Allison Williams Chose The August Read For 'Book Of The Month Club' — So What Does She Recommend?
The Book of the Month Club has been providing us with great reading material for the better part of a century — and when they have a celebrity guest judge, they also give us some insight into what our favs are reading. This month Allison Williams was the guest judge for the Book of the Month Club and has selected Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. So although you might know her best as Marnie from the HBO show Girls or as a star on the red carpet, turns out you can also find her curled up with a good book.
Williams' selection, Circling the Sun, is the novelization of the life of real-life aviation pioneer Beryl Markham. Markham grew up in the British Colonial period in Kenya and was the first woman to work as a horse trainer in Kenya, and later became one of the first women in aviation. She was also the first person, male or female, to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from England to North America, as opposed to the much easier and safer West to East direction. Plus she was married three times, possibly had an affair with a prince, and was part of a love triangle with the author of Out of Africa. She even wrote a memoir that was praised by none other than Ernest Hemingway.
All of which is to say that Allison Williams has great taste in badass ladies.
And, in fact, her excellent taste goes all the way back to her childhood — as you can see in the Q&A with Book of the Month Club in honor of her time as guest judge.
Book of the Month Club: Circling the Sun, the novel you selected for Book of the Month, is a fictional story about a real woman who, as you point out, is torn between two worlds -- born in England and raised in Kenya. You also mention she is “unpolished and irreverent...brave and naïve.” Are there things about her story that remind you of your own life?
Allison Williams: When I was younger, I felt very connected to nature and the outdoors in general. This evolved into a love and passion for archaeology and anthropology, both of which I studied in college (though I majored in English). I grew up going to a ranch in Montana each summer, so I have also always adored horses. My relationship to that little girl is one of the things I hold most dear to me in my adult life. However, I don’t want to misrepresent myself – my childhood contained a fraction of the fantastic and otherworldly adventures that Beryl’s did.
You were an English major at Yale and have been very vocal about your love of reading. What was your favorite book growing up?
That’s an easy one. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I still reread it from time to time.
Marnie Michaels, your character on the hit show Girls, is often described as high-strung and image conscious. What would she say is her favorite book?
Her answer to that would probably change with each boyfriend. Her first answer, when she was dating Charlie, would probably have been The Andy Warhol Diaries, since she wanted to be in the art world. Then, when she was with Booth Jonathan, her answer would have been What is the What by Dave Eggers. When she was with Ray, she would have said The Shining by Stephen King, because…why not. And when she was with Desi, she would have said her favorite book was Just Kids by Patti Smith. Now that she’s on her own, I would bet her favorite book is also one of mine: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It’s a totally unreliable narrative written messily but profoundly by a woman who was younger than she seemed. Sounds about right to me.
Who are some of the contemporary writers that you think best speak for theGirls generation?
Bossypants by Tina Fey has to be up there…obviously Lena Dunham is one such other as well. Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates should be in there…definitely Zadie Smith… I’m going to include Leslie Jamison and her beautiful Empathy Exams because I’ve gotten to know and love her…and I don’t think this would be an honest list if I didn’t include Nicholas Sparks. Oh, and Roxane Gay for sure.
You’ve said that you write in your journal “one line a day.” That sounds cool! Any plans to share with the public or to write your own book?
I would never share that journal with the public! But I highly recommend buying one. As for writing my own book, I don’t have any plans to do so. At this point in my career, I think it’s more important for me to help tell others’ stories than it is for me to tell my own. Someday, definitely. I think I’d write Fiction first, but I’ve definitely got some personal essays in me. Someday!
What literary character would you be most excited to play in a TV show or movie?
I would actually love to play Beryl from Circling the Sun. Although I’m sure someone already has the role, it would be an honor and a challenge. I love a challenge!
You are very involved with Horizons, an organization that supports academic achievement for low-income children across the country. What does this work mean to you, and how does the program work?
The work means more to me than I can say. Horizons changes lives very tangibly and individually by working with students from low-income families. We turn their summers from sedentary days spent falling behind in school into happy, learning and adventure-filled weeks. They return every year from Pre-K until they graduate from high school, and we send the vast majority of our students onto higher learning. Horizons works to combat summer slide, and each program creates its own family that is individual to its surroundings and community. It’s an amazing organization, and I’m so proud to be so linked to it.
Your adorable dog Moxie is somewhat of a star on your Instagram feed. A lot of pets are becoming social media stars in their own right. (We’ve worked with Lil Bub and AlbertBabyCat recently.) Any chance that Moxie will get his own account one of these days?
Moxie is certainly the most adorable and hilarious presence in my life, currently, but I don’t know about giving her her own page. I can barely remember to contribute to my own page!
Image: Book of the Month Club