Not so long ago I asked Napolitano what she was reading. Her reply:
I was a reader - a voracious one - before I was ever a writer. I simply love books. When I was a child and teenager, I read every genre. I was blissfully unaware of what was considered a "good" book; I thought a good book was simply one you couldn't put down. I loved the Louis L'Amour westerns, Sherlock Holmes, The Flowers in the Attic, everything Madeleine L'Engle wrote, Anne of Green Gables, The Lord of the Rings, the Betsy-Tacy series, Trixie Belden... I could go on and on (very happily). The three books, however, that had the biggest impact on me as a young writer, I read in my late teens and early twenties. Those were The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, Cathedral and Other Stories by Raymond Carver and The Ambassadors by Henry James. The Golden Notebook and the short story "Cathedral" blew the roof off what I thought was possible in fiction. Those books grabbed me by the ankles and hung me upside down. They made me want not just to write, but to write really, really well. The Ambassadors worked on me at a deeper level (such is the quiet power of Mr. James) and the novel also introduced me to a theme that would dominate my own work (and specifically A Good Hard Look): the risk of missing your own life.Visit Ann Napolitano's website.