The star of the new TV show FlashForward loves stories of survival against all odds, novels that blow his mind, and, of course, his mother's memoir, which includes one of the bravest lines he's ever read.

By Hermann Hesse

This book has a mystery and a magic—it's rather like a great German Expressionist painting, with a very dense, dark palette. By day, the protagonist lives as a bourgeois divorcé, but in the night, he becomes what he calls the wolf, free of all social conventions. It was startling to see his two natures battle within him: the animal and the spiritual, the human and the transcendent. I read it as a teenager, and it sort of blew my mind with questions I hadn't pondered before.

A last word: I'd also put one of Hesse's other novels on this list: Siddhartha. It's a great one to pass on, and it paved the way for allegorical books like Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist.


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