Jemima Kirke: TOP TEN BOOKS


Jemima Kirke via Wikimedia Commons

British-American Jemima Kirke can thank Saint Ann’s School in New York for setting a solid foundation for her life, both as an actress and as an artist. It’s where she became close friends with Lena Dunham, later acting in Dunham’s debut film Tiny Furniture, and going on to star in her best-known role as Jessa Johansson in Dunham’s Girls. Saint Ann’s also encouraged Kirke’s love of painting, and Sargent’s Daughters, a Lower East Side gallery, hosted Kirke’s “The Ceremony” — painted portraits of brides (made-up or real) and divorcées in their wedding gowns, in 2018. More recently, Kirke could be found at the fictional Moordale Secondary School in the hugely popular Netflix series, Sex Education, as the headmistress, Hope Haddon. And she’ll soon grace our screens in another zeitgeist-y project, the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends

Below are Jemima Kirke’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


André De Dienes: Marilyn

André De Dienes
Some of the most important pictures taken of Marilyn Monroe throughout her career with a memoir to go along with it. She and De Dienes were lovers and longtime friends. She would often visit him and take pictures purely for the catharsis of it.

Out of stock

Currently unavailable

Hollywood Babylon

Kenneth Anger 
A great beach read. Or better yet, a great book to have read to you while performing some inane and tedious task. It’s delicious Hollywood gossip starting from the first days of cinema through the ‘70s. And you better believe every word of it.
Add to cart

A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother

Rachel Cusk
No mother should leave these pages unturned. A sensitive and existential analysis of the heartache of being a mother. Cusk speaks to our dark side—the dark side that almost always bleeds over into the light.
Add to cart

My Mortal Enemy

Willa Cather
Specific, sharp and strange. It’s a good little novella on the relationship between two women, a mentor and mentee. Aptly titled.
Add to cart

Story of the Eye

Georges Bataille
My boyfriend gave me a copy of this before we started dating, which was a little heavy-handed, but I guess that’s why it worked. It’s an erotic exploration, if you can call it that. No, it’s more of a cautionary tale. You come away from it sickened. The depth of our sexuality is a place best left unchartered. Read alone.
Add to cart

The Theatre of Tennessee Williams: 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Other Short Plays

Tennessee Williams
These are some of Tennessee Williams’s short plays, ones that were rarely performed or produced. I particularly like “The Rain,” as it’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. Also “27 Wagons Full of Cotton.” It was the precursor to “Baby Doll,” although even Kazan’s film softened some of its edges.
Add to cart

Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution

Laura Pennie
This was the first book that explained radical feminism to me. She untangles the smallest, most insidious ways that we all contribute to preserving the patriarchy. She also carefully aligns all women: sex workers to stay-at-home mothers. Also, after reading this I will no longer participate in conversation about feminism that leaves out class and race.
Add to cart

The Beautiful and Damned

F. Scott Fitzgerald
A love story that takes place in the world of the young, jaded, elite crowd of 1920s NYC. Never has a book made me want to jump inside it just to go shopping like this one. It’s the most stylish book you’ll ever read.
Add to cart

Wuthering Heights

Emily Brontë
I’ve been looking for Heathcliff ever since. My copy is all warped and sticky from all the tears I’ve shed over it.
Add to cart

Therese Raquin

Emile Zola 
If it hasn’t been established yet, then this one says it loud and clear: I’m inclined to morbidity. Set in the stinking streets of early 19th century Paris, it’s a morbid thriller/love story about self sabotage.
Add to cart