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Great writers are great readers. And they have amazing stories to tell. Not just about the books they write, but about the books they read.
Anne Strainchamps and the producers behind “To the Best of Our Knowledge” have been asking authors for years to tell a story about that one book that left a mark. A book they can’t forget. A book that changed everything.
Now they’re sharing their stories with you, delivered in this micro-podcast.
"White Fang" by Jack London is a classic outdoor adventure story about a wild wolf-dog's struggle to survive in the Yukon Territory during the 1890's Gold Rush. Writer Quan Barry read it for the first time at age 11 and learned just how powerful a book can be. More
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain is one of the most controversial books in the American literary canon, particularly because of its frequent use of the N word. But for Enrique Salmon, a young Native kid trying to master the English language, “Huckleberry Finn” was the book that launched his lifelong love of reading.
Every year, at holiday time, "H is for Hawk" author Helen Macdonald reads this tale of a boy who finds out he's one of the "old ones," part of a series from author Susan Cooper. She says it reconnects her with a sense of wonder inspired by what might lurk beneath the surface of the seen world.
Ebony Thomas is the author of “The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games.” For her the most important word in that title is "imagination." She believes that without imagination we can't change the world because we can't see it. We can't daydream a better world into existence. It's why she's always identified with another literary daydreamer — Anne of Green Gables.
A girl, a horse, and a magical sword save a kingdom in Robin McKinley's young adult classic, "The Blue Sword" — a book beloved by women of all ages. "Hild" author Nikola Griffith explains why.
There’s a book that author Ada Calhoun thinks of as both one of her favorites to read out loud with her son, as well as one that has inspired her own writing. It’s “A Street Through Time: The 12,000 Year Journey Along the Same Street ” — a story of one street, leading the reader through historical events and the passage of time, with the street itself starring as the main character.
Journalist Malcolm Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work, and when it comes to better understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns over and over to criminologist Frank Zimring.
Nature writer and adventurer Robert Macfarlane has given away one book more than any other volume. It's "The Living Mountain," by Scottish writer and poet Nan Shepherd.
For decades, Stanley Crouch has cut a singular path through American culture as a cultural critic and an intellectual mentor to jazz figures like Wynton Marsalis. For all of his intellectual virtuosity, we were still surprised to discover the book that Crouch wanted to recommend: Alejo Carpentier’s “Reasons of State.”
What was a favorite childhood story? What do you think it reveals about you?
Has a book ever precipitated a life-changing realization, about yourself or someone else?
Is there a book you’ve hated – but can’t stop thinking about?
Is there a book that’s shaped your spiritual life — that opened a door to a new reality?
Has a book ever sparked a personal passion or obsession?
What book have you reread more than any other? Why?
Is there a book you consider a talisman, or a sacred object?
Tell us a story about it! Leave us a voice message or send us an email — we might use your story here.