Books Recommended by Famous Authors & Journalists



We've been getting a lot of feedback from our readers asking for lists of writers and their favorite books. So here it is! Whether you're looking for some writing inspiration or just another good book to read, here's our first list of books recommended by famous authors and journalists.

Kara Swisher

American Technology Business Journalist and Co-Founder of Recode

Kara Swisher is an American technology business journalist and co-founder of Recode which is a technology news site that focuses on the business of Silicon Valley. She has written two books about AOL, runs several podcasts (like the popular Recode Decode) and contributes to the tech section of the New York Times Opinion section.

Swisher has been touted as “iconic” by the creator of the hit TV show, Silicon Valley, and apparently “layers charm and aggression to truth-serum affect”.

This boss-a** lady started reporting about tech in the early ‘90s and was already a veteran in the industry when the Web 2.0 generation was coming of age. She’s reported on some of the biggest news in tech such as Facebook Hiring Sheryl Sandberg and Google Trying to Buy Groupon(like damn girl, what an exciting time in tech). She met Jeff Bezos when Amazon was still a startup and Marc Andreessen when Netscape was about to IPO (Netscape is what brought us the World Wide Web so yeah, that’s a BIG deal).

Swisher is known to be very vocal about the underrepresentation of women at big tech companies #YAAASSS, scrutinizing Marissa Mayer and Yahoo, and unearthing the ethical issues surrounding TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s journalism. She is the Valley’s most loved and most feared journalist.

Check out Kara Swisher’s favorite books:

Sources Bio: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2014/07/kara-swisher-silicon-valleys-most-powerful-snoop.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Swisher Books: https://tim.blog/2018/06/21/the-tim-ferriss-show-transcripts-kara-swisher/ Images: TechfestNW
The Elements of Style (4th Edition) - William Strunk, E. B. White, Roger Angell (Foreword)

You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.This book's unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers.

Read More

Buy
Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays (FSG Classics) - Joan Didion

The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, decades after its first publication, the essential portrait of America―particularly California―in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

Read More

Buy
The White Album: Essays (FSG Classics) - Joan Didion

First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era―including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall―through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it.

Read More

Written with a commanding sureness of tone and linguistic precision, The White Album is a central text of American reportage and a classic of American autobiography.

Buy

Neil Gaiman

Sci-Fi Author of The Sandman, American Gods, etc.

Neil Gaiman has come up a lot on Wisebooks’ people lists (like Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber) which has some logic. They say a number of CEOs, founders, and makers are big fans of science fiction because it creates a habit of imagining things that don’t exist. What do you do as a founder or someone of the like? Create things that don’t exist. Maybe we should all be reading a little more Sci-Fi like some of Gaiman’s famous works: The Sandman, Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline ,The Graveyard Book, Good Omens, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Gaiman started his writing career with a number of different works such as publishing biographies of Duran Duran (if you haven’t heard of them, same; they’re a British Band) and Douglas Adams, the author of the very famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He moved onto comics and collaborations with Dave McKean, which led to their works being published by DC Comics.

His (as of right now) magnum opus is Sandman with 75 issues out (BTW it’s a comic book), and the first comic to ever receive a literary award at the 1991 World Fantasy Awards.

If he’s on your shelf, you might want to know which favorite books are on Neil Gaiman’s shelf:

Sources Bio: Books: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/t-magazine/entertainment/neil-gaiman-favorite-books-reading-list.html Images: Vulture
The Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe’s most remarkable work, hailed as “a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis” by Publishers Weekly, and “one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century” by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Read More

Young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, has been exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession—showing mercy toward his victim.

Buy
Lud in the Mist - Hope Mirrlees

"The single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century ... a little golden miracle of a book." - Neil Gaiman

Read More

Hope Mirrlees penned Lud-in-the-Mist--a classic fantasy, and her only fantasy novel--in 1926. When the town of Lud severs its ties to a Faerie land, an illegal trade in fairy fruit develops. But eating the fruit has horrible and wondrous effects. Helen Hope Mirrlees was born in England in 1887.

Buy
Archer’s Goon - Diana Wynne Jones

Fact: A Goon is a being who melts into the foreground and sticks there…When the Goon turns up demanding 'Archer’s two thousand', life turns upside-down. As Howard desperately tries to get to the bottom of this peculiar demand, he discovers that the town is run by seven crazy wizards (not all of whom live in the present!) and someone is trying to take over the world!

