The best selling author of ''Wonder,'' ''Pony'' and '' White Bird,'' soon to be a feature film, likes to read ink on paper : '' I'm old fashioned .......... I haven't been able to get into audiobooks, as much as I've tried.

.- What books are on your night stand?

'' We, the Drowned,'' by Carsten Jensen; '' The Betrothed,'' by Alessandro Manzoni; '' Utopia for Realists : How We Can Build the Ideal World,'' by Rutger Bregman; and ''Binti,'' by Nnedi Okorafor.

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

'' The Buried Giant,'' by Kazuo Ishiguro.

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

'' The Land of Spices, '' by Kate O'Brien. I know people in Ireland are well acquainted with this author because of interviews I've done there, where it's obvious she's quite beloved, but no one in my circle of book-loving friends and colleagues on this side of the Atlantic has ever heard of this book.

Published in 1941, this quiet, luminous little book had a profound impact on me when I read it about a decade ago - both spiritually, as a seeker, and as a writer. My goodness, there is something about the way the Irish write that just gets me.

.- Describe your ideal reading experience [ when, where, what, how ].

I honestly don't have an ideal place or time to read. Whenever or wherever I'm into a book that I can't put down - that time and that place becomes the ideal for me. As to the form of my ideal, I'm old-fashioned. I prefer paper and ink - paperbacks especially.

I haven't been able to get into audiobooks as much as I've tried.

Which writers - novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets working today do you admire most?

Kazuo Ishiguro, because of the expanse of his work. An English butler in 1930s Oxford. Children raised for body parts in a dystopian future. Saxon warriors in Arthurian times. 

I love when authors don't repeat themselves, but jumpin space and time to write whatever the heck they want.

.- What writers are especially good on adolescent life?

Judy Blume.

.- How do you distinguish children's books from adult fiction?

There are no curse words in kids' books.

.- Which children's books would you recommend to people who don't usually read children's books?

There are too many to name, but here are a few : '' A Long Walk to Water,'' by Linda Sue Park; ''Refugee,'' by Alan Gratz;  '' The Book Thief '' by Markus Zusak; '' When You Reach Me,'' by Rebecca Stead. 

People who never venture into the kids' section of bookstores don't know how much they're missing.

.- What moves you most in a work of literature?

Without doubt, the thing that gets me every time is when I come across an unexpected moment of tenderness between people. I remember reading ''The Road'' on the subway one morning, and I was just crying like a baby.

It was embarrassing. Sure, it's a novel full of unbelievable violence and apocalyptic nightmare stuff, but the humanity and love is there right from the first line of the book.

'' When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.'' Has there even been a better first line? It's all right there - darkness and light, and love.

.- Has a book ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

Both my sons recently read '' Les Miserables '' and the amazing conversations that were sparked by the grandness of that enormous volume are among the best I've ever had. 

I love how affected they both were, not only by the heroic intentions of young people their age, but by the small affirmations of human goodness reflected in the subtlest of gestures, the briefest of dialogues.

I can't say these conversations made us actually closer than we already are, but when you children become adults with whom you can have deep, philosophic conversations that blow your mind, well, it's really a joyful, exuberant, life affirming moment in the life of a parent.

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

My mother gave me a copy of her favorite book in the world. '' The Little Prince, '' when I was 8.

.- How have your reading tastes changed over time?

I appreciate brevity a lot more these days. When I was younger, I had the patience to get through really long epic books - James Michener, James Clavell, etc. I don't think I could do that anymore.

.- You're organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

While I wouldn't mind nerding out with Carl Sagan, J.R.R.Tolkien and Arthur C Clarke, I'll  keep it to the living :

Susanna Clarke, Margaret Atwood and Judy Blume.  Can you guys arrange that?

.- What are you planning on reading next?

'' Foster,'' by Claire Keegan, and '' Victory City,'' by Salman Rushdie.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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