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If anyone understands the transformative power of books, it's actor, political activist and author Jane Fonda.
In the fall of 2019, it was a book titled "On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal" by Naomi Klein that inspired the "Grace and Frankie" star to move to Washington, D.C., and lead demonstrations demanding action against climate change. The weekly protests became known as Fire Drill Fridays.
In a recent interview with TODAY's resident book lover Jenna Bush Hager, Fonda discussed her experience, which she has written about in a new book, "What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action."
“I had been asking myself, 'What can I do?'" said Fonda. "When you are a celebrity, you know this, you have a platform and you want to know how you can most responsibly use it."
The book combines Fonda's personal journey leading thousands in nonviolent civil disobedience to bring attention to climate change with a deep dive into the issues at stake if things do not change.
Fonda said this book is "more for older people" who contributed to the issue of climate change and are not taking the threat to the future of our planet seriously.
The book also offers a call to action, giving readers the tools they need to join the fight.
"At the end of each chapter is a section called what can I do, which is very user-friendly and very, very specific," said Fonda.
Fonda said this isn't the first time a book has inspired her to take action in her life. She said "The Village of Ben Suc" by Jonathan Schell caused her to move from France to the United States to join the G.I. movement.
“Books have always been very important to me. I’ve had major transitions because of books," said Fonda.
She also remembered the transformative books of her childhood. She said "Green Mansions" by William Henry Hudson was the first book that made her forget she was reading.
"You’re not conscious of pages and words and eyes scanning sentences," said Fonda. "You are there in the book, that’s when literature can take you over, and it’s the most beautiful thing to wish for someone."
As for recent reads, Fonda said "The Overstory" by Richard Powers is one of “the most beautiful books" she has ever read.
She also recommended “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson as a must for all readers.
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