Morgan Freeman recommends

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Respected actor and narrator, Oscar winner recommends his favorite fiction books that cater for all ages and tastes.

“Rita Hayworth and theShawshank Redemption” by Stephen King

Morgan Freeman said in the interview that it his his favorite book.

-from interview to

This novella is as well-known for the screen adaptation as for the fact that it differs so strikingly from King’s fiction writing of horror. It’s not that horror doesn’t happen in a 1930’s prison, but there’s a pair of redeeming characters (Red and Andy DuFresne) who make reading the novel an absolute delight. Red offers contraband and advice, while Andy systematically works through establishing his own reputation as a man who is to be trusted. Despite horrifying conflicts with the notorious and predatory Sisters, a hypocritical warden and his violent guards (and a strict parole panel), Andy and Red battle their inner and outer demons to reach for freedom.

“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville

“I would recommend different books to different people. For a young person I would say Moby Dick.”

-from conference on

Melville is a talented (if long-winded) author whose masterpiece remains the story about an elusive whale, and its mad pursuer, Captain Ahab. The narrator is not the only character with an exotic Biblical name (Ishmael), and there are as many themes to be had as fish in the sea. Moby Dick is a strangely destructive whale, who seems to take delight in capsizing and destroying the life of whaling vessels. Captain Ahab’s thirst for avenging his lost leg and ship prove to be his undoing. He makes a strange figure, teetering about his own ship on a leg made from a whale’s jawbone, and seeking the prophetic mutterings of a harpoon crew member for clues on Moby Dick’s location. Reading between the lines of whale oil and prophecy lies a fascinating tale of the nature of good and evil – and madness.

 “Great Expectations” by CharlesDickens

“For a more romantic person I would recommend Great Expectations.”

-from conference on

Often touted as one of Charles Dickens’ best books, this is also one of his darkest novels, with the fewest realized expectations of happy endings. Suffering loss is taken in one of three ways by the principal characters. Miss Havisham uses the loss of her marriage as a reason for living in a self-imposed tomb of a house, and training the beautiful Estella into a man-trap. Joe the blacksmith absorbs losses, and turns them into reasons for having compassion. Pip, the central character and classic orphan, comes to the realization that loss of his hopes and dreams doesn’t mean that life is not worth living.

“Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell

“For the very young reader I would recommend Black Beauty.”

-from conference on

One of the best books for children and adults to read, Sewell’s classic is as much about people and animal abuse, as it is about the fortunes and hard-luck times of a beautiful horse. His early life, in a meadow and then with Squire Gordon, is a delightful adventure. Being sold to an Earl starts a domino effect of bad times and worse masters, as Black Beauty works through broken bones and mistreatment, and watching a friend die under the cruel lash of a cab driver. Just as Beauty seems ready to fall under the weight of despair, he is allowed to reconnect with his origins, as good times begin again.

“Absalom, Absalom!” by WIlliam Faulkner

One of the favourite books that Morgan Freeman keeps in his library and sometimes rereads.


Neil deGrasse Tyson recommends

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American astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson about books he recommends to read before you die

  The Bible

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

“The Age of Reason” by ThomasPaine

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

While Paine’s writings may be esoteric for modern times, fans such as the Infidels swear that this is one of the the best books ever written. Paine himself is as famous for his time in a French prison, and his work with Samuel Adams, as he is for this treatise against organized religion as a tyrannical fraud. His early declaration of his own mind as the only necessary church sets the tone for the work, which focuses on every man’s right to make up his own mind, and not have it made up for him by others. Paine is very logical and persuasive in his wish to see a religious, as well as a political, revolution in the United States.

The Prince” byNiccolo Machiavelli

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Also included in Best Leadership Books According To Donald Trump

Called everything from “ruthless” to “masterpiece” over its checkered publishing career, civil servant Machiavelli’s posthumous work can be bundled on a reading list with the Art of War for true insight on how to build power and decimate enemies. (Perhaps this is also why Donald Trump has added “The Prince” to his reading list of books leading to success.) Though the advice was meant for the Medici ruling family in Italy, the principles can still hold true, or at least shed a light on how to weave through the murky waters of politics.

