Favourite books of Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

A few years ago, a friend gave me a copy of Michael Cunningham's The Hours for my birthday. I hadn't read anything about it, so it was the most exquisite surprise. The writing is gorgeous. These characters are in incredible pain, and the book evokes the difficulty we all have in making decisions about our lives—decisions to be a mother, to be a wife, to be a friend. As isolated as each of these women feels, you eventually learn that their lives are woven tightly together — as are all of our lives, you realize. When I finished the novel, I thought, 'Wow, somebody will try to make this into a movie, but I can't imagine they'll be able to.' A year or two later, I got a phone call and was offered the part of Laura, the character, coincidentally, that I had responded to the most. I was so moved by the way her little boy, Richie, knows his mother and so visibly worries about her, partly because I have a little boy. Children pick up everything from you. When you see your child doing all right, you think, 'Oh, thank God — everything's okay.' Because you know if it weren't, you'd see it all over him. That was what I found so remarkable about their relationship — that even though she struggled to keep her unhappiness from him, her 3-year-old son felt every single thing she was feeling. I've always been intrigued by those kinds of struggles. I seem to have a propensity toward tragedy in fiction and nonfiction. I don't think that's a bad thing, necessarily. What I love most about the books I've chosen is that they reveal how incredibly difficult life is — it's not perfect, it's not rosy — and how what we struggle with is often the best part.
Julienn Moore, about reading

Movie star and best-selling children's book author - Julianne Moore is an American actress and children's author. Prolific in cinema since the early 1990s, Moore is particularly known for her portrayals of emotionally troubled women. Her career has involved both art house and Hollywood films, and she has received four Academy Award nominations.

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Favorite books of Juliane Moore:

This is Eisenberg's first collection of stories — and many of them hinge on how our perception of the world can be irrevocably changed. In the title story, a character answers the phone, and as she talks to the caller, a former lover, she glances toward the man she's having a drink with: "He seemed like a scrap of paper, or the handle from a broken cup, or a single rubber band — a thing that has become dislodged from its rightful place." I so responded to this wonderful notion that you can lose yourself in one moment, and afterward see everything in a totally different way.

Seven remarkable stories, four of which have appeared in The New Yorker, ranging in setting from an elegant East Side apartment to a YMCA locker room.

My favorite essay in this collection is "Goodbye To All That." One quote has always resonated with me: "I was late to meet someone, but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out of the West and reached the mirage." As a child, I lived all over the world — we moved a million zillion times — and I never felt completely happy until I was in New York City. Like Didion, I felt that I'd reached the mirage; I'd found a place where anything could happen. And she talks about that: "I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month."

The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

Raveling by Peter Moore Smith

Julianne Moore recommends Raveling

My brother wrote this book — I had to put it on my list. It's a thriller, but it's also about the disintegration of a family and the ways in which our desire to protect one another can be destructive. I always thought writers were the bravest people, because they seemed to reveal so much of themselves in their work. My brother gave me an understanding of the process. He can take his experience and turn it 190 degrees, and it becomes something else, which is what I do with acting. He's made the art of writing not as foreign to me. I'm still so impressed by people who can create certain feelings on a page, but it was a revelation to see that what my brother and I do is, in a way, not so different.

"Things fall apart, the center cannot hold." Yeats's words seem fitting for the slowly disintegrating Airie family and their son Pilot, a schizophrenic. Twenty years ago, Pilot's little sister, Fiona, disappeared. In the aftermath, the Airie family fell apart--"unraveled," Pilot observes. Old sins have long shadows, and Pilot both welcomes and fears the darkness those shadows offer. His memories of Fiona's disappearance haunt him, but they are also an anchor to a past that seems more authentic than the present.

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Julianne Moore recommends Tender Is The Night

The romance in this novel is so distinct, so interesting, and so surprising because it's so flawed. The couple — Dick and Nicole Diver — are gorgeous. You believe they're perfect, and then you find out that, in fact, they are deeply troubled — she especially. Dick rescues Nicole for a time, but he can't save her; she's too unstable. So they don't make it — they can't. It's an exquisite and unbearable love story.

Also recommended by: Cate Blanchett

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.

Our Bodies, Ourselves by The Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Judy Norsigian

Julianne Moore recommends Our Bodies, Ourselves

I've had a copy of this book since I was 18 years old. I used it when I was hoping that I wasn't pregnant, when I was hoping that I was, during my pregnancies, after my pregnancies, whenever I was sick. Two weeks ago, I was in bed with this horrible fever; I thought, "This is the flu." But on Monday, when I still had this ridiculous fever, I opened the book and realized I had an infection from nursing. It's a little crunchy in tone, but it's the best women's health reference book I've ever seen.

