It’s no secret that if you really want to get to know someone, you just have to read their favourite books – and Australian icon Margot Robbie has just let us in on hers.
In the latest instalment of Chanel’s In The Library series, the actor and producer revealed her favourite childhood books, what she’s reading now, and the books she turns to again and again.
“I was a voracious reader when I was little, and I think I read for the escapism – the same reason I love movies,” Robbie says in the episode.
The first book she read was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
“I was eight years old and in school,” Robbie says. “Our teacher was reading out loud to the class and as soon as she started reading it, I was hooked.”
The teacher stopped reading so they could do another lesson. “I was like, ‘But what happens?'” Robbie recalls. “And she was like, ‘You’ll find out tomorrow’. And I was like, ‘No, I need to know now. I can’t wait till tomorrow’. So I went home and found my sister’s copy and read the whole thing, and then I was hooked.”
Shortly after, she discovered a little known book called Harry Potter while on a family holiday. “I was at my mum’s friend’s house up on property where there was no TV, nothing to do, but there was this book, Harry Potter. I started reading it and I got obviously obsessed.”
Other childhood favourites include Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books, as well as Nancy Drew. “It’s kind of strange, I was obviously a kid in the 90s, but these books I think are 40s, 50s and 60s. I don’t know why I was more interested in literature from the past.”
Another quirk from childhood? Reading on the roof or in a tree. Yes, you read that right. Robbie grew up in Queensland’s Currumbin Valley, in a “not very big house” with five of them in it.
“You’d often want to be outside to get away from everyone else,” she says. “So I had a tree I’d go sit in and read, and do my homework. And I’d read on the roof all the time. It was another place to get away from everyone.”
“It’s really hard to read a book without thinking about it in a works sense,” she says.
One of her all-time favourites, though, is Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which she associates with attending Spain’s annual Running of the Bulls festival on a backpacking trip age 18.
“I remember picking it up and starting it before I left, and obviously I was too young or not in the right headspace to appreciate Hemingway, but once I got there, this book became everything to me,” Robbie says, her face lighting up. “I stepped into a completely different world.”
Other favourites include To Kill A Mockingbird (she named her dog ‘Boo Radley’ after Harper Lee’s iconic character), Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven, and Peter Bisky’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.
“The 70s was a fascinating time of change, both culturally in America and also for film industries,” she says. “There’s such a stark difference from 1969 onwards, when Easy Rider came out, but what it did and how it shifted that era of filmmaking has completely had a knock-on effect on all my favourite movies. This book is so good for talking about that.”
You can watch her full interview in the video above.
Lead photo: Chanel