"Mom used to read to us all the time from the Bible," Parton shares in an interview with Jenna Bush Hager before revealing her favorite Southern novelist.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
June 20, 2019
Michael Tran/Getty Images

Dolly Parton, she's just like us.

"I read everything in Reese Witherspoon's book club," the Smoky Mountain Songbird reveals in an interview with Jenna Bush Hager on the TODAY show about one of her favorite topics — books. Beyond Witherspoon's wonderful book club, Parton is a voracious reader, happily devouring at least 50 books a year, she estimates.

Sitting with Bush Hager on the grounds of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Parton also admits that she enjoys studying the religions of the world, learning how other people live and think to help nourish her curious mind. Her initial love for reading was sparked by her mama, who read to Parton and her siblings as they grew up in rural Tennessee. 

These days, Parton loves going back and reading "the old classics," that she may have missed out on while she was young. She also finds herself drawn to the writers of our region, sharing, "I have a favorite Southern writer named Lee Smith. She writes all these great stories about country people, mountain people." (Smith hails from Grundy, Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains.) Although, when asked what one book she'd have to have with her if she were stranded on a deserted island, Parton answered that it would have to be the Good Book. "I had better take the Bible because if I'm stranded on an island, I figure I may not get off of there and I might want to do some cramming," she said with a laugh. 

Later in the segment, Parton talks about her non-profit book gifting program, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, and the special place it holds in her heart since her dad couldn't read or write.

"That [he was illiterate] always bothered him and troubled him. So I wanted to do something so my dad could be proud, to help me with it. And daddy got to live long enough to hear the kids call me 'the book lady' and he was as proud of that as me being a star, and that meant so much to him. So I felt like I brought honor to my dad through that," Parton explains. Watch the full interview below.

If you're looking for your next great read, check out The Best New Books Coming Out Summer 2019. (Yes, you may have a hard time narrowing down your choices.)

WATCH: 18 Things You May Not Know About Dolly Parton

Well, Dolly, you've most certainly inspired us to spend less time watching the tube and more time nuzzled up with an amazing book. 

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