Miriam Toews: 5 books that changed my life
Miriam Toews is the the acclaimed author of books like A Complicated Kindness and All My Puny Sorrows. She is an exquisite writer with, as it turns out, exquisite taste in books. We asked the 2016 Writers' Trust fellow to tell us about the books that have shaped her life and she responded with five: "I've selected these books because they all came to me, like gifts, surprisingly, when I needed them."
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
"Harriet was the first cool female protagonist I'd ever encountered. A sad but feisty loner who wanted to be a writer, who spied on people and took notes, and had to apologize for hurting people's feelings appealed to the embryonic writer inside of me."
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
"I snuck into my sister's bedroom, after she had left for university, and read Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro. It made me feel close to my sister, and it made me feel strong. I was 12."
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
"The scene where Rose O'Sharon breastfeeds the starving old man after losing her baby: such compassion and kindness. So horrifying, I had never read something so intimate, so beautiful, so many things at once. I became aware of what was possible with words."
Reading Writing by Julien Gracq
"The hardest time of my life... deeply depressed, despairing, Reading Writing reminded me, in beautiful language, of what I do and why I do it. This book said to me, get up and do your thing."
Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
"This book is about post-Soviet life... long monologues of ordinary people speaking so eloquently and passionately about love and war and terror and family. Russians talking about their souls."