What's on Maggie Gyllenhaal's Bookshelf?
By Rohinton Mistry
The background: You pick up this book and you're hooked in ten pages. It's an epic story set in India in the 1970s about a handful of characters who meet in a moment of kindness and live together for a period of time; then they separate again.
Why she chose it: You see the world from a different perspective through these people, their level of poverty, their sacrifices. The two untouchables—who have absolutely nothing and are just trying to survive—are living so joyfully. This book forces open some compassion in you. (It's one of Oprah's top pics, too!)
What stuck with her: I don't want to give away the ending, but the story goes to the darkest depths of pain and then pulls you back out. And because you've been down so deep, when you get pulled back out, you have a momentary feeling of bliss.