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health - With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for information about every aspect of their well-being. Completely revised for the first time in a decade, these pages give women everything they need for making key decisions about their health -- from definitive information from today's leading experts to personal stories from other women just like them. This updated edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" includes the latest on: - Nutrition and exercise - Relationships, sexuality, and sexual health - Complementary health practices - Reproductive choices, pregnancy, and childbearing - Growing older - Medical testing and procedures Together with its companion website (www.ourbodiesourselves.org), "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is a one-stop resource for women of all generations. Plus: The rearranged food pyramid, a chapter about sexual orientation and gender identity, advice for making safer sex more fun, the latest on breast-feeding, support for women experiencing pregnancy loss, and a section devoted to getting the best care in today's complicated health care system.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Julianne Moore recommends Beloved

I read Beloved when it came out in 1987, and it was one of the most difficult books I've ever encountered. The rhythm of the writing, the cadence — it was like learning a new language where you're just banging your head against a wall. Then, after several chapters, a door opens and you're in. To me, the book is all emotion, a big morass of feeling. It's remarkable. What this woman goes through, what she believes she has to do is so horrific — you can't help but think, "How does she survive?"

Beloved is a 1987 novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War (1861–1865), it is inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery during 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. A posse arrived to retrieve her and her children under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Julianne Moore recommends Little Women

My mother gave me “Little Women,” telling me that she thought I was ready for it. I can’t count the number of times I read it between the ages of 10 and 15 – I used the book like a set of worry beads. It soothed and enchanted me, and it was only much later, as an adult, that I realized that Louisa May Alcott (and my mother) had given me a road map of the journey from childhood to adulthood. It is, obviously, a highly moral book, but to me it felt as if its precepts were based on a personal (rather than a Christian) morality. In the world of “Little Women,” the girls all learned what their responsibility was toward one another, themselves and the world at large – the choice was up to them. They could choose to be headstrong (Jo), unengaged (Meg), shy (Beth) or selfish (Amy). But through their thoroughly engaging adventures they learned to be productive and ambitious ( Jo), loving and domestic (Meg), musical and devoted (Beth) and artistic and philanthropic (Amy). I learned that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and that you could come from anywhere to achieve [it].

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Julianne Moore recommends A Wrinkle in Time

I also loved Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” My introduction to it was by my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Jeness, who read it aloud to us in class, a chapter at a time. Each day I could hardly wait for him to begin reading. I very closely identified with the heroine, Meg Murry, a girl who felt extremely disenfranchised in her world. She was physically awkward – skinny, with glasses and braces and crazy hair – felt socially inept, and was close only to her very brilliant, but very strange baby brother, Charles Wallace. Their father, a scientist, has been missing for some time – and one night the crazy ladies next door (witches, presumably – science fiction witches) prevail upon the children, and their friend, Calvin to “tesseract” through time and space to rescue Meg’s father. When they reach the planet where their father is held captive, they discover that it is a place where there is no free will, and beings are governed by a tyrannical “IT” a pulsing, logical brain that insists on conformity. Meg triumphs at the end, by using her illogical self – her passion for language, her emotional heart, and her tremendous love for her family. She saves them using only her awkward, non-conforming self as a weapon.

Also recommended by: Sheryl Sandberg

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by American writer Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962. The story revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract. The book won a Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. It is the first in L'Engle's series of books about the Murry and O'Keefe families.

Brundibar by Tony Kushner, Maurice Sendak

Julianne Moore recommends Brundibar

My favorite children’s book is: The one I read to my children obsessively is Tony Kushner/Maurice Sendak’s Brundibar - I find it endlessly inspiring.

When Aninku and Pepicek discover one morning that their mother is sick, they rush to town for milk to make her better. Their attempt to earn money by singing is thwarted by a bullying, bellowing hurdy-gurdy grinder, Brundibar, who tyrannizes the town square and chases all other street musicians away. Befriended by three intelligent talking animals and three hundred helpful schoolkids, brother and sister sing for the money to buy the milk, defeat the bully, and triumphantly return home. Brundibar is based on a Czech opera for children that was performed fifty-five times by the children of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp.

