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A selection of Lena Dunham's favourite books of all time


Lena Dunham has been heralded as a relatively controversial figure in the past, especially with the events of her own book and some of the content in it, in addition to accusations of Hollywood nepotism. However, regardless of her politics and controversies, Dunham is a well-accomplished writer, producer, creator, and actor, and she’s still only 35.

From her time on the hit show Girls to authoring her own books, including the smash memoir Not That Kind of Girl, fans are eager to find out what’s on her own personal bookshelf. Since the release of the memoir, Dunham has also put out three more books, which have all received some level of critical and public acclaim—even amid continuing controversies.

Unsurprisingly, Dunham’s bookshelf offers up a range of second and third-wave feminist fuel, stacked with the likes of Roxanne Gay, Alice Munro, Zadie Smith, Dorothy Allison, and, of course, Sylvia Plath. However, amid the flex books, she also cradles childhood classics like Anne of Green Gables and Eloise in Paris — as well as the remaining ‘Eloise’ collection. It’s actually relatively refreshing to see.

Dunham also hands over some poetry and deeper cut choices. The very first choice on the list might finally convince me to pick up Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, which has been recommended to me countless times. She also offers a deeper flex with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. 

Yes, the snob in me is rolling my eyes at her unabashed inclusion of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (you want people to stop calling you a white feminist and you go and do that?). But nobody is perfect, and she does have plenty of shining stars in there. Edna St. Vincent Millay? Toni Morrison? Shirley Jackson? All get the chef’s kiss of approval. 

If you want to check out Lena Dunham’s full reading list, you can see all of the picks on her bookshelf down below.

Lena Dunham’s favourite books:

  • The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing – Melissa Bank
  • A Little History of the World – E. H. Gombrich
  • Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
  • Apartment Therapy Presents: Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Real Design Solutions – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
  • Ariel: The Restored Edition – Sylvia Plath
  • Bad Feminist: Essays – Roxane Gay
  • Bastard Out of Carolina (20th Anniversary Edition) – Dorothy Allison
  • Blue is the Warmest Color – Julie Maroh
  • Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
  • Cavedweller – Dorothy Allison
  • Country Girl: A Memoir – Edna O’Brien
  • Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble: Some Things About Women and Notes on Media – Nora Ephron
  • Design Sponge at Home – Grace Bonney
  • Dinner: A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table – Jenny Rosenstrach
  • Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
  • Eloise – Kay Thompson
  • Eloise In Moscow – Kay Thompson
  • Eloise In Paris – Kay Thompson
  • Fanny At Chez Panisse – Alice Waters
  • Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories – Philip Roth
  • Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris
  • Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry – Leanne Shapton
  • Lentil – Robert McCloskey
  • Love Poems – Nikki Giovanni
  • Love, an Index (McSweeney’s Poetry Series) – Rebecca Lindenberg
  • Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home – Nina Stibbe
  • Madame Bovary: Provincial Ways – Gustave Flaubert
  • NW: A Novel – Zadie Smith
  • Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
  • Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx – Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  • Remodelista – Julie Carlson
  • Selected Stories, 1968-1994 – Alice Munro
  • Sex and the Single Girl – Helen Gurley Brown
  • She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
  • Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir – Diana Athill
  • Stet: An Editor’s Life – Diana Athill
  • Sula – Toni Morrison
  • Summer Blonde – Adrian Tomine
  • Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen – Heidi Swanson
  • Tenth of December – George Saunders
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  • The Boys of My Youth – Jo Ann Beard
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis – Lydia Davis
  • The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy
  • The Important Book – Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Journalist and the Murderer – Janet Malcolm
  • The Liars’ Club: A Memoir – Mary Karr
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.: A Novel – Adelle Waldman
  • The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) – Andy Warhol
  • The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf
  • The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  • The Writing Class – Jincy Willett
  • This Is My Life – Meg Wolitzer
  • Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from ‘Dear Sugar’ – Cheryl Strayed
  • Wallflower At the Orgy – Nora Ephron
  • Was She Pretty? – Leanne Shapton
  • We Have Always Lived In the Castle – Shirley Jackson
  • What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay – Daniel Mark Epstein
  • What She Saw… – Lucinda Rosenfeld
  • What the Living Do: Poems – Marie Howe
  • While I Was Gone – Sue Miller
  • With or Without You: A Memoir – Domenica Rut
  • Women in Clothes – Sheila Heti