The Art of War” bySun Tzu

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Also included in Best Leadership Books According To Donald Trump

Sun Tzu’s ancient work began on book lists as a necessity of military strategy, and has become a necessary addition to business book lists as well. The US Marine Corp and intelligence units still recommend this work on their book lists. It emphasizes excellence, the strategic use of deception, and the psychological nature of winning a war before battle begins. Those wanting a leadership book won’t be disappointed by Tzu’s insights into the “wise general”, and those wanting a treatise on business tactics can also make great use of tips on strategy, and appearing to be what you’re not.

The System of the World” byIsaac Newton

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Though it’s easier to find someone who knows Newton’s three famous laws of motion than one who has read through his book (also titled ‘Principia’), that doesn’t mean that this classic work on science isn’t worth reading. He borrowed from other science giants such as Johannes Kepler, and the multi-talented Galileo Galilei. However, his understanding of gravitational pull and the motion of the planets is truly amazing, especially when you consider that he worked out the revolution of the starry spheres via mathematical formulas, well before any photos were taken of these planets – and before gravity was universally accepted.

“On the Origin of Species” byCharles Darwin

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Also included in Anthony Hopkins Favorite Books

Though some of the theories are a bit dated, Darwin’s pinnacle of writing has garnered him many book recommendations – in his own century and beyond. Legal battles have raged over Darwin’s explanation of the wide-reaching implications of natural selection, and many species’ struggle for mere survival. Much is written (and lamented) about the sequence of fossils and various imperfections in the records of geology, and there are many insights on the variety of species and their adaptations. This is certainly one of the best books to read for those wanting a clear look at the origins of modern evolutionary theory, including Darwin’s compilation of others’ research along with his own, and the complex nature of the human eye.

“Gulliver’s Travels” byJonathan Swift

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

The first story, by the morose Lemuel Gulliver, is the most well-known. The fierce but tiny Lilliputians are determined not to be over-awed by their captive’s size, but his use in battle against the nefarious Blefuscu people (who crack eggs the wrong way) is overshadowed by Gulliver’s social crimes against the Lilliputians’ castle. His next sailing trip to the Brobdingnag giants also ends badly, after he’s made a national curiosity. The Laputa researchers seem to have genius for experimentation but no common sense, like Gulliver, who becomes captain of a crew who mutinies against him. Gulliver then studies the wise horses (Houyhnhnms) who rule over human slaves (Yahoos), and draws conclusions about England’s colonies. Reading this novel is fun, on the cynical side.

The Wealth ofNations” by Adam Smith

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

If John Maynard Keynes is the father of the modern system of commerce, Smith is the father of American free trade economics. Those wishing to see a return to gold and silver as the monetary standard should definitely be reading this book, along with those who believe that tariffs and governmental restrictions keeps any nation’s GNP from booming. There are affirmations of industrial-age wisdom (chop up production into small and repeatable parts), the nature of scarcity in wealth-building, and the advantages of competition without the restraint of either monopolies or slavery-inducing taxes. Freedom, opines Smith, lies with a people who restrain governmental work to building national defense and order, infrastructure, and the promotion of education.

Martha Stewart recommends

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photo: Buttontree Lane

American TV personality gives 2 book recommendations

“To The White Sea” by JamesDickey

-from interview to

Fans of Deliverance will be pleased that this follow-up work, per the Independent, has an even greater emphasis on overcoming the primal savagery – of humans. Muldrow the American tailgunner gets shot down over Japan, grabs a compass and a kitchen knife, and starts moving northward. If Jack London let slip quite a few hints on survival in difficult conditions, Dickey expands on these themes, from making camouflage and flint fires to killing a rabbit – or an enemy insurgent. There is a POW escape, there’s life philosophy from Zen monks – in short, the Coen brothers were on to a good idea when they tried to turn the book into a film.

“Cutting for Stone” by AbrahamVerghese

“Cutting for Stone” is beautifully written and an excellent summer read.”

