New Yorker Amy Poehler

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Amy Poehler
"When I was growing up, I was a voracious reader; I loved sitting in my house and jumping into new worlds. But more important, I loved meeting new people. Reading was a way to make friends or enemies, a way to discover how all these different people exist in the world and to rub shoulders with them." —Amy Poehler, actress and comedienne

Books that made a difference to Amy Poehler:

I Like You by Amy Sedaris 

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Away by Amy Bloom

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

New Yorker Jay-Z

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"When someone puts words to feelings you have, it's like, 'Wow, that's exactly what it is.'" —Jay-Z, rapper and mogul

Books that made a difference to Jay-Z:

The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

The Odyssey by Homer

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Nigger by Dick Gregory

New Yorker Nora Ephron

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Nora Ephron
"The state of rapture that occurs when I read a wonderful book is one of the main reasons I read, but it doesn't happen every time, or even every other time, and when it does, I'm truly beside myself with joy." —Nora Ephron, writer and director

Books that made a difference to Nora Ephron:

Personal Velocity by Amy Bloom 

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing 

The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope 

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Emma and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

New Yorker Liz Smith

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Liz Smith
"I grew up Texas-style, listening to Walter Winchell on the radio, yearning for bright lights or something undefinable. My education came largely from the local movie theater, which saved my life during the Great Depression. Having learned early on to read anything the Fort Worth Public Library would let me take out, at age 16 I stumbled onto two books that changed my life." —Liz Smith, author and gossip columnist

Here's how Liz Smith read her way out
New Yorker Samantha Bee

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Samantha Bee
"I'm a little obsessed with stories about middle-aged men who can't grow up. I'm interested because I don't want to be blindsided by aging. I don't want to wake up one day and say, 'Wait a second! Who is this person looking back at me?'" —Samantha Bee, The Daily Show correspondent and author

Books that made a difference to Samantha Bee:

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer

The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

New Yorker Natalie Portman

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Natalie Portman
"I studied psychology in school, and the best psychology is in literature. It's so much easier to understand a character than a theory. You can recognize yourself—or other people—in a different way." —Natalie Portman, actress

Books that made a difference to Natalie Portman:

The Ministry of Special Causes by Nathan Englander

Sun Under Wood by Robert Hass

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

What Is the What by Dave Eggers

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
New Yorker Felicity Huffman

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Felicity Huffman
"The truth is, my only hobby is reading in bed with tea. I come by it naturally—reading in bed is one of my mother's favorite pastimes, too." —Felicity Huffman, actress

Books that made a difference to Felicity Huffman:

Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating

Like Family by Paula McLain

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Your Self-Confident Baby by Magda Gerber and Allison Johnson

New Yorker Gwyneth Paltrow

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Gwyneth Paltrow
"Last year when I had a birthday party, I told my friends that I didn't want fancy presents—just for each of them to bring me a copy of their favorite book and to write on the first page why it's so special to them. It was a wonderful night, and I had so much fun discovering what my friends thought about each book." —Gwyneth Paltrow, actress

Books that made a difference to Gwyneth Paltrow:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
New Yorker Ethan Hawke

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Ethan Hawke
"The great power of literature is to expand our vision. Go Tell It on the Mountain is a case in point. You feel as if Baldwin bled over this book, that this book hurt to write. It's not a memoir; it's somebody taking very real feelings and turning them into art. He writes evocatively, but you don't need to have a graduate degree to understand his books—you just need to have a heart." —Ethan Hawke, actor and author

Books that made a difference to Ethan Hawke:

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers by Larry McMurtry

Cruising Paradise by Sam Shepard

And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
New Yorker Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Philip Seymour Hoffman
"'Journalism always moves along a horizontal plane, telling a story,' Capote said in an interview, 'while fiction—good fiction—moves vertically, taking you deeper and deeper into character and events. By treating a real event with fictional's possible to make this kind of synthesis.' I feel like Joan Didion, who started out as a novelist, does that. Jon Krakauer and some of the other writers on my list do it, too." —Philip Seymour Hoffman, actor

Books that made a difference to Philip Seymour Hoffman:

The Sportswriter and Independence Day by Richard Ford

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
New Yorker Anderson Cooper

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Anderson Cooper
"Some people grow up in homes where sports are important; I grew up in a home where reading and writing had great value. As a child, I had a problem reading. I had a mild form of dyslexia where I would see some letters backward, and I had to go to a special reading instructor. One way she helped was to encourage me to find books that I was really passionate about." —Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor and journalist

Books that made a difference to Anderson Cooper:

A Death in the Family by James Agee

The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Families: A Memoir and a Celebration by Wyatt Cooper

It Seemed Important at the Time by Gloria Vanderbilt

The Journey Is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon edited by Kathy Eldon
New Yorker Diane Keaton

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Diane Keaton
"I was reminded of how inspiring books of photographs can be during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years ago. I literally stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the picture of a woman's back on the cover of a book called The Waking Dream. The photograph was taken in 1862, yet at that moment, the distance between the past and present collapsed." —Diane Keaton, actress

Books that made a difference to Diane Keaton:

Women Photographers edited by Constance Sullivan

Untitled by Diane Arbus

Photographs, Twenty-Five Years by Keith Carter

Photographs from Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans by E.J. Bellocq

Dreamland: America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Michael Lesy
New Yorker Liev Schreiber

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Liev Schreiber
"Books were a way of immersing myself in the world of an author. Because a writer gives a reader ownership of his story, you are allowed to feel as if you belong to something. I love the authors who share the knowledge that we're all in the same boat, especially when they do it with humor. They can, through a character or a scene, show you how absurd your own neuroses are. It becomes clear that while other people may look as if they're all going along well, they're likely to be just as neurotic as you are. That's very comforting." —Liev Schreiber, actor

Books that made a difference to Liev Schreiber:

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O'Toole

The Way to Freedom by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama of Tibet

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

The Shakespeare First Folio edited by Doug Moston

Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy
New Yorker Claire Danes

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Claire Danes
"I have friends who read entire novels in the bath, and I'm not like that—I don't zip through books. But I invest in them completely." —Claire Danes, actress

Books that made a difference to Claire Danes:

Deception by Philip Roth

Light Years by James Salter

Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
New Yorker Keri Russell

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Keri Russell
"The books I'm drawn to are like (Michael) Ondaatje's—lyrical and adventurous—and they capture the intricacies of human emotions and relationships." —Keri Russell, actress

Books that made a difference to Keri Russell:

The Measure of Our Success by Marian Wright Edelman

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook by Martha Stewart