From teen idol to literary force, Molly Ringwald has now published three books as well as buzzy essays in The New Yorker. Coming off her latest, greatest writerly challenge — translating Philippe Besson’s sexy French queer romance Lie With Me (often called the French Brokeback Mountain) — she spoke with EW about the books that have influenced her.
MY FAVORITE BOOK AS A KID
My mother read books to me and my siblings and would hide the book at a crucial moment so we couldn’t read ahead. The first time I remember being entirely engrossed in a book was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. When I was able to read on my own, I was obsessed with the books of poetry by Shel Silverstein.
A MOVIE ADAPTATION OF A BOOK I LOVED
Don’t Look Now [1973, starring Julie Christie].
THE GENRE I’D READ IF I WERE LIMITED TO ONE
Literary fiction, I suppose: books about people that attempt to unravel the complexity of the human psyche in a profound and original way.
A BOOK I’VE PRETENDED TO READ, BUT HAVEN’T
None. Although there are many books that I feel I should have read but haven’t managed to yet. Moby-Dick, Don Quixote…
THE LAST BOOK TO MAKE ME LAUGH, AND THE LAST BOOK TO MAKE ME CRY
The writing of Etgar Keret: Suddenly, a Knock on the Door always makes me laugh. [His books are] not written for kids, but I find that they are enjoyable for both. I recently read the story “Lieland” to my 9-year-old son in an attempt to keep him off of the computer for a while, and he loved it.
The book I just translated, Lie With Me, made me cry every single time I worked on it.
A BOOK I’VE READ OVER AND OVER
Bluets, by Maggie Nelson.
A BOOK PEOPLE MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN I LOVE
Michel Houellebecq’s [The] Elementary Particles. I’m a little surprised and disappointed that I like his writing myself.
MY LITERARY HEROES
Mary Oliver, Grace Paley, and Walt Whitman come to mind.
MY BOOK THAT CEMENTED ME AS A WRITER
My second book — a novel called When It Happens to You .
THE AUTHOR WHO CHANGED MY LIFE
I think probably Raymond Carver (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love), because reading his writing at a relatively young age — 17, 18? — inspired me the most to write myself.
WHAT I’M READING RIGHT NOW
Proust’s Duchess, by Caroline Weber.