American actor, comedian, and filmmaker Bill Hader caught his big break back in 2005, when he landed a coveted role as cast member on NBC’s long-running Saturday Night Live. Over his eight-year-stint on the show, Hader’s talent for celebrity impressions shined, and the slew of iconic characters he created – including Stefon, a flamboyant New York tour guide, and Vinny Vedecci, a loudmouthed Italian entertainment show host – made him a firm fan favorite.

Following his SNL success, Hader took on a number of supporting roles in comedic and dramatic films alike, while also working extensively in voiceover acting. In 2018 he created the HBO black comedy crime drama Barry, in which he stars as a depressed veteran turned hitman who moves to LA and gets caught up in the world of showbiz. Praised for its writing, directing, originality, and humor, the series has received 44 Emmy nominations to date, with Hader winning two for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

An avid reader with a penchant for true crime, comedy, and tales of classic Hollywood, Hader discussed the books of his life in a 2014 interview with the New York TimesFrom Capote to Capra, find his reading recommendations below.


Rock Springs by Richard Ford

Vanity Will Get You Somewhere by Joseph Cotten

Raven by Tim Reiterman

Descent of Man by T. C. Boyle

The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn

What I’d Say to the Martians by Jack Handey

What in God’s Name by Simon Rich

Bossypants by Tina Fey (also rec’d by Gloria Steinem & St. Vincent)

Mindsploitation by Vernon Chatman

“Vernon Chatman wrote a book called Mindsploitation, where he found these online companies that will do your homework and sent them impossible assignments. Their responses are like Dada art.” -BH

My Dead Dad Was in ZZ Top by Jon Glaser

Norwood, Masters of Atlantis & The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

“Charles Portis has written three unbelievably funny novels: Norwood,  Masters of Atlantis and my personal favorite, The Dog of the South. He’s best known for True Grit, which is a much-deserved classic. But you gotta check out his other work.” -BH

Live From New York by Tom Shales and James Miller

“I think most current cast members, the day they find out they’ve been hired, run out and buy that book to see what’s in store for them. I know I did.” -BH

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin (also rec’d by Bill Nye, Trevor Noah & Weird Al)

“I would recommend that to anyone starting out not only in comedy, but performing in general. If I’d read that book in high school I would’ve gone into comedy sooner, I think. It’s very inspiring.” -BH

Homicide by David Simon

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (also rec’d by David Bowie, Henry Rollins & Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean

Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore

A Wilderness of Error by Errol Morris

Popular Crime by Bill James

“The baseball writer Bill James recently wrote a book called Popular Crime, where he explores several high-profile cases and how they affected the American psyche. It’ll make you feel like less of a creep, because James is obsessed with this stuff and seems pretty stable.” -BH

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (also rec’d by David LynchJoan DidionNorman Mailer & Philip Roth)

Light in August by William Faulkner (also rec’d by Colin Firth & Stephen King)

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (also rec’d by Patti Smith)

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

“A terrific account of Hollywood in the ’40s, when things start to go south for the studios.” -BH

The Parade’s Gone By… by Kenneth Brownlow

“The best history of silent film.” -BH

Who the Devil Made It & Who the Hell’s in It by Peter Bogdanovich

How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime by Roger Corman

The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb

Picture by John Huston

Conversations With Clint by Kevin Avery

Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers by Simon Louvish

Sergio Leone by Christopher Frayling

The Name Above The Title by Frank Capra (also rec’d by David Lynch)

Elia Kazan & Conversations with Scorsese by Richard Schickel

My Life and My Films by Jean Renoir

The Emperor and the Wolf by Stuart Galbraith IV

Images by Ingmar Bergman

Conversations With Wilder by Cameron Crowe

Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson

Tenth of December by George Saunders (also rec’d by Miranda July & Phoebe Bridgers)

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

Bunnicula by James Howe & Deborah Howe (also rec’d by R.L. Stine)

“The first series I was obsessed with.” -BH

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (also rec’d by Kim Gordon & Lin-Manuel Miranda)

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

“The first adult novel I read, and this is a favorite memory of mine, resulted from my grandfather — who was a voracious reader — taking me to Novel Idea in Tulsa, Okla., to pick up a book for school. As we headed to the checkout line he said, ‘Why don’t you pick out something to read for pleasure?’ I went to the Young Adult section, and he stopped me: ‘No, no. Go to the Fiction section.’ I was 12, and this was a big deal. The Fiction section is where all the books with sex and bad language lived. I self-consciously browsed the aisles, careful to avoid unwittingly picking up Fear of Flying or something, until I came to a paperback with a spooky cover. The title: Salem’s Lot. Description: Vampires in a small town run amok. Written by the guy who wrote that movie where the girl gets blood dumped on her, so she destroys her tormentors with her mind. ‘This one,’ I said. Lying under the eaves in my attic bedroom, devouring that story (Danny Glick at the window!) is a feeling I try to recapture every time I read a book.” -BH

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (also rec’d by David BowieFlorence Welch, Neil Patrick Harris & Rose McGowan)

“One of my favorite books that people recently love to trash is A Confederacy of Dunces. I think it’s one of the funniest books ever written, but I come across more and more folks who find it vastly overrated. I don’t know if I just hang out with contrarians or if it’s some latent backlash. I’m such a nerd for that book, I want to go to New Orleans just so I can take the Confederacy of Dunces Tour.” -BH

(via The New York Times)