André Leon Talley

Critic; Curator; Writer; Editor; Lecturer; Executive / Fashion Design / United States / Numéro Russia; Vogue

Books Are a Man’s Best Friend

I remember the first book I read and loved as a child: Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. Then I read Germinal. I was around ten years old. Of course by the time I was in my early teens I was more fascinated by reading articles in magazines and newspapers like Vogue and the New York Times, which I did every Sunday afternoon.

I don’t have any critera for selecting reading matter. I learned early that to read is to be illuminated. To read is to be empowered. Knowledge is power. Therefore I will choose any book on any subject (except perhaps natural sciences, chemistry, or psychology)—history, biographies, novels, great authors—it does not matter.

In high school I would walk the stalls of the library and read the titles on the book spines. What struck my eye is what I selected. Today, I’ll make a spontaneous selection at a bookstore or if I read an article by Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times—I run to buy anything she reviews.  I never read on an electronic device; I tried a Kindle—it just didn't make it for me. I need to crack open a book and turn a page.

To borrow from “Diamonds are a girl's best friend,” books are a man’s best friend.

1 book
Truman Capote

This is one of my favorite books, I always read it as a young boy at Christmas and loved the simple narrative of Aunt Sook. It so reminded me of my home, and my life with my grandmother: the prepping of fruit cake for the holidays, the intimate bonding of a young child to an older adult—friends between the generational divide. It’s a great, great masterpiece.

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