Thanks to certain intrepid writers, the Company Men actress found the courage to choose the life she wanted.

By Anaïs Nin

"Nin's unexpurgated diaries are astounding," says Bello. The French writer's journals stretch from her early adolescence to her death in 1977; this volume covers 1934 to 1937. "She decided to only tell her truth, to live her truth, no matter how that was seen by the world. She writes, 'I have no fear of depths, and a great fear of shallow waters'—the shallowness of life," Bello says. "When I read her diaries, I was introduced to the possibility of living unconventionally in a world that seems to honor convention. Nin made me realize that I have a choice—and gave me the courage to choose the life I want."
Memorable quote: "Life. Fire. Being myself on fire I set others on fire. Never death. Fire and life. Le jeux."

Bello's next pick: Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen


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