A few of her favorites:
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
I wrote my senior essay in college on this book, specifically Morrison's relationship to the African oral-narrative tradition. My favorite passage describes a water stain on a wood table—how that stain takes on new life and meaning with the passage of time and family history. I think Morrison has the most deeply poetic voice in contemporary American fiction, and I have never missed reading anything she's written.
Click here to read about her other favorites.
The Complete Greek Tragedies by Euripides
When I was about 13, I became very interested in classic Greek tragedies, and I think these represent the best of them. They combine what we'd identify as modern psychology with the concept of destiny. It's impossible to forget these characters—Medea, for instance, who kills her own beloved children when faced with her husband's betrayal. These are stories of such passion.
Naked by David Sedaris
In this collection of autobiographical essays, humanity's wicked little details are seen through the eyes of a truly strange man. Sedaris's observations are sometimes weirdly funny and unexpectedly moving—including his trip of self-discovery to a nudist camp. I read Naked in one sitting and then bought five copies to give to friends.
Foster on reading:
Books have always been my escape—where I go to bury my nose, hone my senses, or play the emotional tourist in a world of my own choosing. I'm a "head first" person, really. Words are my best expressive tool, my favorite shield, my point of entry. One of my first memories? Hunching in the car with Chariots of the Gods, waiting for my mother to drive me to school.
When I was growing up, books took me away from my life to a solitary place that didn't feel lonely. They celebrated the outcasts, people who sat on the margins of society contemplating their interiors. When adolescence got scary, I turned to books addictively: Franny and Zooey, The Magus, The Idiot—just 50 more pages and I'll call it a day; just 20 more pages and I can have dessert. Books were my cure for a romanticized unhappiness, for the anxiety of impending adulthood. They were all mine, private islands with secret passwords only the worthy could utter.