Bette Midler is still in the grip of 19th century novelists

Of all the characters you played in different media, which role did you find the richest – the most romantic?

I’ve played several characters who started their lives as characters from real novels, but I guess I should go with CC Bloom, in “Beachs”. I know it’s sentimental, and yet the length of the years, the ups and downs, that relationship, the brilliant performances of Mayim Bialik and Barbara Hershey – you can’t deny that it certainly struck a chord.

Which character in literature would you most like to play?

Any woman of a certain age in anything from Shakespeare, Dickens, Congreve, Dryden or Sheridan.

What’s the last book you read that made you laugh?

“I know why the caged bird is singing.” The scene at the church, where a woman takes the spirit and rushes over to the pastor, is one of the funniest things I have ever read.

What’s the last book that made you cry?

“I know why the caged bird is singing.”

What topic would you like more authors to write about?

Race and reconstruction. The wickedness of the indicted Andrew Johnson should be common knowledge, but it isn’t. Our children must be made aware that we are still living with the consequences of Reconstruction. I’m 75, and that was news for me.

What genres do you particularly like to read? And what do you avoid?

I quickly read memoirs, diaries and biographies. James Beard’s memoir, “Delights and Prejudices”, Alex Haley’s “Malcolm X” impressed me a lot, Andre Agassi’s memoir was fantastic. “Chronicles” by the greatest actor of all, Bob Dylan, is it beautiful, “Life” by Keith Richards? I went out the next day and bought a guitar. “M Train” by Patti Smith, “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Levon Helm is awesome, the two books of Aretha by David Ritz, the book “Bodies of Water” by Roseanne Cash, the autobiography of Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber, “Hound Dog”. The Duke of Saint Simon, three volumes at the court of Louis XIV, is superb. I recently received a copy of the unedited diaries of Chips Channon, YIKES. Yet my favorite book is Quincy Troupe’s book with Miles Davis, “Miles: The Autobiography”. And I’m going to record to say that I loved Mariah Carey’s autobiography, “The Meaning of Mariah”. She sent it to me with a box of Kleenex. I have never, ever read horror.