Read More

Buy
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England-until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Read More

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

Buy
London Labour and the London Poor - Henry Mayhew

An extraordinary work of investigative journalism, literature, and sociology, London Labour and the London Poor originated in a series of articles for a local newspaper and grew into a massive record of the daily life of Victorian London's underclass. By turns alarming, touching, and funny, the pages of London Labour and the London Poor exposed a previously hidden world.

Read More

Henry Mayhew conducted hundreds of interviews that provided a first-hand account of costermongers and street-sellers, of sewer-scavengers and chimney-sweeps, creating an intimate and detailed portrait that offered unprecedented insight into their day-to-day struggle for survival. Combined with Mayhew's comprehensive data gathering, these stories have an immediacy that owes much to his sympathetic understanding and effective literary style. This new selection offers a cross-section of the original volumes and their evocative illustrations, including among other features an introduction by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst that illuminates Mayhew's life and career, the genesis and development of the book, and its influence on contemporaries such as Dickens and Kingsley.

Buy
Horns - Joe Hill

Joe Hill's critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning debut chiller, Heart-Shaped Box, heralded the arrival of new royalty onto the dark fantasy scene.

Read More

With Horns, he polishes his well-deserved crown. A twisted, terrifying new novel of psychological and supernatural suspense, Horns is a devilishly original triumph for the Ray Bradbury Fellowship recipient whose story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, was also honored with a Bram Stoker Award—and whose emotionally powerful and macabre work has been praised by the New York Times as, "wild, mesmerizing, perversely witty…a Valentine from hell."

Buy
Alec ‘the Years Have Pants’ - Eddie Campbell

Brilliantly observed and profoundly expressed, the ALEC stories present a version of Campbell's own life, filtered through the alter ego of 'Alec MacGarry.' Over many years, we witness Alec's (and Eddie's) progression 'from beer to wine' — wild nights at the pub, existential despair, the hunt for love, the quest for art, becoming a 'responsible breadwinner,' feeling lost at his own movie premiere, and much more!

Read More

Eddie's outlandish fantasies and metafictional tricks convert life into art, while staying fully grounded in his own absurdity.

Buy
Bleak House - Charles Dickens

With an Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, University of Kent at Canterbury Bleak House is one of Dickens' finest achievements, establishing his reputation as a serious and mature novelist, as well as a brilliant comic writer. It is at once a complex mystery story that fully engages the reader in the work of detection, and an unforgettable indictment of an indifferent society.

Read More

Its representations of a great city's underworld, and of the law's corruption and delay, draw upon the author's personal knowledge and experience. But it is his symbolic art that projects these things in a vision that embraces black comedy, cosmic farce, and tragic ruin. In a unique creative experiment, Dickens divides the narrative between his heroine, Esther Summerson, who is psychologically interesting in her own right, and an unnamed narrator whose perspective both complements and challenges hers.

Buy
Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny

“Funny, wise, and infused with a sense of wonder and knowledge….Nobody else made myths real and valuable in the way Roger Zelazny could.” —Neil Gaiman

Read More

Lord of Light is a classic tale of the far future from the incomparable Roger Zelazny. Winner of the Hugo Award—one of six Zelazny received over the course of his legendary career, as well as three Nebula Awards and numerous other honors—Lord of Light stands with Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and Frank Herbert’s Dune as one of the seminal novels that changed the way readers looked at science fiction. Experience it and you will understand why New York Times bestselling sf author Greg Bear says, “Reading Zelazny is like dropping into a Mozart string quartet as played by Thelonius Monk.”

Buy
The Man Who Was Thursday - GK Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare is a metaphysical thriller that was first published by G.K Chesterton in 1908. The plot begins when Gabriel Syme first gets recruited to a secret anarchist division of Scotland Yard.

Read More

Heavy with both Christian and religious allegories, the book then follows Syme during his time spent in the division. Rife with optimism, The Man Who Was Thursday is a larger story strung together by solid writing and themes of faith. In this way, the book serves as a great, thrilling tale of transformation, which explores the notion of poetry, the written word and finding light in the dark.

Buy

Stephen King

King of Horror, Author of Carrie, The Shining IT, etc.

Stephen King is the guy that writes the books that get made into movies that make you scared of washrooms and the dark (a.k.a he writes freaky AF horror novels). More specifically, they say his genre is in horror, fantasy, drama, crime suspense, thriller, and other words along those lines.

His books have collectively sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into several feature films and television shows. And if it doesn’t fit into TV or film, someone finds a way to make it a mini-series (think Carrie, The Shining, IT, etc.)

