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 The Man Who Invented Christmas star Dan Stevens’s list.
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
I’ve had Whitman’s voice in my head since I discovered him as a teenager. I return to him again and again: “Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” Yes, please.
Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
As an adventure story, as acidic satire, and as a document on humanity, this work has never been beaten.
Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela
The most inspirational text to be published in my lifetime. It taught me as much about man as about my wife’s homeland.
Portrait of the Artist As a Young Dog, by Dylan Thomas
The lyrical drinker and Welshman crafting evocative stories of a magical land, filled with poetry. Stories like “Who Do You Wish Was With Us?” are painfully beautiful.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Probably my favorite novel by another great social satirist. So rich in character and so profound in its scope on society.
The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus: All the Words, by Monty Python
Everything I ever needed to know about anything is in this book. I can pick this up at any time, open to any page and be giggling in seconds. It’s the urtext for so much silliness.
The Illustrated Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, by James George Frazer
This book has fascinated me since I was a child. I’m always dipping into it and finding new things. Some of his Anglocentric conclusions date horribly, but the material gathered gives a magical insight into the people that have populated our planet and the rituals we observe. The illustrated edition was a later discovery and it’s an ethnographic treat.
Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, by Annie Dillard
Geoff Dyer put me on to this book. Dillard has the most captivating style; wandering and interrogating the natural world and our relation to it with skillful and delicate prose.
Iron John: A Book About Men, by Robert Bly
A vital, poetic meditation on men and masculinity. Essential reading as the patriarchy crumbles.
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
I’ve loved these sweet, silly, philosophical dialogues for years and now that my eldest daughter is discovering them they make me smile all over again.