|photo: Nina Subin
Rebecca Dinerstein is the author of Lofoten (Aschehoug, 2012), a bilingual English-Norwegian collection of poems, and The Sunlit Night (Bloomsbury, June 2, 2015), her debut novel. She received her B.A. from Yale and her M.F.A. in Fiction from New York University, where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
On your nightstand now:
Mating by Norman Rush. One of the most encyclopedic, hilarious and illuminating works I've encountered. It's become the center of my emotional life for the past several weeks!
Favorite book when you were a child:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I have always loved Anne's red hair, her button nose and how deeply she feels delight. It was one of the first books that taught me how magical the real world can be, and that communicated a sense of wonder.
Your top five authors:
Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Mark Strand. A mix of uprightness, transgression, lyricism, sarcasm, tenderness, resolve, weight and levity.
Book you've faked reading:
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, and I'm not proud of it. Many of the writers I most admire count it as their favorite book. I'd like to read it properly, now that it's no longer homework!
Book you're an evangelist for:
Independent People by Halldór Laxness. It's a hard sell, in some ways, because it's super long and mostly about sheep. But trust me: you're going to love these sheep. And the warm, imaginative Icelanders who shepherd them.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry. The cover is a picture of a bunny standing under a mushroom in a rainstorm. I read this perfect little story, cover to cover, shall we say extremely often.
Book that changed your life:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Jane loves all that is "bright and energetic and high," and in Mr. Rochester, she finds "an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind." This is "what I reverence," she says, "what I delight in." I could not admire her more. I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was 25 (late bloomer!), in the midst of some significant personal and professional changes, and took the book as an instruction manual for how to center myself.
Favorite line from a book:
"When a man looks at a flowering plant growing slender and helpless up in the wilderness among a hundred thousand stones, and he has found this plant only by chance, then he asks: Why is it that life is always trying to burst forth? Should one pull up this plant and use it to clean one's pipe? No, for this plant also broods over the limitation and the unlimitation of all life, and lives in the love of the good beyond these hundred thousand stones, like you and me; water it with care, but do not uproot it, maybe it is little Ásta Sóllilja." --Independent People by Halldór Laxness
"There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort." --Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Which character you most relate to:
Buddy in Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger. He's many of the things I hope I am: quiet, patient and ecstatic toward the world around him. I love how much Buddy loves the little man who wears a top hat, and how he comes to think of that beguiling stranger as his "great friend."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. I read it for the first time my senior year of high school, and it made the world feel insanely rich and substantial.