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Tavi Gevinson: Books of My Life

The teen sensation shares the authors and works that have impacted her life

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Name Tavi Gevinson
Titles 18-year-old writer, editor, actress
Number of Books Written Three
Most Recent Rookie Yearbook Three
What It Is Collected best from her online girls’ magazine

The best books I read in school
Elementary school: The View From Saturday was a crucial read because I was so concerned with grades and academic achievements, and it opened my mind up to the possibility that other things were more important. Middle school: To Kill a Mockingbird and Flowers for Algernon. High school: Light in August or Beloved or The Great Gatsby or Death of a Salesman…I mean, so many. Once I started Rookie and my whole GPA went down, English was the one class I still did really well in and cared about.

The illicit book I read in secret as a kid
TTYL, which was written entirely in AIM-speak and detailed teenage girls drinking and having sex.

The books that changed my life
Franny and Zooey. I related to being singled out by adults as a child who is different from other children. Ghost World and Weetzie Bat taught middle-school me so much about choosing to find oddities of the world wonderful. As did Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler. Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem equipped me for being a person. And certain picture books were seminal, like Fat, Fat Rose Marie and Christina Katerina & the Box.

The book I’ve read over and over
In middle school and high school I reread The Virgin Suicides every summer. I can’t unblur the lines between the moments and visuals from the book and the memories of my own life at that time.

The book I wish I’d written
The Simon Critchley book on the philosophy of David Bowie. You can feel how it was at once deeply satisfying and really fun for him to write it.

Movie adaptations I love
The Virgin Suicides, Ghost World, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. All so near and dear to my heart, as much as the books were. All with soundtracks that I essentially copied whenever I’d make someone a mixtape.

If I could read only one genre, it’d be…
Lately I’ve been weaving in and out of essay collections: Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith, White Girls by Hilton Als, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, My 1980s by Wayne Koestenbaum, and Susan Sontag’s early diaries. I could do that for a lifetime. Though it seems terrifying to not get to escape into fiction ever again. I don’t know. Desert-island questions are designed to make you a fumbling idiot.

The last book that made me laugh…and the last one that made me cry
Tenth of December made me do both, often at the same time, often in public, often to be met with a sympathetic nod from someone else who did the exact same thing.

My fictional heroes
Enid Coleslaw, Eloise, Weetzie Bat, Pippi Longstocking, Turtle from The Westing Game, Scout Finch, Sheila from Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. All inquisitive minds; sometimes obnoxious. I don’t know why they were all girls — probably because I was looking for people to model myself after.

My literary crushes
The entire clan in The Secret History, and Donna Tartt too, for that matter. She looks so f—ing sharp whenever you see a picture of her. And then you read what she has to say and it makes her even cooler. It’s how I feel when I see pictures of teen Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp holding hands in leather jackets, like nobody can match that.

What I’m reading now
The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan, and Redefining Realness by Janet Mock. All bases covered.

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