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7 Books J.K. Rowling Loves

(and the Author She Fangirls Over)

By Beth Clark • November 16, 2018

J.K. Rowling the Writer...and the Reader

Long before she became the queen of the Twitterverse or the beloved author of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, and Lethal White, J.K. Rowling was (and still is) a voracious reader...a habit shared by the majority of the world's ultra-successful people. It probably won't surprise you that what she read as a child shaped who she became as an adult, inspired her to become an author, and influenced her writing, but the author who prompted her fangirl moment may, so keep reading for that and other fun facts!

Before J.K. Rowling, there was Joanne Rowling

J.K. Rowling, the (first female) billionaire author, began life as Joanne Rowling, no middle name or initial. Called Jo for short, she was a girl who loved to read and wrote her first book, titled "Rabbit," at the age of six. (Her first novel followed five years later.) The "J" is obvious, and the "K" stands for Kathleen, in honor of her paternal grandmother (because she had to choose something), but why did Rowling use "J.K." instead of her real name in the first place? Because right or wrong, her publisher believed (correctly) Harry Potter would appeal to both girls and boys, and convinced her she'd sell more books to the latter if they didn't know she was a woman. As rapidly as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone took the world by storm, her true identity was divulged almost immediately, so we'll never know. She does, however, have another pen name that's even more overtly male: Robert Galbraith.

Robert Galbraith...Who?

Robert Galbraith is the author of the Cormoran Strike crime fiction series, of which the recently-released Lethal White is book #4. Books #1, #2, and #3 are The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil, respectively. Robert Galbraith also happens to be…J.K. Rowling. Why would a bestselling author invent a pseudonym? Simple: to write for a different audience in a new genre. However, thanks to an epic Twitter foul, J.K. Rowling, aka Jo Murray—her married name since she wed husband Neil Murray in 2001—was outed quickly yet again (three months).

7 Books She Loves...and Her Author Fangirl Moment

When she's not busy writing or slaying Twitter trolls, Rowling is still an insatiable reader with a wide range of interests, from humor to history and everything in between. Oh, and the author that brings out the fangirl in her? Amy Schumer. Her assertion that Schumer's memoir was the most she'd ever laughed out loud at a book was one of many fandom moments between them. (She also took a selfie with Taylor Swift backstage at one of her London shows = love.)

And finally, the 7 books she loves. (Rowling's comments are in quotes below the titles.)

1. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

"This is the most I've ever laughed out loud at a book."

2. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

"Goudge was the only one whose influence I was conscious of. She always described what the children were eating, and I really liked knowing what they had in their sandwiches."

3. The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

"She's the children's writer with whom I most identify. She said, 'By some lucky chance, I remember exactly how I felt and thought at 11.' That struck a chord with me. The Story of the Treasure Seekers was a breakthrough children's book. Oswald is such a very real narrator, at a time when most people were writing morality plays for children."

4. The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle

Rowling told O, The Oprah Magazine that despite its violent subject matter, Doyle's book "is surprisingly engaging and uplifting." "He also leaves her with her dignity, even though what she's going through is a horrific thing. And he does it all in such a subtle way. I do think he's a genius. His dialogue is irreproachable. And your heart...you're totally drawn into his books."

5. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Rowling named historian Goodwin's Abraham Lincoln bio and the story of his political triumph over three talented rivals as a favorite in an interview with The New York Times' 'By the Book'…Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, and ThriftBooks' own Lance Pettit agree with her.

6. Skellig by David Almond

The story of a boy whose sister is dying having his life changed by a magical creature, Rowling said "It's the best children's book I have read recently."

7. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

"This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I've ever met." The story of the Mortmain children and their parents who live in a rented, crumbling castle in the English countryside, as told by 17-year-old Cassandra, was one of Rowling's favorites growing up.

Bonus: if you've seen any of Rowling's 2008 Harvard commencement speech about embracing failure, Very Good Lives is the permanent bookshelf-worthy literary version of it, so you're welcome. (And, as always, thanks for shopping ThriftBooks.com.)

Read more by Beth Clark

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