Best known for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner award-winning novel Bel Canto, Ann Patchett has achieved both critical and commercial success for luminous novels that explore the clashing lives of disparate characters. In 2010, noting her hometown of Nashville’s lack of good booksellers, she co-founded Parnassus Books with partner Karen Hayes.

Sharing the books of her life in an interview with The Guardian, Patchett spoke on the eye-opening brilliance of Roxane Gay, enduring influence of John Updike, and the profundity that can be found in vintage dog portraits. Find her reading list below, and complement with the bookshelves of Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Doyle.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

“It’s about a brother and sister who catch fire whenever they’re anxious or upset. They don’t burn themselves up but they torch everything around them. It’s a brilliant commentary on what makes kids unlikable and how adults choose to deal with them.” -AP

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

“I only read it a year ago, but it made me completely rethink what literature for children is capable of and what it means to have a full, complex and deeply satisfying novel that can be read in two hours. I’ve since read all of DiCamillo’s work and believe she has no equal.” -AP

Old Filth by Jane Gardam

“It’s an extraordinary novel – the structure, the characters, the sweep of time.” -AP

Rabbit Series by John Updike

“As wildly unfashionable as they are, I learned more from reading the Rabbit Angstrom novels of John Updike than anything else. They embody four decades of the United States in writing so glittering and precise that it manages to overcome the consistently offensive views of the main character.” -AP

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

“I felt everyone sharpened their knives on that book. I thought it was brilliant.” -AP

Hunger by Roxane Gay (also rec’d by Emma Watson & Megan Rapinoe)

“It opened my eyes to how we are judgmental without realising it, and the burden that places on the recipient. It’s a great book, and a great reminder about all we don’t know about other people’s lives.” -AP

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat

“This story about her childhood in Haiti and her love for both her father and her uncle remains my favourite memoir.” -AP

Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

“My father used to say if he were a rich man he would have sent me to laughing school. I recently met Nina Stibbe and went back to listen to the audiobook of Love, Nina again, and again, I honked like a goose through the whole thing.” -AP

Dogs As I See Them by Lucy Dawson

“As a bookshop owner, I’m a great believer in bringing books to dinner parties. I give books for pretty much all occasions. I’m especially fond of Lucy Dawson’s Dogs As I See Them. She was a famous dog portraitist in England in the 1930s and 40s. If you look her up you’ll recognize her work. Her sketches are somehow profound in their simplicity, as are her brief descriptions of how many biscuits a particular dog required in order to hold still.” -AP

The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright (also rec’d by Kim Gordon)

“It was the favourite book of my older sister. Wright took black and white photographs of a doll who lives alone until a couple of bears come along and offer her a shot at family life. It is both creepy and haunting.” -AP

Our Town by Thornton Wilder (also rec’d by Tom Wolfe)

“It is my necessary text.” -AP

(via The Guardian)

Categories: Writers