The multidisciplinary artist reveals the books that have helped to shape her.

By David Canfield
April 14, 2020 at 03:15 PM EDT
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Courtesy of Miranda July

With a new eponymous retrospective book (available now), Miranda July, the award-winning author and director of the upcoming Kajillionaire (out June 19), talks kid lit, queer romance, and more.

My Favorite Book as a Child

It's Mandy, by Julie Andrews, weirdly. I'm actually reading that to my kid right now. I'm like, "Does this hold up? Is this good writing?" I will say, it's not great writing! [Laughs] It's plain and simple, it does the job. The story really still works for me. It has this sort of darkness to it.

A Movie Adaptation of a Book I Love

Call Me by Your Name. I saw the movie and was like, "Oh my God, that wasn't enough!" So I got the book. I'll think about the movie, because it really sticks with you, and then I'll drift over into the book and scenes that aren't in the movie. I think [the movie] did just right, a really good job, but there's really great stuff [in the book] where the story just keeps on going. I love that, as an unusual pair in my mind: a book and a movie that are very intertwined.

The Book I Read in Secret as a Kid

This was very Berkeley-childhood: There was a "free box" out in front of a bookstore, and I just grabbed a book from there when I was 12 or 13. It was about sex surrogates for the disabled — where the only way you could really have sex is with a skilled professional who'd be able to have sex with you. That was like my porn! It was very erotic to me. I don't think I was fetishizing it. These people really believed in the healing power of sex. So it was actually very positive, in terms of giving me a lot of compassion for different levels of ability.

The Book That Opened My Mind

We were at a comic book store and I grabbed A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns. It's a graphic comic. There's one part of the book where this cisgender man puts on his "hat of ignorance." This is a part my child loves. I act it out, always miming putting on the hat of ignorance. We're both laughing. But at the same time, it's fairly intense stuff that we're reading again and again. It's a perfect use of humor.

The Last Book That Made Me Cry

I Am Jim Henson. The story ends with the power of creativity. And I was just in pieces. My child is very used to this by now.

My Literary Hero

Many, truthfully. But my friend Sheila Heti. When we first met, I hadn't read her work. She gave me How Should a Person Be?. It's one of the only times I've read something and asked if I could have the privilege of blurbing it.

My Literary Crush

[The narrator of] Cleanness, by Garth Greenwell. This [interview] is gay-romance-themed, clearly. [Laughs] You just fall in love with this person. He's so open. More open than you might be with yourself about your own desires.

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