Sam Taylor-Wood: My Life in Books

Sam Taylor-Wood on the books that shaped her life

The artist and film director shares the novels which have stolen her heart

This was the book that ignited my passion for reading. I grew up on a commune and while there were lots of books around. Jane Eyre was the first book I remember loving but not the first time around - then I was like, “Oh, dull!” But when I failed my O-level and had to read it again, I started to see how to read, rather than see it as a school task.

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I was 19, at art college, and I saw a student reading this. I think it was that thing of desperately wanting to feel a part of everything, so I brought it. I loved it - the darkness, the guilt and the questioning of everything. Sex, death, passion are things we’re all preoccupied with, They’re themes that have continued through centuries of art, books and cinema.

A friend gave this to me and it sat there for ages but, when I did get around to it, I read it very quickly. It’s fantastic adventure, a real rip-roaring read. A lot of it is autobiographical, so knowing that makes it doubly extraordinary, and it’s got so many different levels to it. But it’s also a book you’ll be really entertained by.

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Indignation, Philip Roth

I’m not huge Philip Roth fan but I loved this; it was the strongest character-driven book I’ve read for a long time. It centers around one guy, Marcus, who’s at college and all the anxiety and pain he goes through in life. It was a strange and troubling read, but brilliantly written. I found him beautiful.

Digby began her life as an aristocrat and ended up an adventure-explorer. I found her just fascinating, the way she stormed through life, one scandal after another. She was very emancipated, totally ahead of her time, and lived life very much on her own terms, which definitely appealed to me. I loved the spirit of her: I hadn’t read such powerful, radical, adventurous female character in a long time.

Sam Taylor-Wood directs 50 Shades

Sam Taylor-Wood works with Louis Vuitton

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