Categories: Books in General

Isabel Allende on Harry Potter, Dostoyevsky, and the Gift of Reading

From The Literary Hub:

What was the first book you fell in love with?
In my early childhood I lived in my grandfather’s somber house, where my mother found shelter with her three babies after her husband abandoned her. It was the 1940s, at the end of the Second World War, in Chile. We, children, were mildly neglected, as most children were at the time. No one read to us, our Mom was depressed and the nanny was illiterate. Early on an uncle taught me to read and for my fifth birthday gave me a book of Nordic fairy tales with gorgeous illustrations which I practically memorized. To this day I dream of snow princesses, ice castles and villains turned into bears.

Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
As a teenager the only books available in my grandfather’s library were the classics. At 17, I was reading mythology, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and many others. (I would discover Jane Austen much later.) I savored every page of War and Peace and managed to struggle through most of Dostoyevsky, but not Crime and Punishment: I have never been able to pass page 30.

What’s the book you reread the most?
I keep rereading Pablo Neruda’s poetry for inspiration and metaphors, also to recover the richness of my native Spanish language, which I tend to forget because I have lived in English for the last 30 years. I also reread Kathleen Norris, especially Cloister Walk, because it nourishes my soul. Secretly I envy the Benedictine way of life.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

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