Who Reads What Reading List

From 1988 - 2007 the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner, Maine has been compiling an annual Who Reads What list in which they ask the most accomplished in their fields to suggest the books that have influenced them. Below are just a few of the many people involved with the project.




The Standard Oil Company by Ida M. Tarbell
One Thousand by George Seldes
Aims of Education by Alfred North Whitehead
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Shame of the Cities by Lincoln Steffens


Jonathan  Franzen


Independent People by Halldór Laxness
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
"Two under-appreciated twentieth-century masterpieces"






Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
"I consider Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds a must-read not only for all investors - but for all thinking people. As Charles Mackay's classic so clearly demonstrates, follow the herd and you may just be headed straight for the slaughterhouse. With examples ranging from the Tuilpmania that occurred in the 1600's to the over-blown technology sector that we just experienced in the stock market, this recently updated classic is just as relevant today as it was the day it was published in 1841."





Trails Plowed Under by Charles m. Russell    

"Our greatest painter and sculptor of horses - better than Remington.  Also, great frontier-American humor in his story-telling.  Russell was a roper and a night wrangler; lived with Indians in Montana for 11 years - funny, funny reading!"


"The New New Thing" by Michael Lewis    

"Business journalist Michael Lewis has written a fascinating account of entrepreneur Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape, and Clark’s creation of Healtheon, his third billion-dollar company. This offers a new view of the future of the Internet, and an insider’s vision of Silicon Valley’s business."



The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope

Cousin Betty by Honoreé del Balzac

"The Eustace Diamonds of Trollope's, which is part of the Phineas Finn and Palliser series of novels, deeply moved me, and resulted in my reading all of Anthony Trollope. I found him to be one of the most pleasurable of English authors and his books have given me years of enjoyable reading. "Cousin Betty of Balzac's, part of his human comedy (one hundred novels) also affected me and I've since read all of Balzac that I could find in English."




Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown 

Sacred Hoop by Paula Gunn Allen 

Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole 

Orlando by Virginia Woolf 

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 

Ceremony by Leslie Silko

" Indian Givers by Jack Weatherford, Ph.D, by far the most thorough and readable book I've found about the contributions of Native American people to the world. lso, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Paula Gunn Allen (Native American and feminist subject)."

" A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Funny, poignant, real New Orleans. Also, Orlando by Virginia Woolf, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Ceremony by Leslie Silko, Native American."



Fifth Business | The Manticore | The World of Business by Robertson Davies
Night at the Circus by Angela Carter
Money by Martin Amis
Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
Libraby Don Delillo   

"I read something like three books a week, so trimming down became an exceptionally daunting prospect. These few are works that really stayed with me and I can assure the reader of a jolly good time with any of the following. Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders by Robertson Davies. These books form a trilogy so read them in order. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. Wonderfully surreal. Money by Martin Amis. Funny, bitter, extremely British. Brazzaville Beach, by William Boyd. Caring, poignant and terribly romantic. The Viveroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin. One of the greatest writers of this last twenty years. Libra by Don Delillo. Alarming and American."



Gone South by Robert McGammon
Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt
The Twelfth Angel | The Greatest Salesman in the World, Part 2 by Og Mandino
Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A Few Figs from Thistles by Edna St. Vincent Millay




The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain
The Robe by Lloyd Douglas
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

"By the time I was around twelve, some of my favorite books were The Silver Chalice, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Robe. As an adult I have thoroughly enjoyed 100 Years of Solitude and The Prince of Tides.

Both as Governor of Arkansas and now as President of the United States, I must spend a lot of time reading every day.  I also read about 70 fiction and nonfiction books each year."


Kim by Rudyard Kipling




The Foutainhead by Ayn Rand    

"This tale of an idealistic architech is a compelling tribute to man's quest for personal freedom. I read it first in college and it had a profound effect on me at that time."




Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf





Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy     

"The most beautiful love story ever."



People by Peter Spier    

"People, by Peter Spier, is a delightful book, for adults of all ages as well as for children. Beyond its charm, it is a smiling lesson of ecology. I am impatient to share my delight with my grandchildren."



Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes    

"Nothing if Not Critical by Robert Hughes. The greatest art critic of our time brings us up to date not only with the Art of our Time, but the Art of Criticism."

Categories: Reading List, Books