I have always been one of those people who had questions about everything—and books have certainly helped me indulge that fascination. Books have not only helped me see the world through other people's eyes, they have actually fostered my love of journalism. My favorite books transport me to some new world, but I find that they also reflect the qualities I admire most in the craft of writing—clarity, elegance and a certain care.
As someone who makes her living with words, I know what a challenge it can be to capture the right ones. I love finding novels, biographies or histories whose authors put words together in surprising ways. Mark Twain once wrote: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
Most of my reading now is related to my work. I wish I had more time to read for pure escape. Looking back over the books that have influenced me, I realize they are stories that reflect my interest in people and places—both real and imaginary—and offer answers to some of my questions.
Paula Zahn is a news anchor for American Morning and the host of People in the News, both of which are on CNN.
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From the July 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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