F. Murray Abraham: TOP TEN BOOKS


No surprise that a man who has memorized more than 50 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and recites them regularly to keep his mind sharp, would include a book of those sonnets on his desert island. That’s not the only book that illuminates F. Murray Abraham’s love of the classics.  There’s also Dickens, Tolstoy, and Proust–and one book without which no other books would exist: the dictionary. The veteran actor, now 83, has been slaying audiences on Broadway and on screen for over five decades, winning an Oscar for his role as Salieri in Miloš Forman’s 1984 film, Amadeus. Many roles have followed, but it was his memorable performance in the second season of Mike White’s water-cooler hit, White Lotus, that brought him a new generation of fans–assuming, that is, that they hadn’t already discovered him as the Egyptian god Khonshu in the Marvel fantasy series, Moon Knight. But while television has brought him a global following, it is theater that retains his heart. He’s been in at least 70 shows on, off, and off off Broadway, including as Roy Cohn in Angels in America; Pozzo in Mike Nichol’s production of Waiting for Godot; and playing opposite Helen Mirren in A Month in the Country. He says, “I think we tend to load these lists with titles that puff us up, because after all it’s only ten books, not much when you consider that’s what Joyce Carol Oates reads in a couple days. There are too many I’ve left off by Mailer, Oates, Bradbury, Dostoevsky, Coetzee, Sappho, etc etc. But a desert island can’t be all heavy literature; there should be some fun books too, as well as books on living in the wild; how about Robinson Crusoe, or Swiss Family Robinson?”

Below are F.Murray Abraham’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


In Search of Lost Time

Marcel Proust
 This conflated translation offered entry into this great work beyond Swann’s Way and into the heart of the work, as the famous translation didn’t. The distance of the language, the coldness, separated me from the deep examination of myself, forcing me to read and reread more carefully, then push me to leap forward, as hurtful and embarrassing as it is.
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Stephen Dixon
Dixon was shortlisted twice for the National Book Award, yet could not maintain a publisher because of money. He told me that he knew how they wanted him to write, but he wouldn’t do it. He was so good.

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Confucius to Cummings: An Anthology of Poetry

Ezra Pound and Marcella Spann
This is an important guide to world poetry.
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Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy
Simply one of the greatest novels ever written.
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Major Works of Charles Dickens (Boxed Set)

Charles Dickens
Try reading it aloud; to your self to a group, to a crowd. He was born to connect with humanity.
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Tales from the Thousand and One Nights

I dare you to stop reading after the first three stories.
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One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez
His imagination translates magic into reality, pretty good trick.
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Shakespeare: Invention of the Human

Harold Bloom
He was a friend and mentor. Of his many books, this is a favorite, full of insights and passion draw me back to it again and again.
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The Oxford English Dictionary

I love to leaf through a dictionary.
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History of Art

Horst W. Janson 
Essential to an understanding of common humanity. *Note: this is shipped as a used book.
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