Friday, Jun. 18, 2010

Christine Baranski's Short List

Baranski had a 20-year career onstage, racking up two Tonys before landing a role on the hit TV show Cybill, for which she won an Emmy. She went on to add several TV and movie roles to her resume and currently can be seen as a brassy lawyer on the CBS drama The Good Wife. In her downtime this bookworm might be found with a volume about female pioneers in her hands or lost in London memories.

X chrome — accented
I'm drawn to reading any kind of book about women — novels, biographies, autobiographies. My all-time favorite is The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, a novel I reread every few years. And, as I play a tough feminist lawyer on The Good Wife, I read Living History by Hillary Clinton this summer.

The empire of Abba
When I was in London filming Mamma Mia!, I was engrossed in Niall Ferguson's book Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. One of my happiest days that summer was a rainy afternoon spent in the Cabinet War Rooms followed by a walk through St. James's Park, where a small band was playing a medley from ... Mamma Mia!

Pioneering women
I adore books about adventurous women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who spent time in Africa or the Middle East. The Wilder Shores of Love by Lesley Blanch is a classic. There's also West with the Night by Beryl Markham. That's a book I read to both of my preadolescent daughters.

Big-screen fave
My favorite film from the time I saw it when I was a student at Juilliard is Lawrence of Arabia ... so cinematic!

West meets East
Gertrude Bell was the female Lawrence of Arabia. I read her bio by Janet Wallach just as the U.S. was about to invade Iraq. An amazing woman! Born in England, she spent much of her life in the Middle East, and she established the National Museum of Iraq. I sent the book to Ridley Scott, thinking that with his fascination for East meets West, he would be the perfect director for her story.