Matha Stewart on her personal web-site

Since Verghese had a praying mother and worked in the medical field for much of his life, it makes sense that the two principal characters of ‘Cutting for Stone’ include a hard-working nun from India and a bold British surgeon. The cross-cultural currents of India and Britain produce two twins fascinated by medicine, and the story jockeys between the Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, to New York City in the United States. Ownership and slippers, and the long-term meaning of charitable works, are encapsulated by this novel that explores the meaning of life and love and home.

Johnny Depp recommends

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photo: Asim Bharwani

Jonny Depp about his favorite fiction

“A Portrait of the Artist as aYoung Man” by James Joyce

Rather than take up paints and easels, Joyce’s self-portrait in prose gives a picture of his growing up years in Dublin through an alter ego. Stephen Dedalus struggles against his religious training and upbringing, working equally through guilt and aesthetic allure. From political wranglings over Christmas, to becoming accustomed to boarding school, this novel and semi-biographical work has the appeal of a byegone era and a coming-of-age story. It has been listed on many Top 100 lists, from the board picks of Modern Library to Tumblr’s 100 Books bucket list.

 Fear and Loathing in LasVegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” by Hunter S.Thompson

Johnny Depp in introduction to “Blow By Blow” by Ted Demme

While Thompson’s words provide half of the book’s appeal, the contribution of illustrator Ralph Steadman cannot be denied. Film fans of The Hangover will appreciate the crazy style of the book – or the film starrring Benicio del Toro and Johnny Depp. Adventures of all types occur, especially including a trunk full of mind-altering substances and alcohol. The foggy interchanges between Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo were mostly based on Thompson’s two weekends spent with Oscar Zeta Acosta, gathering information for Rolling Stones, regarding the tear gas grenade that brought about the death of journalist Ruben Salazar.

“Fierce Invalids Home From HotClimates” by Tom Robbins

–from interview to Fox News

If J.D. Salinger’s creation Holden Caulfield had met Ignatius J. Reilly as an adult, and they had teamed up for crazy adventures, it might approach Switters and his adventures with Sailor the Parrot in South America. Trekking through the Amazon in designer wear, Switters gets introduced to the End of Time shaman, who admonishes against travel by foot. Wheelchairs and stilts are the answer, along with many shameless puns and renegade nuns. There is truly nothing that this colorful, pacifist undercover agent with a gun will not try, including a stepsister seduction and a great deal of self-deception.

     “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

“Kerouac – anything at all by ol’ Jack… On The Road beingthe Bible.”

Johnny Depp in introduction to “Blow By Blow” by Ted Demme

While the art of Vagabonding may have become currently popular via Rolf Potts’ addition to travel junkies’ favorites list, Jack Kerouac was the voice of the 1960’s and 1970’s wanderlust. The many adventures of Kerouac and friend Cassady (transmuted into characters Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise) are sprawlingly chronicled in a series of comments and descriptions, with no particular beginning and no particular end. For those who want social commentaries on economics, feminism, and racism, this book has it. Expansive descriptions of American life, culture, and attitudes are all here, along with the freedom of wide open spaces. Those trying to find a plot adhering to an outline may have trouble reading this.

Larry King recommends

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photo: CNN

Interviewer №1 about the books that he loves

                  “The Brass Verdict” by Michael Connelly

“I read every crime novel by Michael Connelly, who I think is the best.”

Larry King on

Between his two most popular characters, the dour detective Harry Bosch and brash attorney Mickey Haller, Connelly has hit on a definite Book of the Times. Murder brings the two characters together, who dislike each other based on similarities rather than opposite characteristics. Haller has inherited a dead attorney’s cases, and Bosch is in charge of finding out why he died. Haller must find out whether or not a new high-profile Hollywood client is hiding information, and Bosch has to find out if Lincoln Lawyer bait will bring the sharks into the open.

