Inside the Santa Clara public library in the American State of California (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon /Bloomberg)

Libraries Of Leaders: What The Authors You Admire Read

Popular British author Neil Gaiman once famously said, “A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” The influence a good book can have at an intellectual , emotional, and spiritual level is immense and undeniable. This week let's peek into the libraries of three authors, who probably are a part of your bookshelf, and find out what they read and recommend.

1. Joanne Rowling

Joanne Rowling and her husband Dr Neil Murray arriving at the premiere of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix in London (Photographer : Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News)
Joanne Rowling and her husband Dr Neil Murray arriving at the premiere of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix in London (Photographer : Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News)

Joanne Rowling, who is more popularly known as JK Rowling, graduated in French and Classics from Exeter University, and has worked with Amnesty International as a researcher in the past. She began writing her first book of the Harry Potter series while on a train journey from Manchester to London. She is currently the 197th richest person in the United Kingdom, according the Sunday Times' rich-list with an estimated 600-million-pound fortune. She recounted some of her favourite books on oprah.com. Here are a few picks.

1. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

This is one of Rowling’s favourite children’s books. It is the story of a young orphaned girl who moves to Moonacre Manor where her kindly uncle, who is also her new guardian, lives. Despite thinking of it as a sort of paradise, and feeling very much at home, she notices an underlying sadness about the house, and the town in which it is set, and sets out to investigate.

Rowling said she particularly found the description of the food - right down to what went into the children’s sandwiches - special.

2. Cheri by Colette

This is a love story featuring a spoilt young man and his mistress. Rowling said she was impressed by the descriptive passages in the book and the sensuality of it all, making her wish that she could write like Colette. The final scene, in particular, was so incredibly moving that it made her want to cry, she told oprah.com.

3. Emma by Jane Austen

A clever and insightful exploration of relationships, Emma is one of Austen’s most acclaimed works. It is the story of a young woman who sees no need for love and marriage for herself. However, when she attempts to arrange a suitable match for one of her admirers, things go awry. The subtlety of Austen's novel is what Rowling admires most, she said.

You’re drawn into the story, and you come out the other end, and you know you’ve seen something great in action. But you can’t see the pyrotechnics; there’s nothing flashy. 
Joanne Rowling to oprah.com

2. Paulo Coelho

(Source: Paulo Coelho’s verified Twitter handle)
(Source: Paulo Coelho’s verified Twitter handle)

Paulo Coelho is probably best known for his 1988 novel, The Alchemist, which set a world record for the most translated novel. The book has been translated into 80 languages so far, and sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. Politically active since his youth, Coelho is also a UNESCO Special Counsel for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences. He told the U.S magazine, The Week, what some of his favourite books are.

1.Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

An unapologetic work featuring the adventures of a young writer and his friends in Paris, the book was banned for 27 years in the United States on grounds of obscenity. It is now widely respected as an American classic. Coelho said this was the book that gave him the first stimulus to write.

When I read Miller, I said to myself, “Okay, this is literature.”
Paulo Coelho to The Week

2. Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon by Jorge Amado

Set in a small Brazilian town in the 1920s, the central theme of the book is the romance between a Syrian-origin hotel owner and his new cook, and the societal challenges they face. Coelho rates Amado as his favourite Brazilian author.

3. 1984 by George Orwell

The story of life under a totalitarian state, in which history is regularly destroyed and re-written, the book was written in 1949, and is hailed by many as visionary and prophetic. It juxtaposes a desire for freedom, with a craving for power, Coelho said.

3. Jeffrey Archer

(Source: Jeffrey Archer’s official Twitter handle)
(Source: Jeffrey Archer’s official Twitter handle)

A promising Parliamentarian representing Louth County in the House of Commons, Archer aged just 29, had to cut his political career short in order to set his finances straight. A bad business deal almost bankrupted him leading to his resignation from Parliament. He wrote his first novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less in 1976, which went on to become an international best seller, and he hasn’t looked back since . His books have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide. Here are some of his favourite books.

1. Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig

The book details a romance between a young army lieutenant and the crippled daughter of a wealthy land owner. Set in a remote Hungarian outpost, the young man agrees to marry the girl, but later denies the betrothal in public, leading her to commit suicide, and leaving him consumed with guilt .

An Indian friend recommended Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig - should have read it when it first came out - it’s wonderful.
Jeffrey Archer on Twitter  

2.Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The story of two dispossessed young American men who are out of work and driven by the shared dream of one day owning a piece of land; it is one of Steinbeck’s most popular works.

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

This is one of Archer's favourite books, according to his official website. An adventure centering around the story of a wrongfully imprisoned man who escapes from jail and goes about seeking revenge against those responsible, it is one of Dumas' most popular books along with The Three Musketeers.