From dazzling poems to a panoramic nonfiction classic to a profound—and subversive—American history (one he's developing as a TV series), the star of Oliver Stone's W corrals his all-time favorite titles.
I've always loved what reading does for me. It's my solace—being taken by what somebody has written, what they created from scratch. I appreciate getting a different perspective. You tend to become myopic if you're sticking to your own interests. That's why I love my job, because with each new project, suddenly a different perspective is forced on me. To prepare for the role of George W. Bush, I read 18 books, and now I know a lot more than I ever cared to know about the Republican Party. Yet I've also discovered things I appreciate about it that I'd otherwise never have known. So when I hear a person say, "No, I'm a Democrat—I can't feel that way, I can't try to see things from that point of view," I think, "Why not?"

The more I read, the more I think about the question that a lot of us were asked as a kid: If you could have a dinner with 10 people, who would you choose? You know the one—where people always picked Jesus and Gandhi. With reading, you're able to have that dinner over and over and over, depending on what books you choose.

As told to M Healey
Josh Brolin stars as George W. Bush in the film W and appears in the film Milk. His documentary television series, The People Speak, will air in 2009.


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