                  “One Summer: America, 1927” by Bill Bryson

Larry King on

1927 was a busy year, between the Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh, a great baseball season with Babe Ruth, and the strangled husband of a Queens Village housewife. Ruth Snyder later took up temporary residence in Sing Sing. However, politicians such as Calvin Coolidge seemed to take things easy, while others had to clean up from a disastrous flood in Mississippi. This era of Al Capone’s sharp and illegal dealings and ‘talking’ pictures shares space with bankers’ decisions in Long Island that brought on the Great Depression. If anything, Bryson’s book proves that the former glory days had much of our current age’s trouble and action.

                  “Life Itself: A Memoir” by Roger Ebert

Larry King on

After over twenty years of film critique, and after a bout with thyroid cancer, Ebert launched out into the world of autobiography. From journalism in the small town of Urbana, Illinois, Ebert traces his steps forward into the Chicago Sun-Times and co-authorship with Russ Meyer on the cult film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Some of the usual fare exists, from alcoholism and marriage to politics and religious views. Movie buffs will enjoy the personal anecdotes of John Wayne and Martin Scorsese, and life philosophers will be interested to hear a critic’s thoughts on the importance of happiness.

                  “Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger

Larry King on

Also recommended by Haruki Murakami, Bill Gates

Catcher in the Rye is undoubtfully a classical work of the American literature and is very popular in “Top 10 books” lists. This novel was the peak of J.D. Salinger’s career, as after it was published, he decided to live a life of a hermit. The main character being an expelled student named Holden Caulfield, the book is a first-person story written in the accordingly stylized language. Though he is just 16, he encounters many events that tend to preclude adults. Catcher in the Rye is about a youth of 1960-s,but it is still actual today.

                  “How to Overthrow the Government” by Arianna Huffington

“Every elected official should be forced to read it.”

Larry King

Quoting sections of the Declaration of Independence, Huffington moves beyond political commentary toward encouraging a shift away from the status quo of a divided and ineffective government. Moral and political decay have become indistinguishable, and this President and Chief Editor of the Huffington Post urges citizens to restore power to a government that better reflects the wishes of the people – rather than the elite. Both campaign finance reform and civil disobedience are reviewed and detailed, with pointers toward existing groups of activists already engaged in anti-establishment work.

Anthony Hopkins recommends

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photo: Elena Torre

The prominent actor recommends books on belief and about people who believe.

“Letters and Papers from Prison” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

–from interview to

While the Diary of Anne Frank may be a good highlight into the life of a normal teenage girl imprisoned in the horror of World War II, Bonhoeffer’s letters are a good insight into a man imprisoned for his stance against Hitler. The Lutheran pastor, having been locked up for his resistance work to assassinate Hitler, writes unguardedly to others about the world, the church, and Christianity in simple but eloquent terms. Reading this controversial work of a pacifist-turned-activist may be more enlightening when perused alongside his other classics, including Cost of Discipleship and Life Together.

“Ideas And Opinions” by AlbertEinstein

–from interview to

As if the name of the author weren’t enough, this may be one of the best books to read for insight on the famed physicist himself, along with the theories that launched him into the public eye. More than just an outline of atomic energy or the nature of relativity, this book delves into background philosophies that makes the realm of science worthwhile: interconnection, politics, community values, discoveries, moral standards, and ideals. The collection of published works, speeches, and letters shines a light on parts of human existence that remain affected by, if not driven by, scientific endeavors.

“The Great Gatsby” byF. Scott Fitzgerald

Also recommended by Chuck Palahniuk, Haruki Murakami

The Great Gatsby, the crowning achievement of the literary career of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is set in the Jazz Age, that is, 1920s. This is the story of Jay Gatsby, very wealthy and powerful billionaire, who is in love with Daisy Buchanan. As almost every man of power, Gatsby likes to throw luxurious parties, gather the Beautiful People in his house. The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of XXth century literature.

   “The Ascent of Man” by JacobBronowski

–from interview to

Bronowski’s work is applauded in its book recommendations by the Humanists of Utah, right alongside Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species – but for different reasons. The succinct historical summaries remind readers of the author’s adherence to the precision of mathematics, and the writing ability reminds readers that the author was a great fan of the poet William Blake. From the visible stone and marble arches of the Greeks and the Romans, to the invisible effects of imagination turned visible (such as alchemy experiments and the nature of atoms), Bronowski shows that his work is worth reading – not just watching on the BBC.

