Neil Patrick Harris discovered the joy of reading as a child, when he started working at a small bookshop in his New Mexico hometown at the age of 10 or 11. But it wasn’t until he first picked up Paolo Coehlo’s extraordinary international bestseller The Alchemist by chance at an LA mall, that he discovered just how magical and life-changing a book can be:

I’ve never, ever encountered a book that would so consistently have me read a passage and be so moved and changed that I would just set the book down and think about what I just learned. It’s a remarkable tome. I’m also kind of awed by how it came into my life. I often feel like books find us for reasons, and we read them when we need them the most.

In a list of his top 10 books provided to NY-based bookstore One Grand, Harris included The Alchemist, along with many other transportive works of literary fiction. Read on for his favorites.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“This book is magical. It is so densely packed with the most astute, illuminating, and thought-provoking prose, but so beautifully woven together that you have no choice but to savor each message.” -NPH
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (also rec’d by David Bowie, Florence Welch & Rose McGowan)
“This book is hysterical. Toole fleshes out his characters with such exquisite detail that you completely know them (whether or not you want to).” -NPH
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
“This was one of my favorites growing up. It’s such a wonderfully written, bittersweet story, and perhaps the first time I was fully transported into another world by reading.” -NPH

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“I’m not over this book. It’s so twisty and turny and exciting and scary and creepy and addicting. I’m a fan of interesting or unusual structure; this book, with its dual (and often conflicting) narrators, makes such excellent use of our own expectations of standard structure to keep the reader on their toes. Gillian Flynn is brilliant.” -NPH

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

“Oh, what a fun whodunit! A classic.” -NPH

S. by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst

“I hesitate to even call this a book — it’s almost more accurate to call it a book-themed puzzle. I just love the game of it, and the presentation. JJ Abrams, building a world within a world within a world.” -NPH

Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

“Truly, anything Roald Dahl. We read them all the time growing up. Just the right mix of absurdity and sweetness. Right now, as a father I’m feeling Danny, Champion of the World as it is a lovely insight into the father/son relationship.” -NPH

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

“And my kids and I love this book. It’s not easy for an illustrated picture book to hit that sweet spot, where it is fun for the both the kids and the parents to read, but this this one does it. Charming and silly, this ridiculous book is a joy.” -NPH

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (also rec’d by Shonda Rhimes)

“I love this book. I love it for the experience of reading it and for what it stands for. The skill in which Harper Lee so lovingly blended a wonderful story with real issues that needed attention has made this one of the best books of all time.” -NPH

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear by Jim Steinmeyer

“Jim Steinmeyer is the ultimate authority on the history of magic. In this book he offers a peak behind the curtain of one of the most beloved acts of magic, all while maintaining a respect for the magician’s code. A fascinating and entertaining read, especially if you are interested in magic.” -NPH

(via One Grand Books)

Categories: Actors Comedians

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