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By Lisa Tolin

It should come as no surprise that Michelle Obama took early inspiration from a character with "superhuman strength." Even if that superhero wore pigtails.

In an interview for Jenna Bush's new "Open Book" video series on TODAY, Mrs. Obama recalls the first book love of her life: "Pippi Longstocking."

"I was really fascinated with this strong little girl that was the center of everything. And she was almost magical in a way. I mean, she was stronger and tougher than anyone. She had superhuman strength," Mrs. Obama told TODAY.

She was drawn to the character's quirks, and notes that no one ever explains why Pippi lives alone, or who takes care of her: "She took care of herself."

When reading to her own children, the former first lady loved "Goodnight Moon," while her husband favored "Where the Wild Things Are," which he read to a group of kids (and bees) at the White House.

"We're a household of readers," she said.

When asked for the books that most influenced her as an adult, Mrs. Obama chose "The Grapes of Wrath" and Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon."

"I rarely have time to re-read books, but 'Song of Solomon,' every time I pick it up, I'm pulled into that story," Mrs. Obama said.

Of course, she has guilty pleasures, too, and points to "just good fiction" like Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl" or Paula Hawkins' "The Girl on the Train."

"It's just sort of a good story. It doesn't sort of necessarily teach you anything," Mrs. Obama said.

And these days, she has the pleasure of letting her children recommend books to her.

"Malia is a huge fan of Zadie Smith, so I re-read 'White Teeth' with her."

Since leaving the White House, Mrs. Obama does her power reading from her home office.

"I've got a chair with a little lamp and an ottoman," she said. "And I do everything from that chair. I run the world from that chair."