   “Monsignor Quixote” by GrahamGreene

–from interview to

For those who like the softer side of Graham Greene’s imagination, this would be one of his best books. While Greene’s descriptions of the whisky-flavoured priest in The Power and the Glory may grate on readers’ sensibilities, this priest fondly believes himself to be a descendant of the famous chivalrous Cervantes character, Don Quixote. After rendering kindness to an Italian bishop’s car and stomach, the priest is promoted to Monsignor status. He promptly goes on a Quixote-style roadtrip, complete with an ex-mayor who becomes his Sancho Panza, and enlightening discussions on religion and Communism ensue.

 “On the Origin of Species” byCharles Darwin

–from interview to

Also mentioned in 7 Books To Read Before You Die According To Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Though some of the theories are a bit dated, Darwin’s pinnacle of writing has garnered him many book recommendations – in his own century and beyond. Legal battles have raged over Darwin’s explanation of the wide-reaching implications of natural selection, and many species’ struggle for mere survival. Much is written (and lamented) about the sequence of fossils and various imperfections in the records of geology, and there are many insights on the variety of species and their adaptations. This is certainly one of the best books to read for those wanting a clear look at the origins of modern evolutionary theory, including Darwin’s compilation of others’ research along with his own, and the complex nature of the human eye.

Steven Spielberg recommends

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photo: Casa de América (flickr)

Award-winning director and producer talks about the books he loves

The Last of the Mohicans” byJames Fenimore Cooper

– from an article on

Before the film became famous in this century, Cooper’s historical work put American fiction on the map of history. Set at the time of the French and Indian War, contrasts abound between high-society Britons, rugged frontiersmen, and two Native American tribes. Between scenes of capture and pursuit, Fort William Henry stands as an embattled symbol of safety and defense. However, hidden racism emerges, along with questions of marriage and family, and the sacrifice that accompanies tribal membership.

                  “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Steven Spielberg named “Treasure Island” his favorite children’s book

– from an article on

Stevenson wrote a boy’s adventure with pirates when opportunities for finding buried treasure were growing increasingly rare. Not a few drunkards die, journals and maps lead to a secret island, and a mutiny results in a nighttime battle that leads to Jim the cabin boy recapturing (and then losing) control of the ship. The moral end of the story is that bad money comes to bad ends, but the hair-raising adventures in between start and finish are a tribute to Stevenson’s own somewhat lackluster obedience to work and duty while longing for freedom.

Ellen DeGeneres recommends

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photo: ronpaulrevolt2008 (flickr)

One of America’s most popular comedians and TV-hosts speaks about the books that inspire her

“TheArt of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein

– Ellen on her personal web-site

For those who wish to see life through their dog’s eyes, Stein has created a philosophical dog who examines television shows and contemplates the racing life of his master Denny Swift. If Lassie were given the ability to type out her thoughts about a grown-up little Timmy and his troubled family dynamics, Enzo just might count as a grandson or near relative. Inspiration for the author both came from his SCCA license, and a Mongolian tradition that the dog can reincarnate into a human.

 “The Four Agreements: A PracticalGuide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz

– Ellen on

Also recommended by Jack Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey

Four practices are all you need for a better life, insists Ruiz, and millions of readers have agreed with him. Seven years of being on the New York Times bestseller book list is quite an achievement, for a book describing just a few lifelong changes that need to be made: verbal integrity, questions without assumptions, a refusal to personalize, and making the best happen. As a surgeon with spiritual roots in the deep heart of Mexico, Ruiz weaves both practices in and out of this work. It has been promoted by Spiritually Fit Yoga and by Oprah, at the top of her favorites self-help books list.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

– Ellen on

While critics didn’t think much of Tartt’s 860-page novel, she won a Pulitzer Prize and the admiration of Stephen King. The story is seen through the eyes of a traumatized teenage boy in charge of a priceless painting; Theo Decker escapes from an exploded gallery, and takes the advice of a dying man who gives him a contact for restoration and a signet ring. In the aftermath, readers are assured of the transcendence of art set against the fragility and brokenness of humans trying to piece their lives back together.

