The writer whose new book is ''A Place in the World,'' would have disliked traveling with D.H.Lawrence : ''He had a genius for sense of place, but his travel narratives are marred by petty narcissism.

.- What books are on your night stand?

Rebecca Solnit's ''Orwell's Roses.'' Under than, Gerald Murnane's ''Border Districts.'' Then Deborah Levy's memoir ''Real Estate,'' which I am reading for the second time, Lee Smith's forthcoming ''Silver Alert,'' Alice McDermott's ''What About the Baby?,'' Blue Guide Le Marche, Rachel Eisendrath's ''Gallery of Clouds,'' and ''Sonata,'' photographs by Aaron Schuman.

.- What's the last great book that you read?

'' This Is Happiness,'' by Nial Williams. Before that. ''The Hare With Amber Eyes,'' by Edmund De Waal, and ''Austerlitz,'' by W.G. Sebald. My personal definition of great : When finishing a book, do I want to applaud, then throw it up in the air and catch it?  Yes, to these three moving and profound books.

.- Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

After visiting Portugal, I began to read Fernando Pessoa. '' The Book of Disquiet'' is, well, disquieting, sometimes boring, sometimes contrary but most often eye-opening and unique.

.- What's your favorite book no one else has heard of?

The ''Zibaldone,'' by Giacomo Taldegardo Francisco de Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi. A trip to Recanati to visit his childhood home's library led him to this mammoth compilation of philosophical, cranky, dark, lyrical entries , a personal and unforgettable commonplace book.

.- What book should nobody read until the age of 40?

''My Struggle,'' by Karl Ove Knausgaard. All the fans I know are over 50.

.- You're known for your best-selling trilogy of Tuscan memoirs,  beginning with ''Under the Tuscan Sun''. Which writers would you recommend to somebody who  wants to learn more about life in Italy?

Beppe Severgnini and Tim Parks are astute nonfiction writers on contemporary Italy. Jan Morris is not to be missed. Fall in love with Italian life by reading my favorite insightful and true fiction writers :

Natalia Ginzburg, Cesare Parvese [also poetry], Leonardo Sciascia, Niccolo Tucci, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, Umberto Eco, Elena Ferrante, Alberto Moravia, Primo Levi 

. Are there travel writers you especially admire?

Lawrence Durrell and Patrick Leigh Fermore gave me the essential Greece. Freya Stark bravely struck out for Arab countries in the 1930s and wrote exquisitely about her journeys.

Ann Cornelisen's ''Torregreca'' told me what I would not have known about the south of Italy. Patience Gray also wrote evocatively about the south [Puglia] in ''Honey From a Weed''. '' M.F.K. Fisher has been a long companion.

''Deep Rivers,'' by Jose Maria Arguedas, revealed Peru. W.B.Yeats gave me Ireland, Isak Dinesan Africa, Orhan Pamuk Istanbul, and Kate Simon, the in-between towns of Italy.

Recently I found Sybille Bedford's wild '' A Visit to Don Otavio : A Mexican Journey,'' which made me homesick for a travel era when surprise and unpredictability were givens. 

I could write a book about all the writers I love who have felt drawn to places not their own. 

.- What's the best book you've ever received as a gift?

When I was in high school, my mother, not a literary person, found on a department store's sale table in Macon, Ga., two copies of the first Variorum edition of the poems of William Butler Yeats, signed by the poet.

She remembered that I read him and bought both copies. I gave one to my friend who also loved Yeats and for both of us that giant volume has been a lifelong treasure. Now and then I open it and stare at his crabbed signature.

.- What's the last book that you recommend to a member of your family?

I gave ''A Swim in a Pond in the Rain,'' by George Saunders, to my husband, Ed, because it is a glorious reminder of the intensity of teaching and of what reading can mean.

.- What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

I am assured that I will love ''Moby Dick''?  if I just give myself another chance.

.- What are you planning on reading next?

''Moby Dick''? Not yet. Whatever trip is next - Poland? Egypt? Denmark? I'll be immersed in the books by writers who call that place home.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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