Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

4 of 7
240 pages; New Directions
This collection of short stories by a master of magical realism "blew my mind," says Daniel Radcliffe. "When I read a good book, I sometimes like to think I might be capable of writing something similar, but never, in my wildest dreams, could I write anything that approaches the level of cleverness and intellect and madness of Borges. I don't think anyone could." His favorite? The Argentinean writer's short story "The Library of Babel" ("Borges proves that if you can write a story in ten pages, it doesn't need to be any longer"), in which he imagines an infinite library filled with every book written, not yet written, and every combination of words and letters in between. "The premise is that contained somewhere in these books is the meaning of life. So cults develop that walk through the library searching for it. The fact that Borges could start with such an idea—an infinite library, what would that involve?—and then take it to a logical conclusion is remarkable."
— As told to Naomi Barr