If you were going to make an Elizabeth Gilbert book club and make the entire world read one book, which book would you choose and why?
Can I choose two books? (OF COURSE I CAN! IT’S A HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION!) For pleasure, I would encourage/force people to read Great Expectations, by Mr. Charles Dickens. Some people may have already read it, because they were forced to read it in school, but they didn’t realize how great it was, because they were only 15 years old. Read it again. It’s marvelous. For changing-the-world purposes, it would be nice if people read The Places That Scare You, by my favorite buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron. Because the world is a very tense and fear-based place, and we could all stand to chill out a bit, and this book helps.
When you walk into Barnes & Noble, what is the first thing you do? What is your favorite section?
I go straight to the NEW RELEASES tables. I like to see what my friends in the writing world are up to, and who has new books out. I also like to discover books and authors I haven’t yet heard of. It’s like a buffet counter of excellences over there.
Whose autobiography would you love to write?
Dick Cheney’s. As long as I had the final say on the content.
What do you hope people say about you after you leave a party?
Nobody will say anything when I leave the party, because I am always the last one to leave the party.
What book have you read the most?
I feel like I’ve read London Fields, by Martin Amis about ten times—but that can’t possibly be true, can it? Maybe only eight times?
What was your favorite book when you were 13?
This is difficult to recall. I could tell you what it was when I was 10 (The “OZ” books, by L. Frank Baum) and I can tell you want it was when I was 15 (The Sun Also Rises, which my dad encouraged me to read, and which introduced me to serious grown-up literature) but my reading habits in 8th grade are a total blank. This may be because I have deliberately erased all memories of 8th grade.
What book do you wish you could once again read for the first time?
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. Instead, I will just read it for the fourth time one of these days.
What’s the best snack for reading?
Popcorn. Not too heavily buttered, on account of: greasy fingers. (Also—does wine count as a snack? Of course it does. I’m changing my answer. The answer is: Wine.)