The Aviator star adores a fantasy children's trilogy, a complex French heroine and anything how-to.
I was a very difficult child, and the time I spent reading was about the only peace I gave my mother. Once, we traveled from England to Greece. She'd say, "Kate, look out the window at the lovely Alps," but I'd stay busy in my books. At Oxford University, I studied languages so I could read the great novels as they were originally written. I took what in the United States would be a double major in Russian and French, but I have to admit that the pressure of getting through so many books spoiled reading for me. It became a chore, and for years after I graduated I read only magazines.
When I was pregnant, I had the romantic idea that after the baby was born I would not only take up reading in earnest again, but also write a novel while my daughter slept in her Moses basket. Of course, I barely had time to keep up with my magazines until she started sleeping properly. But now she's 5, and I'm back reading.
I feel a bit exposed sharing this list of my current favorites—most are coming-of-age, rite-of-passage stories, but those are the themes of my life right now. This year, I'm the age my father was when he died, my daughter is the age I was when he died—and I got married. It's been an emotionally loaded time, fantastic but loaded. Books have always helped me make sense of things. With any life experience, you can find someone who has documented it in a poetic way.
Kate Beckinsale stars as Ava Gardner in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.