In 2017, the iconic American actor, director and producer Tom Hanks published a short story collection, Uncommon Type, inspired by his passion for typewriters. Having starred in numerous movie adaptations of novels – from Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump to Stephen King’s The Green Mile and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas – it’s no secret Hanks is a fan of the written (or typed) word.

Asked about his reading habits in an interview with The New York Times, Hanks said:

I stack up the books, three columns six or eight books at a time, and just wear that pile down. And, when someone tells me they finally read a book they could never crack, I take a whack out of a sense of a challenge. That’s how I finally read Moby-Dick, the book everyone pretends to know…

For a list of his top 10 books provided to NY-based bookstore One Grand, Hanks included works on war, politics, history, and espionage. Read on for his favorites.


A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester

“The dark ages, explained as humans lived through them. A time machine of a book.” -TH

An Army At Dawn by Rick Atkinson

“The Liberation Trilogy covers WWII in Africa and Europe, where the small details hold the DNA of the entire conflagration. The final pages will rip your heart out.” -TH

1939: The Lost World of the Fair by David Gelernter

“You will go to the Fair with two of the most fascinating people to ever live in a book.” -TH

Stasiland by Anna Funder

“You may not be able to comprehend how far a state will go to keep its people subjugated.” -TH

A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

“What Gone with the Wind was to the Antebellum Plantation, this is to the Russian Grand Hotel.” -TH

What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer  

“Thinking about running for office? Going into politics? Really? REALLY???” -TH

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (also rec’d by Janelle Monáe)

“As in, all of us, each and every person who every stood erect on this spinning globe.” -TH

Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst

“Espionage and mystery and politics and war at a time when one was either a hero, a villain, or a coward. No exceptions.” -TH

Supreme City by Donald L. Miller

“You will never see NYC the same, and will never be without a destination to see.” -TH

The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

“Current events, ongoing, recognizable, and important to realize.” -TH

(via One Grand Books)

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