The writer, actress, and film director finds provocation and, above all, art in the most unusual places and characters—an Irish heroine, a Norwegian rambler, an anthology of fears, and in the wry, luminous protagonists of Lorrie Moore.
I read so many short, easy things. I read the label on the shampoo bottle, I read e-mail, I read the headings of all the top Google news stories, I read magazines. And this gives me lots of practice for all my short, easy thoughts: Turn left at the light. Bring a sweater. Add salt. There's nothing wrong with thoughts like these; the world would collapse without them. But I also have longer, harder thoughts, ones that I circle slowly, over months, years, my whole life probably. I return again and again to the same irresolvable questions as I attempt to share my life with another person, to be a good daughter, to be an artist. These slow thoughts often catch me unawares, while turning left or adding salt. I am startled, almost insulted to be reminded of my own depths: This is unnecessary! I'm doing fine! I remembered to bring a sweater!

Books hold a place inside of me for the long thoughts. And they also taught me how to think like that in the first place. Their slow cadence, the commitment and silence they require, the way they endure over generations—these are not easy qualities to locate in the world, or in myself. And the best part is, unlike most roads to the unknown, books aren't conjured by prayer or devotion: They're real, they're cheap, and they make a sound when you drop them.

Miranda July's first story collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You, was released in 2007. She also co-edited a collection of photographs called Learning to Love You More with artist Harrell Fletcher.   What's on Miranda July's Bookshelf? Read more!


Next Story