The Magical Space of Storytelling: Gift-Giving Book Recommendations from Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende has long dazzled us with her stories  epic tales that seamlessly weave history and memory with the occasional dash of magical realismThis year, the bestselling and long celebrated author of The House of the Spirits returned, to the delight of many, with a richly imagined historical novel of hope, exile and belonging in A Long Petal of the SeaSo, we’re simply in awe to have Isabel Allende here with us to discuss what she’ll be gifting this holiday season and why stories — more so now than ever — really are the perfect retreat.

The things that we want most in life — a sense of purpose, happiness and hope — are most easily attained by giving them to others. Give, give and give — what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if we don’t share it? We don’t take anything material when we leave this planet, at least I don’t plan to! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the Divine. It is in giving that I feel the spirit of my daughter inside me, like a soft presence. Honoring her legacy led me to start The Isabel Allende Foundation with the intention to help others and mend my broken heart. It was her understanding of the universal truth and power of being generous that today propels my life.

I love choosing gifts for the people I want to thank for being in my life. It’s a way of feeling connected, especially now, when it’s hard to get together. I think about them and what they would like to receive. I like to gift books because that’s what I want to receive. A good story accompanies, entertains and informs us; it might widen our horizon or give us another perspective; most of all, it connects us to the author, the characters and other readers. I like to imagine that even though this year we won’t be able to share our holidays with our loved ones, by giving them a book we will be sharing a smile, a moment of ease and joy. I like to believe that we are all one in the magical space of storytelling.

Some of the books I will be gifting this season are:

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Autumn Light by Pico Iyer

Where the Light Enters by Jill Biden


This holiday, The Isabel Allende Foundation is donating to SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective which provides reproductive health services for women in need.
For more information, visit their website at 

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