She is 66 years old, has written 19 books and raised a family. That last word is the one that means the most to Isabel Allende. However, this Lima-born, Chilean-bred California resident cannot live without books, whether it be as the author of works as popular as La casa de los espíritus ( The House of the Spirits ) or as painful as Paula , or as a reader, part of a world that cannot be conceived of without the existence of the written word.
Q. How did you get your love for literature?
A. From fairy tales, stories by the Brothers Grimm and everything that I got my hands on, including the great Russian authors.
Q. Do you have a book that you’ve loved your entire life?
A. My step-father gave me the complete works of Shakespeare in an edition published by Aguilar translated into Spanish on gold-edged Bible paper. It’s a book that’s gone with me on all my exiles.
Q. Anything more recent?
A. La carretera (The Road) by Cormac McCarthy. Brutal. The harshest thing he has written, without a single ray of light.
Q. When do you do your reading?
A. Never while I’m writing. I leave it for trips, airports and now in the San Juan Islands, near Seattle (Washington). I spend my vacations reading all day long.
Q. Is there a way to instill reading in the Twitter generation?
A. I have three grandchildren and I have read them the same stories and (given) the same books to them (that I read). Andrea reads everything, including the telephone book. Alejandro just reads science fiction. And Nicole reads package labels.