“Change Your Thoughts – ChangeYour Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao” by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

– Ellen on

As a motivational speaker, Dyer adds on ‘spiritual guru’ to his list of accomplishments with his explanation of 81 verses by Lao-Tzu the Chinese philosopher. The balance of morality and goodness on The Way are meant to be digested slowly, day by day; some of the exercises, such as giving away unnecessary gadgets or avoiding gossip and slander, can be especially helpful in our modern lives. Readers may not want to read this book in the spirit of strict accuracy to historical or Buddhist texts, because the value lies in the general application of overall principles

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer

– Ellen on her personal web-site

Also recommended by Anderson Cooper

This Holocaust-era novel has ended up on New York Times book lists frequently, perhaps because of the pathos of the nine-year-old protagonist. Having lost his father in the World Trade Center bombing, Oskar becomes a street urchin playing a tambourine. Critics in the New York Times claimed that Oskar was a conglomeration character, made up of equal parts of Holden Caulfield and Herzog. Fans such as Salman Rushdie and the L.A. Times claim that the novel is explosively moving, and Oprah made it an addition to her reading list, saying that the page breaks of blankness forces the senses awake. The book is truly explosive – Oskar’s life seems to center around violent actions such as bombings. (His grandparents survived a bombing of Dresden in World War II.)

Obama recommends

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The 44th President of the United States of America about the most significant books in his life. Here is his book list

“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

“Song of Solomon” ends up on many to-read book lists because of the author’s 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, and because the book itself won the prestigious National Book Critics Fiction award in 1977. Somewhat like the James Joyce classic “Ulysses”, this book combines historical elements, free association, and unanswerable questions in the life of its main character. Beginning with a suicide and a black child’s birth into a Michigan hospital, Morrison explores the complicated role of black family life, its heritage and its possible future. Though the poetic style remains the same as some of her other works, such as “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye”, Morrison stretches herself in this novel by using a male perspective.

                  “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Although essays aren’t as popular as when Emerson was alive in the mid-1800’s, this essay has become one of the author’s most notable achievements. Emerson’s works have graced many other famous writer’s reading lists, from Emily Dickinson to fellow poet Thoreau. Emerson’s philosophy as expressed in “Self-Reliance” embraced a combination of non-conformity to social trends, and the belief that what made one’s own heart beat faster was a universal trait. Also a great believer in the ‘light within’, Emerson gives continual nods to a divine Providence while holding fast to man’s inherent goodness, and the necessity of holding to one’s own convictions despite the inclinations and pressures of the crowd.

  “For Whom the Bell Tolls”by Ernest Hemingway

One of Hemingway’s most celebrated novels, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is an adventure story of almost mythic proportions. It has made more than a few book lists, from the American Library Association’s ‘most banned classics’ to the Modern Library’s top 100 novels of the 20th Century in English. The protagonist, a teacher named Robert Jordan, finds love and battle in the Spanish Civil War. Pilar, one of the most influential and passionate characters (though not the love interest), displayed the ‘Everyman’ fierce peasant spirit and embodied the name of the author’s fishing vessel. Hemingway wrote what he knew from his first-hand experience in that war, as well as World War I, in which he was injured while driving an ambulance.

 “The Federalist” by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

This book is made of a series of essays on the validity and necessity of the United States Constitution, though it is more commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers. To shield the authors from political backlash, the original publication showed Roman pseudonyms for Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. The reasoning behind political phrases in common use today, such as “checks and balances” and “bill of rights”, are worked out in 85 numbered works, from turf wars between states (8) and the economic advantage of unified states (13). This work has been making itself known on book lists since its inclusion in the New World Book List of 1890.

  “ThePower and the Glory” by Graham Greene

While the main character in Graham Greene’s novel “The Power and the Glory” hasn’t lived the pure life of Jesus, his experiences while on the run in Mexico provide an eery similarity to his Lord’s sufferings. The nameless priest shows quite human flaws, with a daughter from a past love affair and a current drinking problem, while the antagonistic lieutenant (an atheist) appears more as a reverse Javier from Les Miserables. Greene personally suffered his way through a two-month research tour in Mexico, according to John Updike’s New York Times review in 1990, but the result still shows up on must-read book lists, from Oprah’s book club to one of Barack Obama’s favorite books.

