From new hits to old classics, the songstress shares her most beloved books.

By Meghan Overdeep
December 07, 2020
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Despite giving away 1.5 million books a month via her Imagination Library, Dolly Parton has a difficult time parting with her extensive personal collection.  

The country music icon gave fans a rundown on her most beloved books in Marie Claire’s latest episode of “Shelf Portrait,” a series that offers an inside look at the personal libraries of celebrities, influencers, and famous bookworms.   

Parton pared down her “hundreds and hundreds of books” to one bookcase decorated with a few mementos for the video tour (below), including a tiny vintage piano, ornaments, and family photos.

The first book she highlights is a “special one” written by her sister Willadeene, In Shadow of a Song: The Story of the Parton Family, before moving on to Oral History, a 2011 novel by her favorite Southern writer, Lee Smith.

"This book really hits home for me because it's really about Southern people,” Parton explains.“It's a wonderful story about families, and love, and romance, and just the hard times that people go through. Lee Smith just tells a story in such a way that it just goes plum deep into my soul and heart.

“If you have not read Lee Smith you better get after it,” she adds.

As for the book she’s read more than any other, that award goes to the Bible.

"Mom started reading this to us before we had books in our house,” Parton recalls, holding up a King James version of the Bible to the camera. “There’s a lot of wisdom in here. I find a lot of strength and a lot of hope in reading the Bible. There's just something about the fact that it always seemed to anchor mama, and she always seemed to anchor us. So, I know that there's a lot of wisdom in here that I can always draw from.”

Other noteworthy mentions include Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, The Little Engine That Could (the first book in the Imagination Library and Parton’s favorite book growing up), and Grapes of Wrath.  

Dolly Parton
Credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images

“Nothing like the old classics,” she says, adding that she’s read the John Steinbeck classic at least three times in her life.  

“I'm going to always pick a paperback book,” Parton says when pressed about e-readers. “I just love the feel of books, the smell of books. I love, physically, the touch of books.”