Asked about her favorite book of all time, she said it was too hard a question, like being asked which is your favorite child.
Her favorite character when she was a child was Jo March in “Little Women.” Jo wanted to become a writer because she wasn’t pretty.. She sold her hair to send her mother to visit their father during the Civil War. “I even forgave her for not marrying Laurie,” Ms. Quindlen wrote.
ASKED ABOUT her memories of being read to as a child, the author recalled that her family had a friend who had so many books that she lined them up, library style, in her basement. She introduced Ms. Quindlen to “A Girl of the Limberlost,” “Anne of Green Gables” and the Betsy-Tacy series. I had never heard of this last series, which made me feel less well-read than I had thought.
Of the basement library, the author wrote, “I used to go down those steps as if I were entering the U.S. Mint.”
Also making me feel uninformed was her answer to the question about what was the best book she had ever received as a gift. “Heavy Metal and You” by Christopher Krovatin , unknown to me, was the reply.
ON THE MATTER of her favorite women writers today, Ms. Quindlen wrote: “There are some women writing terrific novels that pass as crime fiction but transcend the genre. I buy a new Denise Mina, Tana French or Kate Atkinson the moment it appears. Hilary Mantel is finally getting the genuflection she deserves. But there are some women whose backlists should be read by everyone. Mary Wesley should be much better known in the United States than she is.”
Again, I have to confess my ignorance.
THE BEST books she has ever read by women journalists was also humbling for me.
“It would be impossible to answer that question at thi moment without starting with Kate Boo’s ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers,’ which is flawless. When I was on book tour last year I talked about it more than my own book. Adrian Nicole’s LeBlanc’s ‘Random Family’ is one of the best books I’ve ever read about what it’s like to be poor in America. I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels. She was a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. She still has a reporter’s eye. Last year Julia Keller, who was at The Chicago Tribune, published a mystery set in West Virginia called ‘A Killing in the Hills.’ It made me want to read her next one.”
AS TO religion’s influence, Ms. Quindlen wrote in answer to a question about what book had the greatest impact on her: “Oh, such a Miss America answer: the Bible. I grew up a Catholic, and it’s hard to separate the New Testament from all my aspirations, inspiration and political positions. I’m liberal because of the Sermon on the Mount.”