“FDR” by Jean EdwardSmith

While many books have been written about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, focusing on his struggles with polio and foreign policy, not many have been written by professors at Marshall University or condensed into one volume. FDR’s relationships with women, from his strong and confident mother to his secretary (to his love-interest, Lucy) are covered just as well as the Japanese internment camps and the dynamics of the New Deal. FDR shows up as a must-read on book lists, from the favorite book of interior designer Norman Kreiss to the Amazon best seller book list. Smith has shown up on the Pulitzer Prize nomination list, for a previous work on another former President (Grant).

“The Quiet American”by Graham Greene

Also recommended by Anderson Cooper

Partly a mystery, partly a social commentary. Greene’s book belongs on mystery, history, and social commentary reading lists. Ostensibly, it’s about a love triangle between an American, an Englishman, and an Asian woman. Behind the human tragedy is the tragedy of the French Indochina war, which served as a precursor to the Vietnam War. The first chapter describes Pyle the American as learned in books and political philosophy, in contrast to Phuong the Asian woman who is unaware of even the biggest movements of the outside world, and the underlying issue of the opium trade.

Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

– Barack Obama

This illustrated adventure book has been making book lists almost since publication. Sendak’s classic won the Caldecott Medal in 1964, as the year’s Most Distinguished Picture Book for children. It’s easy to see why. Max is a very relatable child who wants to dominate his environment, especially his mother. In a fantasy land of fearsome beasts, he is allowed to tame and conquer the way he would never be allowed to do at home, eventually becoming their honored king after a battle of wills. Google honored this 17 million seller, and favorite book of children worldwide, by showcasing a Wild Things illustration (or “doodle”) on June 10 of 2013.

Bill Clinton recommends

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photo: Mou-ikkai (flickr)

Top books to read according to one of the most influential politicians in the USA of the 21st century

 “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ” by Stephen Covey

– Bill Clinton

Covey’s business classic has been making CEO one of top books to read since its publication in 1989 – it has sold around 15 million copies. Getting rid of the urgent, and expanding the list of important but non-urgent tasks, should be on every busy leader’s mind. Covey’s emphasis on making lists and creating new lasting habits isn’t new, but the illustrations and emphasis on cultivating inner character traits (such as personal responsibility rather than a winning personality) tend to be remembered long after reading time is over. While critics claim that the book is too simplistic in outlook, applying the principles of First Things First, listening before speaking, and teaming with other leaders can take a lifetime to fully implement.

“Lincoln”by David Herbert Donald

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

The most asked question about President Lincoln comes down to this – how did he rise from grinding poverty to world-influencing power? Using personal letters and a winning style, David Herbert Donald deserves a spot on any history student’s book list by emphasizing Lincoln’s decision-making ability while underlining his humanity and many oversights in judgment. Personal matters such as Lincoln’s family and marital relationships are woven in, though they aren’t the focus so much as the background. The history, tendencies, and outcome of Lincoln’s decisions surrounding the Civil War are examined with a careful eye to detail, along with little-known facts about Lincoln’s leadership of the Illinois bar.

 “The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations” by MarcusAurelius

– Bill Clinton

Called a “must-read” by Steve Forbes, and praised for its manly tone of translation by Jacques Barzun, this book may become as much of a business classic as Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”. The emphasis on personal virtue despite others’ inclinations or pressures, reality versus fantasy thinking, and viewing obstacles as the road to improvement, are just as applicable now as in the second century A.D. Other readers who added this Aurelius work to their reading lists include the former leader of the US Ethics office (Stephen Potts), a former director of the CIA (Admiral Turner), and a Yale history professor. Hillsdale Academy included this book in its recommended summer reading list for students.