Folly: A Novel by Susan Minot

Julianne Moore recommends Folly: A Novel

I am currently reading: I just finished Susan Minot’s Folly, now reading Zadie Smith’s NW. On deck, Grace Coddington’s Grace: A Memoir. I really like reading books about women by women.

The author of the national bestseller Monkeys has written a new novel that will appeal to fans of The Age of Innocence. Set in 1917 New England, it is the story of a conventional girl with unconventional stirrings, in a world where the choosing of a husband determines a woman's life.

NW by Zadie Smith

Julianne Moore recommends NW

I am currently reading: I just finished Susan Minot’s Folly, now reading Zadie Smith’s NW. On deck, Grace Coddington’s Grace: A Memoir. I really like reading books about women by women.

NW is a 2012 novel by British author Zadie Smith. It takes its title from the NW postcode area in North-West London, the setting of the novel. The novel is experimental and follows four different characters living in London, shifting between first and third person, stream-of-consciousness, screenplay-style dialogue and other narrative techniques in an attempt to reflect the polyphonic nature of contemporary urban life. It was nominated for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction.

Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington

Julianne Moore recommends Grace: A Memoir

I am currently reading: I just finished Susan Minot’s Folly, now reading Zadie Smith’s NW. On deck, Grace Coddington’s Grace: A Memoir. I really like reading books about women by women.

Beautiful. Willful. Charming. Blunt. Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. Known through much of her career only to those behind the scenes, she might have remained fashion’s best-kept secret were it not for The September Issue, the acclaimed 2009 documentary that turned publicity-averse Grace into a sudden, reluctant celebrity. Grace’s palpable engagement with her work brought a rare insight into the passion that produces many of the magazine’s most memorable shoots.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

Julianne Moore recommends The Leftovers

This convinced me that grief gets easier - In The Leftovers, Tom Perrotta takes an absurd premise—the Rapture has actually occurred—and turns it into a meditation on loss and love. For me, the most difficult thing about getting older has been the loss of my loved ones, particularly my mother. Perrotta explores exactly that: How do we continue to live in a world where the possibility of loss lurks around every corner? I remember sitting on my porch last summer and bursting into tears at the end, not because it's sad but because it's so hopeful.

Author Tom Perrotta is a master at exposing the quiet desperation behind America’s suburban sheen. In The Leftovers he explores what would happen if The Rapture actually took place and millions of people just disappeared from the earth. How would normal people respond? Perrotta’s characters show a variety of coping techniques, including indifference, avoidance, depression, freaking out, and the joining of cults. Despite the exceptional circumstances, it’s really not unlike how people respond to more minor incidents in their lives (excepting cults). The result is a novel that’s a slow burn yet strangely compelling, one that leaves the reader pondering the story long after it’s over. In vivid and occasionally satiric prose, he takes a bizarre and abnormal event--the Rapture--and imagines how normal people would deal with being left behind.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Julianne Moore recommends Fear of Flying

I got an education in empowerment - In eighth grade I found my mother's copy of Erica Jong's Fear of Flying, which she'd hidden from me. I had no idea what all the sex stuff meant! Still, I knew it was about more than sexuality, that it was about female liberation.

Fear of Flying is a 1973 novel by Erica Jong, which became famously controversial for its attitudes towards female sexuality, and figured in the development of second-wave feminism. The novel is written in the first person: narrated by its protagonist, Isadora Zelda White Stollerman Wing, a 29-year-old poet who has published two books of poetry. On a trip to Vienna with her second husband, Isadora decides to indulge her sexual fantasies with another man. Its tone may be considered conversational or informal. The story's American narrator is struggling to find her place in the world of academia, feminist scholarship, and in the literary world as a whole. The narrator is a female author of erotic poetry, which she publishes without fully realizing how much attention she will attract from both critics and writers of alarming fan letters.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Julianne Moore recommends Little House in the Big Woods

I grew up with the Little House characters - I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's books as a kid. Little House in the Big Woods is written for a younger child, and as you mature, the books do too. I was confused when my daughter did not like them at all. -- in Redbookmag.com I started reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series when I was 8. The drama of the series was enhanced by the fact that I knew these were true stories – the hardships and pleasures of the pioneer life she described had actually happened to a little girl, and not only had she survived it, but she had grown up to write about it too. The most emotionally wrenching and enthralling of the series was “The Long Winter,” a depiction of the winter her family endured in 1880-81 while they were living in South Dakota. The winter blizzards lasted seven long months, during which the railroads stopped running to their town, and her family was trapped inside their house, subsisting on a very meager diet of potatoes and brown bread. I can still remember the passages where Ingalls described twisting hay into sticks all day for fuel for the fire, and her worry that they would finally run out of hay and they would freeze to death. It kind of made my pre-adolescent worries pale by comparison.

