Bookseller One Grand Books has asked celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and they’ve shared the results with Vulture. Below is actor Michael C. Hall’s list. You can see Hall in season two of The Crown which premieres December 8 on Netflix.
My Dinner With Andre, by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory
This screenplay, a dialogue between an all-too-human aspirant and an imperfect guru, is unabashed, hysterical, grave, and unencumbered by irony or cool. Two men bound by their contemporary urban world and reaching for the transcendent over dinner on the Upper West Side. The road map for a singular film.
Stoner, by John Williams
The story of William Stoner, English professor, an unremarkable man by the standards of his world (early 20th-century Missouri). Its plain and unerring truth is astonishing. Though undemonstrative and remote, I experience such a quiet and sublime intimacy with the protagonist. It’s a perfect novel.
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
It’s WORTH it. When I finished, I finally felt like I was ready to start. And did. His intellect is beyond beyond, but Wallace’s heart and instinct burn just as brightly. It’s a breathless and elliptical colossus of a book. (Don’t be discouraged by the footnotes! Just use two bookmarks.) I wish DFW were still here to break it down and distill the current moment, though IJ prophesizes it …
A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley
This novel, based on the story of King Lear and set in an Iowa farming community in the late 1970s, has a phenomenal narrator. Ginny never betrays her voice; she’s initially naïve and always straightforward. Yet she manages to drop deft charges of insight on virtually every page. A devastating and gorgeous account of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, toxic masculinity, corrosive secrets … and an abiding heroine.
Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer
This clear-eyed inquiry contrasts the stories we tell ourselves about food with the reality of factory farming. Beautifully written and never proselytizing, Foer’s book is committed to a comprehensive assessment. It fortifies my commitment to veganism as much as anything I’ve encountered.
Sex and Death to the Age 14, by Spalding Gray
This compilation of Gray’s earliest monologues is heartbreaking and hilarious. Encountering the neuroses and contradictions Gray lays bare in this work gave me a permission I hadn’t yet been given: to accept and even celebrate mystery, mortality, and imperfection. To encounter these pieces is to be Gray’s vital witness. He needs you.
I Remember, by Joe Brainard
This book is a gem. A memoir in the form of free-associative prose poetry, it’s deceptively simple and spare. Brainard’s collage of matter-of-fact remembrances creates a rich and tender portrait of the writer, his time and place, and magically mirrors the reader’s equivalent humanity.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel
This graphic memoir is about becoming an artist, repression, liberation, death, the dichotomous feelings between parent and child … “Fun Home” takes you on a journey into the rich murkiness of Bechdel’s past. The fusion of her writing and illustrative skill make for a singularly vivid encounter. Devastating, hilarious, inspiring.
I Hate the Internet, Jarett Kobek
With blatant disregard for what it “ought” to be, this book is simultaneously exhilarating and devastating. It’s propelled by an ecstatic and acute rage that unmasks the insidious, mendacious, and pervasive web of technology, gentrification, racism, sexism, celebrity worship.
White Girls, by Hilton Als
These pieces are in their own unconstrained category. Als stokes the fires of contradiction and then carries you into the blaze. His luscious mind is somehow bold and keen enough to keep you from burning. Then, as your mind marvels, he shoots you through the heart. Again and again.