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The Guardian
May 15, 2020

Tori Amos: 'Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel cracked me wide open'

The singer-songwriter on discovering and befriending Neil Gaiman, gold-standard Nora Ephron, and taking inspiration from Robert Macfarlane

The book I am currently reading
Sarah Kendzior has been studying Central Asian autocrats for decades. She has a podcast called Gaslit Nation with Andrea Chalupa that has been exposing the ties of the Trump administration to the Russian mafia. Currently, I am reading her new book Hiding in Plain Sight.

The book that changed my life
In 1990 I discovered Neil Gaiman's comic book series The Sandman and wrote a song that references the Dream King and Neil. He called me up saying he really liked it, and we've been pals now for almost 30 years.

The book I wish I'd written
Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me not only underscored my experience as a female singer-songwriter in the music industry but probably rang true for most women globally. I wish I could have written any of her books.

The book that had the greatest influence on my writing
As a teenager I was required to read Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Little did I know that would spark a passion for all myths.

The book I think is most underrated
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, in a translation of the original Coptic Gospel of Mary by Jean-Yves Leloup, was the gospel that my mother Mary and I read together. We found another layer of Jesus's teachings through her. My father, the Rev Dr Amos, was not so keen on my mum being so inspired by this gospel, so we kept it sacred and close to our hearts and between us.

The last book that made me cry
Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel cracked me wide open. Her memoir filled with ghosts, from unfinished stories to unborn children, cut straight to my heart and rattled my bones.

The last book that made me laugh
Laughing is sometimes the only medicine that pulls me from the gloom. Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is pure gold.

The book I couldn't finish
It has taken me a while to realise that when someone recommends a book I need to remember if their brain is the size of a planet. The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins is truly above my mental punching weight.

The book I'm most ashamed not to have read
In high school, I was assigned Milton's Samson Agonistes. Which meant, to my mum's disappointment, that I never got around to Paradise Lost.

The book I give as a gift
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer -- a light read for anyone's Happy Birthday.

My earliest reading memory
My mother would read "The Raven" from her well worn collected works of Edgar Allan Poe to send me off to the land of dream.

My comfort read
The definition of comfort for me is inspiration. Robert Macfarlane's Landmarks has been my travelling companion on more than one journey.

Resistance: A Songwriter's Story of Hope, Change and Courage by Tori Amos is published by Hodder & Stoughton.


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