A collection of Claire Danes’ favourite books

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Garnering critical attention in the domains of both television and film, Claire Danes has established herself as one of the most acclaimed artists in the industry. Known for her powerful performance in projects like Homeland and Temple Grandin, Danes has earned multiple prestigious accolades along the way. With several Emmy and Golden Globe wins, the actor’s list of achievements when it comes to awards seasons is seemingly endless.

While the cinematic medium and the legendary predecessors who paved the way for Danes definitely played a major role in the development of her artistic sensibilities, Danes has also been influenced by literature. During a conversation with Oprah, the actor opened up about the books that left a lasting impression on her. Ranging from Ernest Hemingway to Lorrie Moore, Danes’ selection is an interesting one for anyone who loves to read.

Starting with Philip Roth’s Deception, Danes said: “What struck me about this novel, which is the story of an affair between two people, is the unusual way Roth tells the story — devoid of any description, stripped down to the dialogue alone. At times, you aren’t clear on who is speaking. His male characters are all so unsympathetic, brutal even, but vivid and charismatic and engaging. I don’t necessarily like them, but I feel intimate with them. That’s quite an achievement.”

While talking about James Salter’s Light Years, the actor revealed: “A friend gave this book to me, and I was just so struck by how beautifully the sentences were designed. The narrative is meditative and poetic. It seems a very accurate telling of what it is to be married — that is, for a fairly privileged white person to be married. At moments I would just stop, amazed by how elegant Salter’s prose is and how carefully he portrayed the inner lives of these people.”

Danes also elaborated on Christopher Isherwood’s distinctive prose: “His writing style is so direct, warm, and inclusive. There’s one passage in this book, published in 1964, that has really stayed with me — the description of America. The narrator is a British man teaching at a California college. He and a few colleagues are having a conversation, and an American woman is saying how romantic Mexico is. She’s critical of America. The protagonist argues with her, talking about the virtues of the United States. He says that its beauty is in its abstraction. I thought that was an amazing insight — possibly true and compelling, at least.”

Danes also included Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami in her collection, citing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as her favourite work from the author. An exercise in magical realism like the more popular Kafka on the Shore, narrative strands from the book were recently adapted into an interesting animated movie called Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.

The actor added: “This is a kind of Alice in Wonderland premise: A man is looking for a cat. Murakami describes these banal domestic experiences, but cumulatively, he spins an outrageous, trippy story. That’s a kind of magic — to make the magical seem ordinary and vice versa. It’s such a tender story, his search for the cat and, by extension, a life. That one task leads him on a labyrinthine journey.”

Check out the list below.

Claire Danes’ favourite books

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