Actor Jesse L. Martin shares his favorite books.
The Law and Order actor is blown away by Shakespeare and Zora Neale Hurston, awed by Quincy Jones and Langston Hughes, and moved by great black history.
As a child, I was fortunate enough to be close to family members who were—and still are—great storytellers. I was a gullible country boy from Rocky Mount, Virginia, and I believed every folktale they told me, no matter how fantastic. I remember one called "The Letter Carrier." In it, small children are warned away from the letter box because that's where the mailman comes, and he's really a slave catcher who finds children and takes them farther down South to sell as slaves. It was our bogeyman story. It was our entertainment. And most important, it was a way to get us to go to bed. But these narratives also fostered a love of reading, writing, and language, and a suspension of disbelief. I'm now taking some of the tall tales, expanding on them, and attaching them to real-life situations—writing my own stories based on the ones I heard back then.

Jesse L. Martin appears in the movie version of Rent.

What's on Jesse L. Martin's Bookshelf? Read more!

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