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Kate Beckinsale needs books

Kate Beckinsale needs books

Kate Beckinsale "panics" if she doesn't have anything to read.

The 'Love and Friendship' actress - who has 17-year-old daughter Lily with ex-partner Michael Sheen - admits studying for a joint honours degree in French and Russian literature at Oxford University sparked an "identity crisis" because it put her off reading for a long time afterwards, but these days she always insists on carrying at least six novels with her to satisfy her passion for the printed word.

She said: "We were definitely a family with a lot of books.

"Then at Oxford, doing double honours in modern languages, I had to read everything in the original. They'd say, 'Your next essay is going to be on Dostoyevsky', so you go, 'F**k, I've got to read all his work in Russian.'

"Having been addicted to books, it put me off reading for about three years, which was a real identity crisis. It's like if you work at a chocolate factory - you don't want to see a Twix ever again.

"Luckily, I distracted myself by suddenly getting pregnant and once you've got a baby you don't really have time. Now I always travel with at least six books because I get panicky if I don't have another one ready."

The 42-year-old actress has books stashed all over her home and sometimes thinks she has to keep her passion hidden, much like an alcoholic resorts to extreme measures to conceal how much they are drinking.

She told Stylist magazine: "I've got no choice - I wake up, brush my teeth, open a book. My house is full of books. They're under the bed, my daughter's bed, we've got a whole closet full... I'm a hoarder. There are certain bookshops I'll go to and buy 15 books and they'll say, 'That'll keep you going' and I'll think, 'S**t, I can't come in here now.' It's like being a drinker!"