A few famous people are some of the biggest book nerds out there. Here are the top 10 most famous readers and their must-read book recommendations.
Looking for a good book to read… that your favorite celeb, influence or even politician also loves? Well, look no further than this reading list of books loved by 10 famous actors, actresses, philanthropists, CEOs, billionaires, and more who love reading best-selling books.
1. Barack Obama
Former President of the United States Barack Obama is a voracious reader, tearing through the pages of dozens of books each year. During his childhood, he relied on books for stories of stability as he moved around the country from place to place with his family, never staying anywhere very long.
From Dr. Suess and Spiderman to Ralph Ellison, literature had an important place in Obama’s formative years. He became a writer well before he became President, and following his eight years in office, he penned A Promised Land, Dreams From My Father, and The Audacity of Hope.
2. Bill Gates
Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft, a billionaire, and a philanthropist with a deep passion for literature, particularly as it pertains to socioeconomics. He was born in Seattle to an upper-middle-class family and spent the majority of his childhood and teen years studying.
This would pay off though, as Gates is now a successful software developer, entrepreneur, business magnate, and writer despite actually dropping out of college. He’s currently worth approximately $133 billion, an American oligarch tailing just behind Jeff Bezos (worth approximately $175 billion) and Elon Musk (worth $220 billion).
You might also be interested in these essays about books.
3. LeBron James
LeBron James is a famous basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers and a beloved sports figure worldwide. He was the youngest basketball player to be drafted by the National Basketball Association (NBA) at the age of just 18. James has won three NBA championships and an astonishing four MVP awards and competing in multiple Olympic men’s basketball tournaments.
Few people expect sports stars to take a liking to activities like reading, but James says it’s a great way to unwind in between games. He appears to enjoy fiction the most, notably being spotted with YA favorite The Hunger Games.
4. Oprah Winfrey
Popular talk show host, billionaire, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey loves to read and has made book recommendations a large part of her overall brand. As one of the most wealthy and influential women in the nation, the books she reads and suggests to her audience are thought-provoking, relevant, and meaningful.
The Oprah Winfrey Show aired for a total of 25 years, after which she created OWN, a cable channel that replaced Discovery Health. Oprah has published her own written books as well, including the titles What I Know For Sure, What Happened to You, The Path Made Clear, and The Wisdom of Sundays.
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
- Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
- Night by Elie Wiesel
- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
- The Known World by Edward P. Jones
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
5. Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist in the 18th century, who became famous for her seven major novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Lady Susan and Other Works, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.
Many of these were made into major motion pictures and then remade with modern actors and film technology. Jane Austen’s books explore the themes of strong-willed women seeking societal favor, which at the time required marriage to a man of significant social standing.
Jane also loved to read, spending the time she wasn’t writing with her head already buried in a new book. Curious about which famous personalities are certified bookworms? Get to know them in our round-up of famous memoirs.
6. Jeff Bezos
Creator and Executive Chairman of online retail conglomerate Amazon is a surprisingly avid reader, enjoying books for both business and pleasure. Bezos is the second-richest oligarch in America, with over $170 billion in wealth. He is the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, the world’s largest online retail establishment. He earns an estimated $205 million per day and has four children with his wife MacKenzie Scott.
In addition to reading, his passions include philanthropy and charity work, most recently for Baby2Baby, an organization that aids families with children living in poverty. Like many of the famous readers on this list, Jeff Bezos is also a writer, having authored Invent & Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos.
7. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, from 1869 to 1877, after which he was preceded by former President Rutherford B. Hayes. He commanded Northern Union armies during the American Civil War, fighting against the Southern Confederates to free Black Americans from the clutches of slavery.
In 1870, during the second year of his presidency, Grant signed the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave voting rights to slaves that had been freed from their captors. He was elected again in 1872, and when the North eventually won the Civil War, he expressed great sadness “at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought.”
Ulysses S. Grant wrote down very few of his preferred books, but he recommended some of his favorite authors in letters written during his service. Grant enjoyed the works of James Fennimore Cooper, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Walter Scott, and Washington Irving. He also penned a notable collection of memoirs, available as The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.
8. Mark Twain
Mark Twain was an American author and publisher, named “the Father of American Literature” by William Faulkner. He is most famous for writing the classic novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These works addressed critical social issues during that time, from racism and classism to education and colonialism. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in particular, addressed Twain’s views on slavery within the context of an engaging fictional story, making it a beloved historical piece that has withstood the test of time.
Mark Twain was a total bookworm, reading nearly any new book he could get his hands on. His favorite titles aren’t well known, but he regularly perused the full works of famous authors of his time, including Macaulay, Plutarch, Crusoe, Gulliver, Shakspeare, Browning, Carlyle, and Sir Thomas Malory.
9. Virginia Woolf
20th-century English modernist and author Virginia Woolf lived from 1882 to 1941, having a significant influence on the unique form of stream-of-consciousness writing. Her professional writing career began in 1900 at the turn of the century, and by 1915, her first novel, The Voyage Out, had been published. Woolf is credited with inspiring the early feminist movement, although she was unfortunately deeply mentally ill and suffered greatly throughout her life.
She attempted suicide at least two times if not a third and was involuntarily institutionalized multiple times beginning at a young age. Woolf eventually succeeded and ended her battle with mental illness by drowning herself in the River Oues. Many believe that today, Virginia would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which at the time was not recognized nor were there any effective treatments for its symptoms, which were often brushed aside as hysteria. Woolf enjoyed reading when she wasn’t writing, preferring to immerse herself in stories rather than face her painful existence.
Although the exact titles of Virginia Woolf’s favorite books to read remain a mystery, it was known that she enjoyed the works of Dostoevsky, Walt Whitman, and Oscar Wilde.
10. Stephen King
Internationally acclaimed horror fiction author Stephen King is among the most voracious readers in Hollywood. He believes that reading is essential to good writing and carries a book with him everywhere he travels, picking a new book up as soon as he’s finished with the previous. King prefers to read mostly fictional thrillers and mysteries, much like the books he writes.
Final Word on The Most Famous Readers
The books famous people read have a significant influence on their life, their values, their ambitions, and of course, their success. Reading the same books can give you a unique insight into the minds of highly successful people so you can apply many of the same values and principles to your own life in hopes of enjoying your own successes. You might be interested in exploring autobiography books from famous personalities, check out our guide to the best autobiographies.
FAQ About Famous Readers
Which famous person likes to read the most?
Oprah Winfrey reads dozens of books every year in order to make book recommendations for Oprah’s Book Club.
Why do famous writers like to read?
Reading allows writers to gain inspiration, learn new writing styles, and delve into topics that help inform their content. Famous author Stephen King has said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
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