To celebrate the paperback publication of her triumphant return to fiction, The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert, author or Eat, Pray, Love, talked to us about the books she loves, her literary blind spots, and the works that have shaped her as a writer and as a person.
My favorite childhood books
The Wizard of Oz series. Those stories are such a wild and unpredictable protofeminist mythological fever dream. What’s not to love? Also, as a restless farm girl myself, I identified, big-time.
The book I enjoyed most in school
In third grade, a thoughtful teacher introduced us to The Phantom Tollbooth. I think school reading pretty much peaked right there.
A book I read in secret
I am a child of the 1970s, so my secret reading was—and could only ever have been—that thrillingly wicked mixed classic cocktail of Forever and Flowers in the Attic.
The book that cemented me as a writer
I love that you think I’m cemented as a writer.
The books I’ve read over and over
The only things I can go back to forever and ever, without tiring, are certain poems. Walt Whitman will always be there. Also, Sharon Olds, Jack Gilbert, Seamus Heaney, Hafiz, Tennyson, good old Mary Oliver. I suppose this is because reading poetry is like listening to music, and you never get tired of your favorite songs.
A classic I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read
God help me, but it’s Ulysses. I’ve tried a dozen times, but I’ve never gotten past the opening pages. I feel like I’m being punk’d whenever I try to read post-Dubliners James Joyce. I always want to look up from the book and ask everyone in the world, “Seriously?! You guys are seriously following this?” READ FULL STORY