Dive into the wonderful books that influenced and captivated celebrities like Rosamund Pike, Andrew Garfield, Ayo Edebiri, and Cillian Murphy.
They say that one can learn a lot about a person based on the kind of books they enjoy. This holds true in many cases, even with celebrities. In fact, quite a few stars are actually big readers and literature lovers. This makes sense, considering how the craft of storytelling is inextricably linked to their professions.
Looking for interesting books to add to your reading list, or simply curious about the kind of narratives that have captivated our favorite celebrities? Here are six book recommendations from some of the most famous celebrities today:
Rosamund Pike: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
It’s no surprise that the elegant and articulate Rosamund Pike loves books. The accomplished actress actually graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Oxford’s Wadham College in 2001.
In a video for the “Dior Book Tote Club,” Pike talked about her favorite books as she roamed the inside of Hatchards Piccadilly with great enthusiasm. She spoke highly of the late (and great) Joan Didion, whose 1968 essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem is among her favorite reads.
Didion’s prose is incisive, and many know her as one of America’s greatest writers. Her critically-acclaimed book Slouching Towards Bethlehem compiles pieces that capture the United States in the 1960s. More specifically, it captures the turmoil and counterculture of glimmering California. Together with other writers like Gay Talese, Didion was a progenitor of what people classify as “New Journalism”: a kind of journalism that incorporates more unconventional, literary techniques.
In her video for Dior, Pike describes Didion as “one of the most concise, pertinent observers of people.” The actress adds: “She was curious, and I think curiosity is where freedom lies and interest lies.”
Andrew Garfield: Upstream by Mary Oliver
Andrew Garfield is another literature lover among celebrities, with a taste in books as impeccable as his acting chops. The actor even revealed that he often travels with a suitcase of hardcopy books in a video interview for British GQ. “It was more just a feeling of home for me, wherever I was going,” he intimated in the feature “I start to get a bit anxious if I don’t have literature and great stories with me in some way.”
His favorite love story? Not a typical one. The star recommends American poet Mary Oliver’s collection of essays, Upstream, in an interview with Vanity Fair. The award-winning writer is famous for her works that explore faith and the beauty of nature. Upstream is another great addition to her oeuvre, exploring both the natural world and the craft she dedicated her life to. Indeed, Oliver has a gift for transforming the everyday into something spiritual.
“It’s about the love of life, the love of nature, love of the world […] but a love in solitude. She writes about love in such a mysterious way that I found very inspiring to read, about how she’s in love with a duck or a fox or a tree or a blade of grass,” Garfield shares in the Vanity Fair feature. “There’s something about being in love with the world that right now is really inspiring me.”
Margot Robbie: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
Multi-hyphenated actress Margot Robbie also expresses her love for literature in a “In The Library” video for Chanel. Among the many books that have captivated the Barbie and Wolf of Wall Street star is the very first piece of literature she consumed: J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit.
Robbie found herself enthralled when her grade school teacher read a section of it aloud in class one day. Not wanting to be left hanging, the young girl ran back home to read her sister’s copy of the book and got hooked—so began her love for reading.
The Hobbit has no need for introduction; it’s one part of a timeless series that people across generations have loved. Tolkein wrote as the famous fantasy book as a prequel to his legendary The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The writer’s prose is exceptional, as are his multi-dimensional characters and layered narratives, which showcase the writer’s brilliance. The British author, who also happened to be a linguist, even invented multiple languages for his fictional world. Those who want to delve into the beginnings of high fantasy should certainly add this classic to their list.
Cillian Murphy: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
Alongside Margot Robbie in her role as Barbie, Irish actor Cillian Murphy made waves with his titular role in Oppenheimer. Yet the star has always been a fantastic actor, and one who also has a close relationship with the literature that informs his craft. In fact, he’s starred in a number of works that were based on books. For instance, Oppenheimer’s source material is Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s biography American Prometheus. The actor has also starred in the theater production Grief is the Thing with Feathers, an adaptation of Max Porter’s award-winning novel of the same name.
In a video interview with the Rolling Stone UK, Murphy shares that he’s been filming an adaptation of Claire Keegan’s short novel, Small Things Like These—which he highly recommends. Set in Ireland during the 1980s, the novel addresses a little-known, distressing period in the country’s history where unmarried girls and single mothers faced mistreatment from the church, which had a tight grip on Irish society at the time. “It’s the simplicity of the story, the depth of the emotion, the way it speaks about Ireland in the 1980s,” Murphy expressed in the Rolling Stone UK feature.
Hozier: Inferno by Dante Alighieri
Irish singer Hozier’s newest well-received album, Unreal Unearth, takes inspiration from Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. So, it’s only natural that the book has a special place in the musician’s heart, as he discusses in a video for German book retailer Hugendubel. The singer read the book early into the pandemic, resonating with the theme of love in the midst of damnation.
The Divine Comedy, Alighieri’s trilogy that includes Inferno, is a staple of high school English classes, and for good reason. Many consider it a pivotal piece of literature that has shaped the world for centuries, inspiring brilliant artistic minds from Eugène Delacroix to Auguste Rodin (and now, yes, even Hozier).
At the center of the trilogy is the author himself, who journeys across the realms of heaven, purgatory, and hell. In Inferno, the Roman poet Virgil guides the writer through the nine circles of hell, each level filled with the compelling narratives of its sinners.
Ayo Edebiri: The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Last but not least in the list is a book recommendation from actress Ayo Edebiri, whose breakout role in FX’s The Bear won her this year’s Golden Globe for Best Actress in Television and Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. So, who wouldn’t trust the literary taste of one of today’s most talented, up-and-coming actresses? A 2022 interview with The Face asked Edebiri what book kept her reading late into the night, to which she replies The Idiot by Elif Batuman, which is one of her favorites.
Besides being a global bestseller, the novel made its way up to the list of finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. It centers around a young woman named Selin, a daughter of Turkish immigrants who makes it to Harvard. Readers follow her coming-of-age story as the student comes to terms with the confusing and exhilarating moments of early adulthood and first love.
Though as one would expect from someone as funny as Edebiri, the actress describes it as a story “about a girl who goes to college in Boston and learns so much she feels she’s stupid,” in her interview with The Face. She adds: “I related to that for many reasons that are probably not too hard to read into.” With a premise that hilariously intriguing, it’ll be hard not to pick up the book and give it a read.
Pedro Pascal: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Next in the list is a recommendation from Pedro Pascal, the American-Chilean actor whose popularity shot up even further for his roles in Game of Thrones and The Last of Us. In a 2014 Reddit AMA, the actor mentioned that he loves One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The complex and profound magic-realism novel by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez is another integral part of the literary canon with its rich imagery and wide cast of fleshed-out characters. The book is a long one, but ultimately a rewarding read for those who love fabulistic stories set in the real world. It’s here where fantastical and extraordinary elements like ghosts, supernatural powers, family members with the exact same names, and children with animal body parts, are all treated like casual occurrences.
Filled to the brim with symbolism and culture, the book follows the lives of the Buendia family across generations, making for an unforgettable journey steeped in Colombia’s history, politics, and culture. There’s a reason why the novel won Márquez the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1982. For those who want to start reading more Latin American literature, the trailblazing book is definitely a must-read.