Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of over 13 books including her latest release Such A Perfect Wife. We recently chatted with the suspense writer and got the lowdown on her favorite books, what she’s reading next and her essentials while traveling and writing.

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If you had to choose three to five of your favorite books of all time, what would they be and why?

It’s so hard to narrow the list down, but here are a few that jump out for me:

The Dead by James Joyce. This novella, part of Dubliners, is of the most profound, haunting studies of human nature ever. I read it at least once a year.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Like so many women, I was a huge Nancy Drew fan as a girl, but I had no idea how to continue to satisfy my longing for mysteries once I outgrew those books. After college, I stumbled on a reference to Hammett, the king of the hard-boiled detective novel. Wow, I loved all his books, but the twist in this one is brilliant. A fantastic movie too.

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller. I read a lot of contemporary literary fiction, and as a mystery writer, I’m drawn to those books with a mystery at the center, like Julian Barnes’ brilliant Sense of an Ending, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and this fabulous novel from the wonderful Miller. When the truth emerges, it’s shattering.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. I’ve reread this play a zillion times. Talk about brilliant crime stories!

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Speaking of Shakespeare, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a modern, powerful and devastating reimagining of King Lear, focusing on three grown Iowa sisters and their father. It knocked my socks off.

What is currently on your #TBR (to be read) pile?

Blood Oath by Linda Fairstein. It’s her latest legal thriller and I loved her Alexandra Cooper series.

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke. This is Alafair’s latest stand-alone novel. She’s another mystery author I adore.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt. I’m halfway through and reading it very, very slowly so I can totally savor this delicious exploration of the greatest writer in history.

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems by Camille Paglia. This book is always on my night table. I have one in my home in Uruguay too.

Which authors do you admire most?

William Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald (sorry, didn’t have room for any of his books on my list above, but I loved them all) and Agatha Christie (hey, I probably wouldn’t have my career without her).

What’s one writing essential you can’t live without? 

My plain, spare desk. I don’t do well with visual noise, so all I keep on my desk is my laptop, a lamp, an Amazon Echo (in order to play opera or meditation music when I write), a pencil holder and a scented candle (thanks, Lisa Gardner, for suggesting this as a tip to make writing more inviting!). 

What’s one thing you must have while traveling on a book tour?

My iPad with my Kindle loaded. Though I love talking about my own books on tour, I’m a fanatic reader and have to have a bunch of books with me at all times!