Sophie Lee's reading list


Sophie Lee, the illuminating Australian actress, author and mother of three, shares her favourite titles in the first of an ongoing series – this month, Lee is captivated by a spellbinding tale of espionage and notes a sweet storybook that appears at her family’s breakfast table. 

1. On her radar right now: I am currently reading – or should I say devouring in hungry chunks – the crime novel, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. It's a sprawling epic that opens in Manhattan with the perfect crime and goes on to span the globe in a race against time. Espionage, secret intelligence and a devastatingly compelling leading man.

2. A favourite book from her childhood: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Surreal, elegant, funny, odd and insightful. I have read and reread this amazing book countless times and glean some new understanding of the human condition with every visitation. I guess that's why they call it a classic.

3. The storytime favourite that she loves sharing with her children: Down The Back of The Chair by Margaret Mahy. I adore poetry and relish sharing this passion with my children. This marvelous poem by the late, great New Zealand author Margaret Mahy is a delight. My daughter and I like to recite it over our breakfast cereal. The picture book version is beautifully illustrated by Polly Dunbar.

4. The genre that fascinates her most: I have always adored mystery and crime, a passion that harks back to my early years curled up with Trixie Belden. This has since progressed into a full blown addiction to all things Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell and more recently, to US crime writer greats such as Michael Connelly and Robert Crais. But if you asked me to select my all-time favourite crime novel I would have to nominate the magnificent Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.

5. A book that changed her life: Edie – An American Biography by Jean Stein. I read this as a teenager and became utterly transfixed by the Warholian glamour of the ultimate It girl, Edie Sedgwick.

6. The inspiration behind writing her own childrens’ books, Edie Amelia and the Monkey
 Shoe Mystery and Edie Amelia and the Runcible River Fever: I grew up in a household with no television but wall-to-wall bookshelves, so books have always been a source of great joy. I can remember gazing at the spines of all the yet to be read novels that awaited me there, eagerly plucking an E. Nesbit here or an Enid Blyton there, and lying in bed tightly gripping a copy of The Hobbit silently wishing it would never end. I also recall the thrill of discovering a  great new author such as Lucy Maud Montgomery who had produced a series – Anne of Green Gables – that I could immerse myself in for days or weeks. After a lifelong love affair with books it has been incredibly rewarding to have my own work published too.

7. Her all-time favourite classic: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. This may be the perfect novel.

8. The best book to give hard-to-please types: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I adore this feel-good, laugh-out-loud romantic bundle of eccentricity and goodness. 

9. Her favourite coffee table tome: Kate: The Kate Moss Book, published in 2012. Because you can never have enough Kate Moss.

10. And her digital fix: I love Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP for her great advice on fashion and lifestyle. And my all-time favourite magazine is Entertainment Weekly so I visit their free app, The Must List regularly.

Main image, clockwise from top left: Edie – An American Biography by Jean Stein; The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes; Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie; Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; Down The Back of The Chair by Margaret Mahy; The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath; Kate: The Kate Moss book by Fabien Baron, Jess Hallett and Jefferson Hack