Celebrity Book Club: Reading Picks From 12 Literary Stars
Michael Chabon, Jennifer Egan, Nick Hornby and more reveal their nonfiction faves.
Click on each author's name for the full interview.
Which book do you reread most often?
- Frank Rich
Act One by Moss Hart
"It's at once a suspenseful Horatio Alger story and a vivid evocation of 1920s New York, from the poorest immigrant tenements uptown to the glittery heights of golden-age Times Square."
- Michael Chabon
The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
by John Clute and John Grant
"A single, immense, thrilling work of literary theory disguised as a reference book."
- Susan Orlean
The Looming Tower
by Lawrence Wright
"A vivid explanation of the world we now live in with regards to Islamic fundamentalism, and a great read. Not a cheerful book, but a brilliant one."
- Jennifer Egan
The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin
"Published in 1961, it's spectacularly prescient on the implications of image culture."
- Bill McKibben
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
"It's as rich and unbottomed as Scripture."
Which book do you foist on all of your friends and relatives?
- Daniel Handler
(a.k.a. Lemony Snicket)
How to Cure a Fanatic by Amos Oz
"A thoughtful, optimistic, and witty treatise on solving problems in the Middle East. Also, it's short, and I believe if one is foisting books they ought to be easily foistable."
- Andrew Bacevich
The Irony of American History
by Reinhold Niebuhr
"Published in 1952, it remains the most insightful book ever written about US foreign policy, as relevant today as it was when it first appeared."
- Vendela Vida
by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
"LeBlanc followed two Latina girls in the Bronx over the course of 10 years. It's a work of journalism, but you feel you're seeing the drug dealers and boys and babies that populate these girls' lives through their own eyes."
- Nick Hornby
This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff
"It was one of the books that taught me how to write. I give it to them because it's beautiful, funny, and tough."
- Cory Doctorow
Twelve Hours' Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old
by Suzy Giordano and Lisa Abidin
"Took two hours to read (why the hell are so many books for new parents 3,000 pages long?), didn't involve doing anything crazy or heartbreaking, and had our daughter sleeping through the night. By about the 12-week mark."
What's the most underrated book you've read?
- Natalie Angier
Einstein in Love by Dennis Overbye
"Overbye somehow manages to bring both the physicist and his transformative but daunting physics alive. Even with his flaws revealed, Einstein remains a man of extraordinary achievements and an immortal core."
Photos: Counterclockwise from top: Fred R. Conrad/New York Times; Reto Caduff; Gaspar Tringale; David Shankbone; courtesy Bill Mckibben; courtesy HarperCollins; courtesy Boston University; Heidi Meredith; Joi Ito; Darryl Estrine; Joe Mabel/Wikipedia Commons