The actress revisits memoirs, reportage, and an entrancing novel that transported her to other places—literally: savannas in Kenya, villages in India, and a spiraling Russian staircase.
What I look for in a book is something that feels honest, that illuminates the human experience. It's remarkable when someone can bring you into their world and their thought process and their emotional life in an uncensored way.

Those books are the ones that stick. I love books that connect me to reality, that provoke me to go see the world they've described—which happened with almost all my choices on this list. After reading one memoir, I ended up in Kenya doing flights with bush pilots. A Russian novel led me not just to the art museums of Moscow but to the author's home, and to an extraordinary staircase. One account of slavery took me to Lake Volta in Ghana and to villages in India (and led me to start an advocacy group that works to eradicate slavery).

It's then, when I'm in one of these places, that I realize how vital and necessary it is for us to share our stories.

— As told to M Healey


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