Real Magic

Isabel Allende’s Book Bag: 5 Books That Influenced Me

The Chilean magical realism writer shares the books that have influenced her the most. Her new novel is Maya’s Notebook, out today.

The Female Eunuchby Germaine Greer

This was the first feminist book I ever read. It was l970 and I was in my late 20s, working as a journalist. The Female Eunuch showed me the power of articulate, smart, and humorous language to express the anger I felt at the male establishment. It became my manual.

One Hundred Years of Solitudeby Gabriel García Márquez

Published in l967, it is the most important Latin American novel of the 20th century. Its rich imagery and language were familiar to me: I grew up hearing that kind of story. I wrote my first novel, The House of the Spirits, with the same freedom, magic and insanity that I thought Márquez had called upon in his own writing.

Broken Openby Elizabeth Lesser

I have searched for spirituality in different venues for half a century. I have read many books on this subject but this is the only one that I keep on my night table. It is about wisdom, compassion, love, and spiritual practice in the real world.

La Lumière des Justesby Henri Troyat

These four books and many others by this prolific writer, which I read in French as a teenager, gave me a taste for historical novels, family sagas, tragedy, melodrama, unforgettable characters, political, and social conflict, etc. When I write I can smell Troyat’s ghost watching over my shoulder!

Arabian Nightsby anonymous

I read this collection of ancient stories when I was 13, living in Lebanon. Perfect timing! In those four volumes, read when my hormones and my imagination were raging, I discovered the irresistible mix of eroticism, fantasy, and adventure. The stories marked me, my writing, and my sex life forever.