Rob Morrow's Bookshelf
By W. Somerset Maugham
Maugham used the life of Paul Gauguin as the basis for this novel. The character of Charles Strickland, like Gauguin, is a banker who feels compelled to create art even though it's going to destroy his family. I read this book just as I was getting serious about acting, and for that reason, it was very important to me. Maugham's prose is beautiful and economical—he didn't need to show off. He just needed to tell his story and reveal his characters and explore his big question: What is genius?