one grand books

James Whiteside’s 10 Favorite Books

Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images

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 American Ballet Theater’s principal dancer James Whiteside’s list.

Fosse by Sam Wasson

Bob Fosse is one of my favorite choreographers. This book is a dark and fascinating biography of the man who gave us Cabaret, Sweet Charity, and Chicago, among others.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

This novel explores the oft-confusing social mores and prejudices of humankind, all while following a Mars-born human male’s first trip to Earth. I found it incredibly relevant to the America that I’ve grown up in.

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh

This comprehensible and comprehensive look at the mysteries of the Big Bang theory sated my curiosity for physics.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This relentless peek into the lives of four friends affected me more than any book I’ve ever read. Its brazen honesty and relatability has me thinking about it years after I read it.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This is perhaps the most poignant fantasy novel I’ve ever read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, this is the series for you; a wizard’s tale as poetry.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This provocative work should be required reading, as it challenges everything one thinks one knows about the history and future of humanity. I was riveted, irritated, and ashamed. The author’s catty tone also makes this an amusing and eye-opening read.

Just Kids by Patti Smith

This lyrical tale of two friends in cultural heyday New York City elicits nostalgia for a time I didn’t even experience firsthand. As an artist, this story speaks to me on many levels and inspires me to be honest, shameless, and creative.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

This is the second installment of Card’s wildly popular Ender Quintet. It is by far my favorite in the series. It challenges xenophobia in a compelling, poetic, and beautiful way.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A classic in scientific writing, this work illuminates the mysteries of the universe. If you have any interest in physics, pick this up!

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

This book introduced me to my imagination. Its flare for the absurd and nonsensical is perfect for any age. The illustrations are iconic and inspired much of my childhood drawings.

James Whiteside’s 10 Favorite Books