Little House in the Big Woods is a children's novel by Laura Ingalls Wilder published in 1932. The book is the first in the Little House series, which is based on decades-old memories of Wilder's early childhood in the Big Woods near Pepin, Wisconsin, in the late 19th century. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named Little House in the Big Woods one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was one of the "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.

The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin

Julianne Moore recommends The Baby-Sitters Club

She [her daughter] is hooked on The Baby-Sitters Club series, though. They're only in print up to volume 7, so I wrote to the author, Ann M. Martin—but she didn't have any more! We found a hundred-and-fifty-something books on eBay, and she can't stop reading them.

It all began with a great idea...Kristy Thomas' brilliant business plan to form a club of friends who will babysit for neighbours gets off to a flying start wit the help of Claudia Kishi (vice-president), Mary Anne Spier (secretary), and Stacey McGill (treasurer). Friendships are forged, adventures begun and life lessons learned in the first book of the series that took the world by storm.

Rapture by Susan Minot

Julianne Moore recommends Rapture

Susan Minot perfectly captures the details of a love affair—the intimacy, disappointment, and eventual estrangement that lead to a breakup—from two points of view in Rapture. I love films about romantic relationships, but I feel like there are so few of them for adults these days. Someone should make this into a movie.

The setting is a New York apartment where two long-estranged lovers try to resuscitate their passion. Kay is old enough to be skeptical about men–this man in particular–but still alert to the possibility of true love. Benjamin is a filmmaker with an appealing waywardness and a conveniently disappearing fiancée. As the two lie entwined in bed, Susan Minot ushers readers across an entire landscape of memory and sensation to reveal the infinite nuances of sex: its power to exalt and deceive, to connect two separate selves or make them fully aware of their solitude. Honest and unflinching, the result is a hypnotic reading experience.

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Julianne Moore recommends Tenth of December

Eloquent, shocking, and unparalleled in their humanity -- these short stories are so very moving.

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet. In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.

Jacob's Folly: A Novel by Rebecca Miller

Julianne Moore recommends Jacob's Folly: A Novel

A highly complex and riveting novel that spans centuries, cultures, and families -- all from the perspective of a man that has been reincarnated as a fly!

A luminous novel-funny and moving in equal measure-that shines with the author's unique talents Jacob's Folly is a rollicking, ingenious, saucy book, brimful of sparkling, unexpected characters, that takes on desire, faith, love, acting-and reincarnation. In eighteenth-century Paris, Jacob Cerf is a Jew, a peddler of knives, saltcellars, and snuffboxes. Despite a disastrous teenage marriage, he is determined to raise himself up in life, by whatever means he can. More than two hundred years later, Jacob is amazed to find himself reincarnated as a fly in the Long Island suburbs of twenty-first-century America, his new life twisted in ways he could never have imagined. But even the tiniest of insects can influence the turning of the world, and thanks to his arrival, the lives of a reliable volunteer fireman and a young Orthodox Jewish woman nursing a secret ambition will never be the same. Through the unique lens of Jacob's consciousness, Rebecca Miller explores change in all its different guises-personal, spiritual, literal. The hold of the past on the present, the power of private hopes and dreams, the collision of fate and free will: Miller's world-which is our own, transfigured by her clear gaze and by her sharp, surprising wit-comes brilliantly to life in the pages of this profoundly original novel.

I couldn't put down this story of a group of friends who meet in summer camp as teenagers and remain close through middle age. I am always infatuated with Meg Wolitzer's characters, and her intense interest in their relationships and importance to each other. And she always makes me laugh.

Also recommended by: Delia Ephron

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken. Named a best book of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Time, and The Chicago Tribune, and named a notable book by The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post Remarkable . . . With this book [Wolitzer] has surpassed herself. The New York Times Book Review "A victory . . . The Interestings secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's."Entertainment Weekly (A) From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a new novel that has been called "genius" (The Chicago Tribune), wonderful (Vanity Fair), "ambitious" (San Francisco Chronicle), and a page-turner (Cosmopolitan), which The New York Times Book Review says is "among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzens Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot." The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

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