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For an interview with Entertainment Weekly given late last year, the Emmy-winning drag superstar RuPaul opened up about a lifetime of eclectic literary influences. The host of RuPaul’s Drag Race and author of 2018’s GuRu – a tome of philosophies and witticisms collected from over three decades in drag – discussed his deep connection to Orwell’s Animal Farm, the life-changing philosophy of Eckhart Tolle, and his love for “trashy” Jackie Collins books.
Read on for a list of RuPaul’s book recommendations – and for a deeper dive into his personal journey to self-realization, check out his MasterClass on self-expression and authenticity.
“I read it early on and I got it early on. It’s…. still one of my favorite books. It shows how humans tend to forget the reason they wanted to do this life in the first place or why they had a revolution in the first place. [It’s] just as relevant today as it was when I read it as a 12-year-old. I never drank the Kool-Aid. I always looked for answers below the surface or hidden answers to life’s questions, so that book resonated, especially because it was a parable.” -R
“It’s life-changing and it helps you understand who you are and what you’re doing on this planet, and it also allows you to forgive other people, usually because other people are working out of their egos and fears. It gives you an opportunity to forgive.” -R
A Paper Life by Tatum O’Neal
“It’s the juiciest celebrity autobiography I’ve ever read. She holds nothing back!” -R
“[There’s] one line in it where she talks about meeting her third husband, [Dennis Edwards] of the Temptations. The first night they hooked up, she coyly [said]: ‘Dennis, would you mind if I took off my wig?’ And he said, ‘As long as you don’t mind if I take mine off too!’ [That quote is] one of my favorites.” -R
Respect by David Ritz
“David Ritz did a book with Aretha Franklin 20 years ago, and then two years ago he decided he’d take all of those notes and write the real book. It’s called Respect. It’s so good and so juicy. When you read it, obviously it was written before she died, but you realize it’s true, it’s not made-up stuff…. One of my favorites in recent years.” -R
My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
“It’s so candid, so real, and she really lets you have it.” -R
“I love James St. James’ Disco Bloodbath, [the book] Party Monster is based on. I’ve known him for about 300 years. He writes the same way he speaks. I know how his mind works, so it’s fun to peek in and hang with him and his sensibilities. His other one, [Freak Show], Trudie Styler made a movie of that book with Bette Midler! It’s about a teenage drag queen in high school.” -R
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
“I’m always interested in the untold stories of Hollywood. Usually you get to hear them from real estate agents, hairdressers, makeup people…. but you never really see them on screen or on television because Hollywood does not like movies or television shows about itself. But Jacqueline did.” -R
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
“That book and the character were on the verge of some great things happening, but he never quite got to the other side [because] all of that stuff was happening before the AIDS crisis. The book takes place before all of those things in the late ‘70s.” -R
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
“Lestat would be a great drag queen, a vampire drag queen! Especially since he’d become a rock star at one point. He’s fantastic!” -R
Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford
Lucky by Jackie Collins
I always look forward to his books. I’m reading Calypso and his diaries at the same time. I really enjoy those. He’s so smart and so clever, and the rhythm of his writing fits into my heart and into my own rhythm. He tickles me.
(via Entertainment Weekly)