Between your book club and your production company, you’re an influential recommender of books. But where do you turn for recommendations? How do you decide what to read?
I know it’s an obvious choice, but I like Goodreads.com. And in real life, I have a small army of friends whose recommendations I seek out and trust, led by two book-loving friends I’ve known since I was in high school. Also, my physical therapist reads more than anyone I know and has impeccable taste, so I always ask for book suggestions from her.
What’s the last book that made you laugh?
“Calypso,” by David Sedaris.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
I read everything as a kid. Summers were hot in Nashville, so I’d spend a lot of time reading on the screened-in porch to escape the heat. One that really stuck with me, besides “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is “The Secret History,” by Donna Tartt. Even as a beginning reader, I’d get very wrapped up in stories, from the Sweet Valley High books to Ellen Raskin’s “The Westing Game.” I read every last one of the Lois Duncan young adult horror books; my favorite was “Stranger With My Face.”
What book has had the greatest impact on you?
“The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours,” is a moving and inspiring book by Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. She has some really good rules for life, like: “Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night.” I read it my freshman year at Stanford, and it is still my favorite book to give to high school graduates. The book makes you see how important service is and it makes you believe you can make a difference in this world. I think hope is imperative right now.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
This is something I think about often! I love throwing dinner parties. For a literary night, I’d invite Cheryl Strayed, Julia Reed, Lorrie Moore, Ann Patchett, Jon Meacham, Joan Didion, Maile Meloy, Nick Hornby, A. Scott Berg, Zadie Smith and Celeste Ng. I know you said three, but, to me, three is not much of a party.