It’s been sometimes joked that the greatest actors could simply read the dictionary and hold an audience rapt. But sitting Tilda Swinton down to talk about her love of books is really and truly the late Christmas present we didn’t even realize we wanted (how did we miss that?). And that is precisely what Chanel has done for its sixth edition of its Les Rendez-vous littéraires rue Cambon series, subtitled In the Library With Tilda Swinton.
Amusingly, the ethereal actress starts off with an anecdote about Maurice Sendak and his brother having loved certain books so much that they eventually ate them – and it’s so good that it doesn’t even matter if it’s true. “One’s relationship with reading is really specific,” she observes, as she recalls her young self sleeping with her favorite tomes under her pillow.
“Reading became quite a drug when I was about ten – when I could really sit and be engrossed in a book for a whole afternoon. That was a big emotion for me.”
She charmingly recounts how her parents simply filled the house with books, and didn’t so much encourage specific reads as just let the power of suggestion take its course. She not unexpectedly also points to Virginia Woolf’s 1928 masterpiece Orlando specifically as having significantly influenced her at the early age of 13. Of course, in 1992 she would star as the title character in Sally Potter’s liberty-taking and rapturously reviewed film adaptation.
Surely no one who knows much about Tilda would be surprised that she still sleeps, “…surrounded by books, it’s a sort of installation. Every time I think of moving them, I just stop myself.” And she confesses that the chaos of her dedicated book room (it’s called “My Book Room,” not “The Book Room”) tends to unsettle all those who dare to enter.
Now, we’ll readily confess that we have sometimes fantasized about having a week with nothing else to do but read all day and sip prosecco on a lakeside terrace along Italy’s Lake Como, whilst Ms. Swinton sits close by doing the same – ending the day with yet more prosecco and lively discussions on what we’d read. This delightful Chanel short simply suggests that it would be just as awesome as we’d always imagined it would be.