From the classy (Beyoncé!) to the trashy (Fifty Shades!), the 'Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo' author, shares the cultural touchstones she loves—and a few she loathes

By Sara Vilkomerson
Updated August 17, 2016 at 12:11 PM EDT
Andrew Lipovsky/Getty Images

As Amy Schumer debuts her long-awaited collection of personal essays, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, the comedian looks back on the books, movies, TV shows, and music that shaped her.

My favorite childhood books

Roald Dahl’s The BFG was huge. I loved The Hobbit, the Berenstain Bears books, and Eloise. And I read a lot of Nancy Drew.

What I read in secret as a kid

I would steal magazines—Redbook or other women’s magazines that were too sexual for a kid to read.

The albums I know by heart

I think I know every word to Lemonade. I know every word to Wu-Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). I know every word to Ani DiFranco’s Out of Range. A lot of Ani, actually. Rent, probably. And Hamilton.

The book I hated as a student

I actually really liked a lot of books we were assigned. John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat? Love it. But I couldn’t get into Vonnegut. His novels are the emperor’s new clothes to me. I pretended to like [Jack Kerouac’s] The Dharma Bums... I wanted to be into that whole Beat thing. I tried. Really.

The TV show that doesn’t get its due

Getting On.

My all-time favorite movie

Jesus’ Son. Or Short Cuts. But I would pick Jesus’ Son if I had to choose.

The song that always makes me feel better

Santigold, “Shove It.” I fall asleep to “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm,” Andrew Bird version.

The last book that pissed me off

Fifty Shades of Grey. I read two pages and I was like, “Is everyone f—ing crazy? This is garbage!” By the way, I love the movie. I’ve watched it five times.

Today’s best comic writers

My sister, Kim Caramele. Gotta give it up for [New Yorker TV critic] Emily Nussbaum. I love reading her stuff. Katie Dippold really makes me laugh. And the Transparent writers.

My literary crush

Lena Dunham.

A book people might be surprised to learn I love

I think people would be very surprised to learn that I even know how to read! Open by Andre Agassi. I love sports memoirs. And I don’t even care about sports,.

The last TV show I binged

I just watched all of The Night Of. The performances are just so incredible. I hope that show wins a million awards. I love John Turturro.

The best movie based on a book

I thought Gone Girl was really good. I’m excited about The Girl on the Train.

The clasic I’ve never read

The Art of War.

The classic I’ve pretended to have read

Anything by Dostoyevsky.

The last book that made me cry

Is it rude to say your own book made you cry? Because it was mine— when I did my own audio recording. And I started crying [doing the dedications].

The character—movie, TV, or literary—I’d want on my side in the zombie apocalypse

Omar from The Wire.

The last book that made me laugh

Jessi Klein’s You’ll Grow Out of It.

The fictional place I’d move to in a heartbeat

The Shire.

The book I’d use to squash a bug

Colin Quinn’s The Coloring Book. And then I’d send him a picture of it.