Tilda Swinton: TOP TEN BOOKS


The Oscar-winning actress and muse and collaborator with such iconoclastic directors such Derek Jarman, Wes Anderson, and Luca Guadagnino, Swinton has left her mark in a string of memorable films, including OrlandoThe Deep End, Burn After ReadingI Am Love, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Grand Budapest HotelSnowpiercer, and We Need to Talk About Kevin. In addition to her acting career, she is known for her performance/installation piece, The Maybe, in which she presents herself as a museum exhibit in a glass case, and for a festival, The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams, that she conceived and hosted in Nairn in Scotland, where she lives.

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


Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

Mahmoud Darwish
Darwish, Palestinian poet of the Resistance, writes like breath. His passion for the essence of homeland is universal as well as painfully particular. A true master, a poet and a heart for the ages.
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Bento’s Sketchbook

John Berger
A reflection by one great lens-grinding thinker and revolutionary humanist on another: John Berger—our contemporary—writes on Benedict Spinoza, the 17th century philosopher so influential for the Enlightenment, but he also writes on drawing, on living, on life, and on living life now. For those not familiar with one or both, this is a great introduction to the company of two seminal souls.
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Une Vie Exemplaire

A succinct and comprehensive guide for living made up of irreducible bite-size wisdoms, exquisitely illustrated. From “Live the seasons” through “Lose time in chatting” and “Don’t be afraid to get wet,” to the unassailable “Go from time to time to Scotland,” there can be no better pocket of counsel for any of us at any age.
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The Complete Essays

Michel de Montaigne
Should, in my humble opinion, replace Gideon in hotel bedside tables the world over. An examination of what it means to be alive, an essay for every possible constituent part of the human experience, built upon the endearing and radically joyous motto “what do I know?” An uplifting and companionable fellow traveler for us all. A timely reminder of how toxic doubtlessness can be. Straight from the 16th century into the now. Forever and ever.
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The Driver's Seat

Muriel Spark
Completely sick. In all the right ways.
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Ring of Bright Water

Gavin Maxwell
One of the greatest Scottish writers, probably the most affecting prose witness to the unique spirit of the Highland wilderness there has ever been. This book, chronicling life lived with otters on the remote west coast of Scotland, was made into a classic children’s film by Disney in the sixties, but the book has depths and breadth untapped by the movie. Our Walden of the Hebrides. Beautiful.
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The Saga of Ring of Bright Water: The Enigma of Gavin Maxwell

Douglas Botting
For good measure, and because of its brilliance, I include Douglas Botting’s biography of Maxwell, as the Germans say, “in partnerlook.” An immersive portrait of a fascinating and haunting man, traveler, naturalist, shark fisherman, art historian, bon viveur, classical romantic adventurer and tragic hero of his own high drama. A great life story, written by a friend, of a life lived with legendary vigor, idealistic courage and a heartbreaking undertow.
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Love In a Cold Climate

Nancy Mitford
Lady Montdore: one of the greatest creations in English literature. Uncle Matthew: another. Cedric: yet another. The dottiness and passions of the English aristocracy pretty much nailed in one.
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The Collected Poems of Norman MacCaig

Norman MacCaig
Scotland’s preeminent poet both of the mountain and of the capital’s pavement. Doubleness is a Scottish art: the Passion and The Calvinism, the west and the east. The highlands and the lowlands. MacCaig embraces this split with true affection and verve (See also: The Strange Tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson…)
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Modern Nature

Derek Jarman
Joy and life and more life and more joy and street corners and making a garden out of stones and making films and love.
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