After his graduation he was actually pursuing teaching among a number of other part-time jobs while writing in all of his free time. Two years later, the King of Horror sold his first novel, Carrie. If you haven’t seen it… don’t…. Unless you like cr*pping your pants. Its insane success allowed him to quit everything else and focus on full-time writing, and he starting pumping out book after book after book. He had so many ideas and even started publishing under pseudonyms out of concern that the public wouldn’t accept multiple books from the same author in one year.

See what Stephen King’s favorite books are:

Sources Bio: https://www.biography.com/people/stephen-king-9365136, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Stephen-King Books: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/114697.Stephen_King_s_Top_10_Favorite_Books_ Images: newengland.com
Lord of the flies - William Golding

Golding’s iconic 1954 novel, remains one of the greatest books ever written for young adults and an unforgettable classic for readers of any age. At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys.

Read More

At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued.

Buy
Ship of Fools - Katherine Anne Porter

This “dazzling” National Book Award finalist set aboard an ocean liner in 1931 reflects the passions and prejudices that sparked World War II (San Francisco Chronicle). August 1931. An ocean liner bound for Germany sets out from the Mexican port city of Veracruz. The ship’s first-class passengers include an idealistic young American painter and her lover; a Spanish dance troupe with a sideline in larceny; an elderly German couple and their fat, seasick bulldog; and a boisterous band of Cuban medical students.

Read More

As the Vera journeys across the Atlantic, the incidents and intrigues of several dozen passengers and crew members come into razor-sharp focus. The result is a richly drawn portrait of the human condition in all its complexity and a mesmerizing snapshot of a world drifting toward disaster. Written over a span of twenty years and based on the diary Katherine Anne Porter kept during a similar ocean voyage, Ship of Fools was the bestselling novel of 1962 and the inspiration for an Academy Award–winning film starring Vivien Leigh. It is a masterpiece of American literature as captivating today as when it was first published more than a half century ago.

Buy
Watership Down - Richard Adams

Watership Down is the compelling tale of a group of wild rabbits struggling to hold onto their place in the world—soon to be a BBC and Netflix animated miniseries starring James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, and Oscar and Grammy award-winning Sir Ben Kingsley.

Read More

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Richard Adams's Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England's Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

Buy
The Orphan Master’s Son - Adam Johnson

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling novel of North Korea: an epic journey into the heart of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship. Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the North Korean state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts.

Read More

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.” Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master’s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love.

Buy
The Hair of Harold Roux - Thomas Williams

In 1975 the National Book Award Fiction Prize was awarded to two writers: Robert Stone and Thomas Williams. Yet only Stone's Dog Soldiers is still remembered today. That oversight is startling when considering the literary impact of The Hair of Harold Roux. A dazzlingly crafted novel-within-a-novel hailed as a masterpiece, it deserves a new generation of readers.

Read More

In The Hair of Harold Roux, we are introduced to Aaron Benham: college professor, writer, husband, and father. Aaron-when he can focus-is at work on a novel, The Hair of Harold Roux, a thinly disguised autobiographical account of his college days. In Aaron's novel, his alter ego, Allard Benson, courts a young woman, despite the efforts of his rival, the earnest and balding Harold Roux-a GI recently returned from World War II with an unfortunate hairpiece. What unfolds through Aaron's mind, his past and present, and his nested narratives is a fascinating exploration of sex and friendship, responsibility and regret, youth and middle age, and the essential fictions that see us through.

Buy
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of 'the Brotherhood'...

Read More

...and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

Buy
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy

An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the 'wild west.' Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

Read More

Buy
1984 - George Orwell

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, his dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative is timelier than ever… Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes.

Read More

But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching... A startling and haunting vision of the world, 1984 is so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the influence of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Buy
American Pastoral - Philip Roth

Here is Philip Roth's masterpiece—an elegy for the American century's promises of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss. Roth's protagonist is Swede Levov, a legendary athlete at his Newark high school, who grows up in the booming postwar years to marry a former Miss New Jersey, inherit his father's glove factory, and move into a stone house in the idyllic hamlet of Old Rimrock. And then one day in 1968, Swede's beautiful American luck deserts him.

Read More

For Swede's adored daughter, Merry, has grown from a loving, quick-witted girl into a sullen, fanatical teenager—a teenager capable of an outlandishly savage act of political terrorism. And overnight Swede is wrenched out of the longed-for American pastoral and into the indigenous American berserk. Compulsively readable, propelled by sorrow, rage, and a deep compassion for its characters, American Pastoral gives us Philip Roth at the height of his powers.

Buy
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R Tolkien

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him.

