Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to All You Can Ever Know author Nicole Chung.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Nicole Chung: When I was three or four, I had what I think must have been a highly abridged copy of Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, with illustrations taken from the animated movie by Chuck Jones, and my mom read it to me so many times I can still remember how she did all the different animals’ voices. I adored and requested it purely because it scared me so much.
BM: Favorite re-read?
NC: I reread Station Eleven on a plane at least once per year, which, I’ve been told, should be a recipe for panic—but I’ve always found it a strangely comforting read, and that’s what I want when I’m away from home.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
NC: Recently, Madeline Miller’s Circe, and not for any reason other than its absolute beauty; I’ve read it at least four times since I got it last Christmas.
BM: Last book you read?
NC: Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros.
BM: A book that made you cry?
NC: I don’t typically cry when I read books, but I came close with Crystal Hana Kim’s beautiful debut If You Leave Me.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
NC: I love everything Bryan Washington writes, and his debut story collection Lot is a gorgeous, vivid gut-punch of a book.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
NC: Texts from Jane Eyre, by my friend Daniel Mallory Ortberg. “Texts from Moby-Dick” kills me every time.
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
NC: This changes all the time, but the book I’ve gifted most in the past year is Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko.
BM: Classic book you hate?
NC: Tristam Shandy. (Reader, I didn’t finish it.)
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
NC: That I watched the Andrew Davies TV adaptation of Daniel Deronda without reading the book doesn’t keep me up at night or anything, but maybe it should?
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
NC: Probably a tossup between The Odyssey and Henry V. (This has reminded me that we were not assigned many works by women at my high school.)
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
NC: Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham; Real Life, Brandon Taylor’s debut; Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall; My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education by Jennine Capó Crucet.
BM: Favorite children’s book?
NC: When I was growing up, my two favorites were E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and Roald Dahl’s Danny, the Champion of the World.
Nicole Chung‘s memoir, All You Can Ever Know, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award, and named a Best Book of the Year by nearly two dozen outlets, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, NPR, Time, Newsday, and
Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know is out now in paperback from Catapult