Chelsea Clinton is back with She Persisted Around the World, a sequel to her best-selling children’s book She Persisted, which celebrates the accomplishments of women across the globe, throughout history. In honor of the book’s publication, the author answered EW’s questions about the books that have meant the most to her in her life — as well as a few other topics, such as her literary hero and her literary crush. (Hint: He’s none too saintly.) Read on below to learn all about the books of Clinton’s life, and purchase She Persisted Around the World here.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your favorite book as a child?
CHELSEA CLINTON: I’ve always loved to read and picking one book as a favorite would feel slightly disingenuous given how many books rotated through my head and heart as favorites, every year, every month, sometimes every week or during the summers, every day! The books I read in elementary school or early middle school that I reflect on most now include A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Files, Call of the Wild, Number the Stars, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Fahrenheit 451. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler always made me smile — as did everything by Beverly Cleary.
What books do you love to read to your children?
Unquestionably, the book I have read the most is Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess. It is Charlotte’s all-time favorite. I read it every night for more than a year and half — it was always the last book she wanted before bed. Now, we read it every few nights. She’s currently asking most for Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse. Aidan’s reigning favorite is probably Chicka Chicka 123.
What books do you read over and over again?
There is so much to read that I rarely read books twice. Yet, there are also books that feel elusive after I finish them and those that I know still have more pleasure, joy, and outright laughter to offer. Books I’ve read repeatedly including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, multiple books by James Baldwin, and the entire Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.
Is there a book people might be surprised to learn you love?
The summer after 6th grade I devoured every book David Eddings had written to that point, including the entire Belgariad and Malloreon series. I absolutely adored them!
What book does your whole family love?
We all love the Maisie Dobbs series. Jacqueline Winspear’s protagonist is indomitable and vulnerable, brilliant and kind.
Who is your literary hero?
At the moment, Mary Beard reigns as my literary hero. She manages to make ancient Rome both historical and of the moment, writes beautifully, and stands up to twitter trolls with grace and facts. What’s not to love?
And your literary crush?
Francis Crawford of Lymond. I fell in literary love when I first met him the summer I was 18 or 19 and every time I’ve re-read his chronicles, I understand why he captured and held my heart.
What book out there do you wish you’d written?
Cooking With Fernet Branca. I’ve never laughed so hard. Giving good-natured belly aching laughter is a real gift. Thank you James Hamilton-Paterson.
Name the last book that made you laugh, and the last book that made you cry.
The Mo Willems Pigeon books and his Elephant and Piggie series, which we frequently read, always make me laugh … [And] I tear up every time we read The Giving Tree. Every single time.
What is your most important writing rule?
Sit in front of my computer or notebook until words appear. Even if they’re not ultimately the right words, they are the beginning of that day’s work and will help wrangle the chapter out, even if circuitously!
What are you reading now?
I’m finally reading Lincoln in the Bardo. I’ve waited to read it because I don’t like thinking of children dying, even those in history. A friend recently urged me to read it — told me if I didn’t I wouldn’t know how perfect it was for this moment, and how painful. Wanting to know if I agreed with him or not drove me to pick it up.
What book has changed your life?
Every book I’ve ever started, including the ones I didn’t finish.