   “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

Also mentioned in 6 Books That Everyone Must Read. Paulo Coelho Recommends

This winner of a spot on the Oprah reading list is focused on time and family. The small town of Macondo, begun by Jose and Ursula Buendia, is affected if insulated from the rest of Colombia and the world. Marquez explores human issues, from solitude to politics and poverty, from the perspective of five generations of the founding family – while the dangers from without become the dangers from within. Written in a vivid poetic style, English professor Kiely of the New York Times called this book an overwhelming mix between idealism and practicality. This may also be an accurate description of the author’s childhood in a small Colombian coastal town, fed fantastical stories of ghosts and soldiers by his grandparents.

“LifeIs What You Make It” by Peter Buffett

– Bill Clinton

Also recommended by Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon


Though the author bears such famous last name, Buffet, he claims that he hasn´t inherited much from his parents, concerning materialistic issues. He was gifted with a family philosophy: “Everybody must find his own way in this life”. This warm, mind broadening, and inspirational book asks every reader, what will he choose: the way of least resistance or the way greatest satisfaction? In some sense this is the life story of Peter Buffet himself.

“TheImitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis

Bill Clinton has put this book on a list of the books that have been the most influential in his life (the list made by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company).

Five hundred years after writing his mystical meditations, Kempis’ work is still included on modern reading lists of philosophy professors (such as Dallas Willard) and non-profit organizations alike (such as Joshua’s Way). Classic Christian living themes are explored, from the knowledge of truth to the dangers of temptation, along with the necessity of a proper perspective on death and judgment. Despite the heavy-sounding topics, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library promotes this work on its books list as “gentle”, with an emphasis on the lovingkindness of the Almighty.

“KingLeopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa”by Adam Hochschild

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

Hochschild’s book may shed equally shed light on a forgotten historical figure (King Leopold II) as well as an English teacher’s favorite on high school reading lists: Heart of Darkness. The late 19th century monarch of Belgium cleverly built up a political reputation for altruistic works, while creating an economic stranglehold on the Congo. Natural resources of ivory and rubber were taken at gunpoint, along with forced labor from terrified villagers. Meanwhile, help was extracted via clever lobbying of the United States government for the abolition of the slave trade. Hoschild points out the freedom fighters who contributed to bringing the truth about Leopold’s reign to the world, from missionaries to shipping agents.

The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker

Bill Clinton has put this book on a list of the books that have been the most influential in his life (the list made by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company).

Describing the earth as an immense burial mound or wasteland of fertilizer, Becker points out man’s desire and inability to rise above the knowledge that he is mortal. Animals only have this knowledge momentarily, while humans must struggle with their abilities and inabilities along the road to the grave. Becker’s favorite reading list includes authors such as Søren Kierkegaard and Otto Rank, whose ideas crop up frequently in Becker’s assertion that the overwhelming reality of man’s terror of death is often overcome by the fiction of religion, or the temporary distractions of life.

TheWay of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-first Century” by David Fromkin

Bill Clinton listed this book as one of his top choices in “Today” show on NBC.

The role of leaders pushing unremittingly for progress is one of the themes of Fromkin’s work, which seeks to explore one of man’s fundamental questions: where did we come from to get here? High school and college students needing to expand their reading lists may be attracted to the small size of the book, and those with an extensive book list of favorites may be attracted by the author’s Pulitzer Prize nomination. In under 300 pages, Fromkin moves through the biggest highlights of the ancient and modern world, from Socrates to Copernicus to Thomas Edison, from an agricultural to an industrial society.

“Nonzero:The Logic of Human Destiny” by Robert Wright

Bill Clinton has put this book on a list of the books that have been the most influential in his life (the list made by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company).

In the gaming world, having one winner that necessitates one loser is a zero-sum game. Wright asserts that life on Earth is more complex, with some combinations resulting in a win on multiple fronts, or losing in many categories. Using historical examples beyond the Crusades, Wright brings out the idea that history is truly moving toward a destination point beyond mere orderly chaos developed at random – that nearly limitless information and the global era are ahead. Readers whose favorites list include “Guns, Germs and Steel” may see intriguing similarities, but devotees of Stephen J. Gould may not appreciate Wright as an addition to their reading list.

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