Since rising to fame as a heartthrob of 2000s rom-coms, Hugh Dancy has successfully transitioned into one of the most exciting and sought-after dramatic actors of his generation. Born in England in 1975, he cut his teeth on London stages before landing the breakthrough role of David Copperfield in the television film adaptation of the same name.

Following floppy-haired turns in Ella Enchanted, The Jane Austen Book Club and Confessions of a Shopaholic, Dancy garnered critical acclaim for his portrayal of the brilliant yet tormented criminal profiler, Will Graham, in NBC’s hit psycho-thriller series Hannibal. Other notable roles include a charismatic cult leader on Hulu’s The Path, a politically ambitious Earl on Channel 4’s Elizabeth I miniseries, and a fiery DA on NBC’s Law & Order revival.

Sharing 10 of his all-time favorite books with NY-based bookstore One Grand, Dancy included classics by Charles Dickens, P.G. Wodehouse and Patricia Highsmith alongside Karl Ove Knausgård’s modern masterpiece My Struggle. Explore his recommendations below, and check out the bookshelves of other celebrated actors here.

Hugh Dancy’s Reading List

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

“When I need to read something that I know will fill my imagination, lift my spirits and also be effortless, I go to Dickens, and this is the most preposterously, comically overflowing of them all.” -HD

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

“Nobody has ever written like D.H. Lawrence (except bad imitators, and nothing’s more embarrassing than knock-off Lawrence. Sometimes he’s pretty embarrassing too). This novel transports you.” -HD

Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth (also rec’d by Bruce Springsteen)

“The most anarchic, provocative, lewd and brilliant Roth novel. It feels like it’s on fire.” -HD

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (also rec’d by John Cleese)

“I was recommended this when I was a teenager trying to figure out how to start reading ‘serious’ books. Great recommendation, because on the surface it’s nothing of the sort, but it is brilliant.” -HD

My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgård (also rec’d by Jeremy Strong, Jo Nesbø & Mark Duplass)

“In part because reading the first two gave me the unsettling sensation of knowing what it’s like to be someone else better than I know what it’s like to be me, and in part because including it might force me to read the remaining four.” -HD

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (also rec’d by Jim Jarmusch & Laurie Anderson)

“You could spend years on the first chapter alone, in fact people have. But in a good way. There’s so much going on and so much reinvention it’s bewildering.” -HD

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

“Raymond Chandler is one of life’s great pleasures, ideally in a bath with a drink in hand.” -HD

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

“Forced to pick a single sci-fi novel I’ll go with this because, in ways even beyond most sci-fi, it is so far ahead of its time. You’re left believing entirely in the worlds she’s imagined, including a better version of this one.” -HD

The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology by P.G.Wodehouse

“I know that on and off I’ll be reading this until I die.” -HD

The Tremor of Forgery by Patricia Highsmith

“I could pick almost any of her novels—Deep Water would be another. This one is typically masterful in the way it measures out information and suggestion, laced with a growing sense of dread. And a great title.” -HD

(via One Grand Books)

Looking for an Amazon alternative? Support local, independent booksellers by shopping Hugh Dancy’s reading list – and hundreds of other celebrity book recommendations – through Radical Reads’ Bookshop page.

Categories: Actors