Over a career spanning more than 40 years, world-famous magician David Copperfield has amassed 21 Emmy Awards, 11 Guinness World Records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, knighthood in France, and Living Legend status by the Library of Congress. As the most commercially successful illusionist in history, he believes the secret to putting on an unforgettable show is in the storytelling:

“Telling memorable, affecting stories is what I’ve strived to do my whole career. Anyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat. But how did the rabbit get in the hat? What’s he hiding from? Whose hat is it? Why a hat? How long has it been there? That’s what makes an effect memorable, engraving a story into it. (By the way, I’ve never pulled a rabbit out of a hat.)”

In a reading list for One Grand Books, Copperfield selected ten titles by “writers who know their way around a narrative, and who tell it beautifully.” From Leo Tolstoy to Stephen King, find his favorites below. Complement with the bookshelves of Penn Jillette and Neil Patrick Harris.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (also rec’d by Bruce Springsteen, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth & Susan Sontag)

“As good as they say. Tolstoy is a cardiologist. The man knew everything about the human heart. It’s all on display here.” -DC

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (also rec’d by Alice WalkerColin KaepernickMaya Angelou, Nipsey Hussle, RATM & Richey Edwards)

“Ralph Ellison’s classic about race, racism, cruelty, hypocrisy, and the need for the truth is more relevant now than ever.” -DC

Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

“The late, great Sidney Lumet takes you by the elbow and tells you how he did it. Another great tour of the creative process by one of our greatest directors.” -DC

Without Feathers by Woody Allen

“Woody Allen is so funny and brilliant, I feel the astonishment I hope my audiences feel — I keep asking myself, ‘How does he do it?'” -DC

Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu by Simon Callow

“Welles is one of my heroes. Callow diagrams every aspect of this great artist’s life like a sentence.” -DC

Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim (also rec’d by David Byrne)

“The man who gave us ‘West Side Story,’ ‘A Little Night Music,’ ‘Sweeney Todd,’ and so many other acts of brilliance discusses his influences, his approach to his craft, why things work and don’t work, etc. He takes you on a guided tour of his creative process. How often do you get to stroll through the mind of a genius?” -DC

How to be a Ventriloquist by Paul Winchell

“I grew up watching Paul Winchell. Years later he became a friend. I have his vent figures in my museum. Ventriloquism is what got me into magic. This book takes me back to my childhood.” -DC

Carrie by Stephen King

“I love Mr. King’s work, and this is not just a great horror/sci-fi story, it’s about the price people pay for being different, and about bullying, and parenting. As relevant as ever.” -DC

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (also rec’d by Vincent van Gogh)

“Okay it’s technically a novella. But what a story of redemption! Told by the past master of characterization and narrative. Dickens rules.” -DC

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (also rec’d by Bill Maher)

“I didn’t know this existed until my parents took me to ‘Man of La Mancha.’ What a book! Funny and sad at the same time and insightful about the human condition.” -DC
Categories: Artists