Actor-director Kenneth Branagh's favorite books are plotted journeys into wild places, old times and tortured souls.
I remember the first book I bought. I was 11, and my father was shocked that I should spend money on such a thing. He's an intelligent man, but not a book reader. He wondered why I wasn't getting one from the library. It never occurred to him that I might want to read it again—that I might want to own it.
These days I'm a pretty eclectic reader, and I usually have a few books on the go at once. Sometimes it's a necessity. For instance, I'm reading The Double Bond: Primo Levi—A Biography, by Carole Angier. Double bond is a term in chemistry, which the author uses as a thematic emblem for her entire approach to Levi's life. But the combination of chemistry (I don't have a scientific part of my mind) plus Italian family trees and a psychological study—it's really quite taxing. So I'm also reading Annie Hawes's Extra Virgin, an account of two girls from London who go to Italy. It's very jaunty, not too complicated. Read alongside each other, they make for a rather good balance.
What's on Kenneth Branagh's Bookshelf? Read more!
From the November 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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