet with the big changes that were afoot. Ethan correctly intuited that I needed some perspective, some grounding, a sort of literary bringing down to size. He gave me a few of his favorite novels and this masterpiece was one of them. It completely swept me up. It is, in essence, about what happens when one changes landscapes, physical or metaphorical, without intellectual and emotional openness. It also teaches that the unfamiliar must be approached with humility and respect, slowly and without force. It very much set me straight at a very pivotal moment in my life.
(Abby Kane is one of my best childhood friends who is a mother of two and lives in Georgia)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is the first line of the novel. Tolstoy’s incredible mind amazes me. Overwhelmingly beautiful and tragic, this is an epic novel. If you persevere through the arduous length, you will be in for a treat. Full of timeless romance and tragedy!!
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez truly transports you with his descriptions and characters. You feel like you are with these incredibly unique and spicy characters (Latin, of course) in this coastal Colombian town. It’s a beautiful and moving love story, which was a much easier read for me than another of Márquez’s books, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I love this book because of the incredible female protagonist, who is a brave and beautiful romantic. She overcomes adversity and is finally redeemed. The book is written in an African-American vernacular and exudes an intense depth of emotion. The side story about the author, Zora Neale Hurston, is amazing as well. She only got the recognition she deserved posthumously; she died working as a domestic with no money to her name.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
I just finished this book, which was absolutely incredible. I loved it and was so splendidly depressed when it ended, that I started reading it again.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
My mom is reading this book right now, which reminded me of how provocative and exciting it is. One of my favorites, The Life of Pi is a fantastic discussion igniter about religion and other important stuff.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
This book was published 10 years after the death of its author. He never got recognition while he was alive, which is very sad. The main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, is a misfit genius who lives in New Orleans and is trying to survive.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I have read most of Barbara Kingsolver’s books and have enjoyed them. I love this heart-wrenching story about a family who goes to Africa on a mission and how they try to survive in another culture.