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She proved herself as a credible actress in a variety of roles, she has starred in several films including Mighty Aphrodite, The Replacement Killers and Summer of Sam.

What keeps Mira reading and dreaming? Books of philosophy and hope give this actress the kick she's looking for!

I love books. I get on these kicks and gobble up whatever I can on a subject. I've been reading geisha books recently: Arthur Golden's novel, Memoirs of a Geisha; then Geisha, A Life, by Mineko Iwasaki—who was a geisha (coauthored by Rande Brown). Finally Geisha, an anthropological study by Liza Crihfield Dalby, a Caucasian American who had studied, as part of her dissertation, to be a geisha in Kyoto in the seventies.

  1. Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden

    Book Cover: Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden
    (literature and fiction)

I think I get on these jags because I miss being a student. My friends and I give one another books that we've loved, and we talk about them. I've noticed that, even if we're excited with a book, each of us has had a very private, almost untranslatable experience with it. I love getting lost in a story and dreaming about its images days after finishing it. Reading and dreaming are essential to my life.

Mira Sorvino's favorite books

  1. A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking

    Book Cover: A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking

    "I found this [A Brief History of Time] to be utterly fascinating, if extremely challenging reading. It expands one's vision of the universe we live in and our place in it. I believe it has had a lasting influence on the way I think. "

  2. Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

    Book Cover: Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
    (history, teens)

    "I read this book when I was ten and cried my eyes out when I finished it. Our housekeeper, a German woman, asked what was wrong. I said, "This is so terrible—all these people," and she said, "Oh no, they are lying. Many more Germans died than Jews. Only 600,000 Jews died, not six million." It was a real wake-up call—proof that some people rewrite history—and a lesson about how we must be vigilant in remembering events like this one. In college, I wrote my thesis about racial conflict in China between Chinese and African students. And I worked on Freedom to Hate, a documentary about neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic hate groups in Russia. More recently, I was in The Grey Zone, a film about the revolt of prisoners at Auschwitz, by Tim Blake Nelson. I have to attribute my interest in crimes of hatred to this book."

  3. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

    Book Cover: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
    (literature and fiction)

    "I was captivated both by the atmosphere and imagery of traditional China evoked in this novel—it was the beginning of my fascination with Chinese culture. I was twelve when I read this, and my very good friend was Angela Wang. Her family would take me with them to Chinatown to see the Peking Opera and to Chinese New Year's celebrations. When I got to college, I chose Chinese studies as my major, and after I graduated I lived in China. Like Anne Frank's diary, this book influenced so many decisions I made later on."

  4. Bastard Out Of Carolina By Dorothy Allison

    Book Cover: Bastard Out Of Carolina By Dorothy Allison
    (literature and fiction)

    "I've always felt there were many seminal coming-of-age stories about young boys, but no one great American novel about a young girl's—until I read this book. It follows Ruth Anne Boatwright's struggle to become a young woman, to find her place within the large Boatwright family, and to deal with her increasingly abusive stepfather. I loved Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding, but I felt that this story was stronger and deeper and rougher and truer. It's just a brilliant novel. "

  5. Holy Bible, King James Version New Testament

    Book Cover: Holy Bible, King James Version New Testament
    (literature and fiction)

    "My mother is a very religious person, and I first read much of the New Testament with her when I was a girl. Its inspirational parts, especially the passages about love, give me strength and a desire for goodness that I don't find in much of our modern world."

  6. Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

    Book Cover: Man
    (health, religion and spirituality)

    "The director Tim Blake Nelson had me read this book as part of my preparation for The Grey Zone. Frankl, who survived Auschwitz, writes that human beings want meaning in their lives. He argues that those at Auschwitz who had something to live for—a person they loved or an ideal or a cause they could dedicate their behavior to—were better able to survive in the camps. He suggests there is a way to be an exemplary human being even in the face of an awful fate that one cannot change. I tried to give that feeling to my character—a woman who is helping smuggle gunpowder out of the factory where she's working to other rebels among the inmates at Auschwitz. (Their efforts result in the destruction of one of the crematoriums.) She has dedicated her life to the cause of trying to slow down the machinery of death, and she's willing to die for it."

  7. Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny

    Book Cover: Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny

    "In 1971, Sereny interviewed Nazi Franz Stangl in an attempt to understand how a man could go from being a master weaver to the commandant of two death camps. The most important thing for me was how clearly his life proves that at every point a person has a choice. If he had said, "No, I will not be party to this," he might have been punished, demoted, or even killed. But at the end of his life, he admitted it would have been better to die than to have ended up where he did. It's a story about actively living by your principles and about that certain point when you have to make an absolute moral choice. Stangl was never willing to do that. Not even once."

  8. Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

    Book Cover: Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
    (literature and fiction)

    "I've come to love the visual arts. Whenever I travel, I visit the museums. I found this fictionalized account of a servant in painter Johannes Vermeer's household fascinating, especially in how it explores the power, not of the artist but of the subject of a painting. The sitter, a young maid, is the person we all have our eyes on, and even though the painter is pulling the strings—determining the pose and costume and composition—her humanity is undeniable. It's so strong, in fact, that the writer was able to create a whole story about this unknown girl."

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Why should you listen to her?

Mira Sorvino born on September 28, 1967

"Someone asked me, 'What advice would you give someone who wants to be famous?'" Mira Sorvino says about an encounter she had in 1997. "I said, 'Have a deeper ambition than that!' Wanting to be famous is a very weird end goal."

Born in Tenafly, New Jersey, Sorvino's father is the very talented actor Paul Sorvino (Nixon (1995)). He did not exactly encourage his Harvard-educated daughter to follow in his footsteps, but she was not to be denied.

As for the fame issue, she now sees it slightly differently, especially after it came her way following her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite (1995) and her much-publicized relationship with Quentin Tarantino: "I started seeing the value of fame in the past few years because I would see other people getting parts I was dying to get. I was actually told: 'Yours was the best audition, but it's not about that. You're not getting the part.'"

Sorvino has been married to actor Christopher Backus since June 2004. They have two children together.


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