Read More

After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

Buy

Susan Cain

Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

Susan Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking which argues that introverted people are undervalued in Western culture. Her TED talk on “The Power of Introverts” has more than 20M views and she’s the Co-Founder of Quiet Revolution which is all about empowering introverts.

And surprise, surprise! Cain is an introvert herself. On the Quiet Revolution site she says,“I prefer listening to talking, reading to socializing, and cozy chats to group settings. I like to think before I speak (softly). Until a few years ago, I was terrified of public speaking, and I am still amazed that such a giant fear is conquerable.”

Cain has an impressive curriculum vitae, one that might make you think, “Is this really that introvert lady?”. She is an ex-corporate lawyer, having represented clients like Goldman Sachs and General Electric. She has also worked as a negotiations consultant, having trained all kinds of people from hedge fund managers to TV producers. She’s the perfect example of how your nature shouldn’t limit you in any way and how people shouldn’t be pigeonholed into labels.

Cain’s favorite activities are reading, writing, lounging around cafés, and doing the mambo with my family. Speaking of reading, here are Susan Cain’s favorite books.

Sources Bio: https://www.quietrev.com/author/susan-cain/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Cain Books: https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts/reading-list Images: Quiet Revolution
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This book illuminates the kind of life we should all be living. Csikszentmihalyi argues that one of the highest states of being is the state of flow — when you’re totally engaged in an activity, riding the narrow channel between boredom and anxiety. I talk about this book a lot, and try to live by it even more. (Cain's Notes, TED)

Read More

Buy
Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins

(Or really any of Billy Collins’ poetry collections.) Collins, who was once the US poet laureate, says he’s an extrovert, but if his poems are any indication, he’s a homebody like me. He writes about exciting things like looking up words in the encyclopedia and walking to town for a gallon of milk... (Cain's Notes, TED)

Read More

...He’s charming and insightful, and I love his work so much that when I went into labor with our first child, my husband ran back to our apartment to bring one of Collins’ books to the maternity ward. He thought I should have it while we were waiting for the baby to come. (Cain's Notes, TED)

Buy
The Organization Man by William H. Whyte

If you have ever felt weird or out of step because you like to sit around and think, I can’t recommend these books enough. I read them while researching Quiet. I was trying to trace the history of what I call 'the extrovert ideal' — the Western bias for people who are alpha, assertive and gregarious — and devoured these books. (You’ll find them referenced in chapter one of Quiet.) (Cain's Notes, TED)

Read More

They were both written in the middle of the 20th century, a time when Americans were trying to break the shackles of their conformist, Happy Days culture. So what do these books have to do with our life today? Everything. You’ll see that things haven’t changed as much as we think. (Cain's Notes, TED)

Buy
Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter

In this award-winning classic work of consensus history, Richard Hofstadter, author of The Age of Reform, examines the role of social movements in the perception of intellect in American life.

Read More

"As Mr. Hofstadter unfolds the fascinating story, it is no crude battle of eggheads and fatheads. It is a rich, complex, shifting picture of the life of the mind in a society dominated by the ideal of practical success." --Robert Peel in the Christian Science Monitor

Buy
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Have you ever felt like an outsider? This is an acutely observed look at life inside a New England boarding school, as told from a public school kid from Indiana. I picked up this book the minute I heard about it. Like the Prep protagonist, I am not from a preppy background. But I went to Princeton in the 1980s, when it seemed that all the students were from elite private schools and possessed of a breathtaking savoir faire...(Cain's Notes)

Read More

….I thought my mother had taught me decent table manners, but my classmates had an elegant way of holding their utensils that would forever elude me. They also pursued mysterious passions, like trying out for 'crew,' a sport I had never heard of before. I thought they were competing to make extra money washing dishes at the dining hall, and couldn't figure out why they needed the cash. If you’ve ever felt like an outsider in a culture that initially seemed more dazzling than the one you came from (and even if you haven’t!), this is a great read. (Cain's Notes)

Buy

OTHER POSTS YOU'LL LIKE

Top 10 Must-Read Books

Top 10 Must-Read Books

Most recommended books on Wisebooks from notable people like Barack Obama, Marc Andreessen, and more.

Read more

Powerful Political Leaders

Powerful Political Leaders

Vladimir Putin, Justin Trudeau, Xi Jinping, Hillary Clinton, Tsai Ing-wen

Read more

Natalie Gray

Natalie Gray

(Exclusive Interview) Building & Designing Products Users Want with Head of Product & Co-Founder of Cover

Read more