Favourite books of Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett

Veronica Guerin was an Irish journalist who, in the early 1990s, wrote about drug dealers and major drug importers in Dublin. She railed against the ineffectual nature of the Irish legal system — how the government couldn't get these guys, who were blatantly guilty and walking into pubs and shooting people. Guerin had a sense of moral outrage, but also I think she loved to be at the center of life, doing something to make a difference. The great tragedy was that none of the laws changed during her lifetime. She had been threatened and beaten up for her writings and was killed in 1996. As a result of her death, there was a lot of marching, Concerned Parents Against Drugs became an important force, and changes finally occurred. What stuck me about Veronica Guerin was that she believed in the power and necessity of writing. I've tried to read popular books — the ones people are all abuzz about — and I can't help but think, "Oh, it's like fashion, where you feel this will be gone in a week." The other thing with a lot of books out now is that they're begging to be turned into films; they're being written with a cinematic eye, and I find it hard to spend time with something that's a bit cynically conceived. The books and the play I've picked feel to me as if they had to be written. They are intimate books, full of issues and characters that need to be heard.
Cate Blanchett, about reading

Catherine "Cate" Blanchett is an Australian actress of screen and stage. She has received critical acclaim and many accolades, including two Academy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and three BAFTA Awards. She was appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012. In 2014, she was presented with a Doctor of Letters from Macquarie University in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the arts, philanthropy and the community, her third honorary degree from major Australian institutions.

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Favorite books of Cate Blanchet:

I read this in drama school. It's an analysis from a psychologist's perspective of the meaning and power of fairy tales. One example that sticks in my mind is the metaphor of a child going into the forest. Bettelheim makes the point that the structure of this story parallels children's experiences in life — how you can be frightened but eventually make it through to the other side. One can feel expendable — particularly in this day and age, and especially working in film — and for me, this reinforces the power of storytelling and the necessity of it.

The famous child psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim, explains how fairy tales educate, support, and liberate the emotions of children.

Carey is one of my favorite writers. The first book of his I ever read was a collection of short stories called The Fat Man In History. He also wrote Oscar And Lucinda — a beautiful story — which was turned into a film that I made. In Kelly Gang, the narrative voice is so unique. We Australians all know that outlaw Ned Kelly was hung after the famous shoot-out in 1880. But what Carey does is get inside his character's mind in such an illuminating and heartrending way. And there's not a trace of sentimentality in it. I so admire that as an actor, because I realize how difficult it is to do.

I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false." In True History of the Kelly Gang," " the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist."

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Cate Blanchett recommends Tender Is The Night

This novel was handed to me on a silver platter by my husband, who said, "You cannot die without reading this." I keep coming back to it because it's so detailed in recording the inner life of Dick Diver, the central character. His yearning — to save his mentally unstable wife, Nicole — just keeps unfolding. That aching is quite destructive but also so understandable. The word I think of with this story is "fragile." I was utterly struck by the fineness of Fitzgerald's writing and the timelessness of Dick and Nicole's failures.

Also recommended by: Julianne Moore

Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick's harrowing demise. A profound study of the romantic concept of character, Tender Is the Night is lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative.

Voss by Patrick White

Cate Blanchett recommends Voss

Nobel Prize-winner Patrick White is one of Australia's great novelists and playwrights. This story is about Voss, a German explorer, and Laura, a young Sydney woman, who meet very awkwardly in a drawing room one hot afternoon. Voss embarks on a trek across Australia and writes her a series of letters, most of which never reach her; at the same time she writes letters he doesn't receive. It turns out that the act of expressing their true selves in the small, shut-down environment of colonial Australia allows them to fall in love. As a reader, you are in the most intimate position — privy to each one's thoughts. Voss's quest takes him through the center of Australia, which no white man has ever conquered and from which he won't return. But along this fruitless journey, he becomes more self-aware and more involved with this woman he will never meet again. It's horrible and tragic and unforgettable.

Set in nineteenth-century Australia, Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent, and as hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases. Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.

Oleanna by David Mamet

Cate Blanchett recommends Oleanna

This play represented such a turning point for me as an actor. I'd just come out of drama school and I was playing opposite Geoffrey Rush. I had to leave my own baggage at the door and take on this character who would be understood by some and hated by others. Mamet has taken all the extraneous stuff away and left you with just this searing, polemic essential battle to the death. Geoffrey and I keep saying Oleanna is an inkblot test, because your reaction to it reveals to you your own sense of politics. It's so provocative — afterward, people were shouting at one another passionately. To see that happen in the theater lobby, which can be such a bourgeois, polite space, I just knew this is what I should be doing with my life.

In David Mamet’s latest play, a male college instructor and his female student sit down to discuss her grades and in a terrifyingly short time become the participants in a modern reprise of the Inquisition. Innocuous remarks suddenly turn damning. Socratic dialogue gives way to heated assault. And the relationship between a somewhat fatuous teacher and his seemingly hapless pupil turns into a fiendishly accurate X ray of the mechanisms of power, censorship, and abuse.

I've been dipping in and out of this book since my early 20s. I completely respond to one of its basic notions — self-responsibility. It's about preparing for a good death, and I've found that in having a child, you're confronted by your mortality each day as the child grows and blossoms. But every single element in our Western society is a denial of death. We don't want to think about it, which compounds the terror we feel about it. This book helps one to navigate one's way through the terror.

A newly revised and updated edition of the internationally bestselling spiritual classic, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, is the ultimate introduction to Tibetan Buddhist wisdom. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of [Dante’s] The Divine Comedy,” this is the essential work that moved Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions, to proclaim, “I have encountered no book on the interplay of life and death that is more comprehensive, practical, and wise.”

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