Ari Shapiro: TOP TEN BOOKS


Stephen Voss

The NPR journalist, and regular member of pop group Pink Martini, is a popular voice on NPR—he has been a co-host of the station’s flagship show, All Things Considered, since September 2015, after a two-year stint as the public radio station’s London correspondent. Prior to that he was the station’s White House correspondent. He is the author of the upcoming book, The Best Strangers in the World, and a musical collaborator with Alan Cumming in the touring show, Och and Oy.

Below are Ari Shapiro’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.



Haruki Murakami
I read this book when I was working a night shift, going to sleep at 6 p.m. and waking up at 2 a.m. each day. My surreal, hazy existence during those weeks was a perfect fit with the world of 1Q84, where everything seems just a little bit off. It's recognizable as the world you live in, and also somehow not.
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Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell
Mitchell is one of the few writers whose catalog I'll read beginning to end. He's a stylistic acrobat, and Cloud Atlas is his most beloved work for good reason.
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Braiding Sweetgrass

Robin Chimera
Kimmerer was torn over whether to pursue a career in botany or poetry. Although she chose science, this book shows how easily she could have gone the other direction. In chapters devoted to specific plants (strawberries, cedar, and cattails, for instance), she explores the relationship between scientific learning and the teachings of her own Native American heritage - along with larger questions, like whether a group of immigrant people, or plants, can ever become indigenous.
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The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara

Frank O'Hara
When I need to laugh, I read “Lana Turner Has Collapsed.” When I want to feel the dizziness of crazy infatuation, I read “Having a Coke With You.” Frank O’Hara’s poems remind me not to take life too seriously. And his death at age 40 reminds me not to take it for granted.
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The Overstory

Richard Powers
This novel made me rethink my relationship to nature. I read a section of it sitting in a first-growth redwood forest in Northern California, surrounded by a cathedral of ancient giants. As Powers writes, “Trees fall with spectacular crashes. But planting is silent and growth is invisible.”
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River Cafe 30

Ruth Rogers
When I lived in London as a foreign correspondent, Ruthie Rogers effectively adopted me. I’d show up at the River Cafe on a Sunday for lunch, and she’d plop me at a table with whoever her most interesting friends in the dining room were that day. Now that I live back in Washington, this cookbook helps me recreate those memories of delicious Italian meals on a Sunday afternoon.
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The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead
Knowing how many awards this book won, I expected it to be a weighty and serious work of literature. So I was surprised to discover that it’s also a page-turner with relentless momentum that hurtles the reader through Whitehead’s incredible writing.
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Sea of Poppies

Amitav Ghosh
This is the first book in Ghosh’s “Ibis trilogy,” a sweeping work of historical fiction set during the opium wars of the 1800s. His story carries readers from India to China on a British ship crammed with unforgettable characters, speaking a riot of languages. His exhaustive research fades into the background as the characters converge on the Ibis and the ship sets sail.
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Michael Chabon
I almost never re-read novels. It's just not something I do. This is the only exception I can think of.
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The Wake

Paul Kingsnorth
The tale behind this book is as riveting as the book itself. The first-time novelist can't get a publisher, so he crowdfunds this book. The story is set 1000 years ago and written in a slightly made-up version of old English. Of course nobody will buy it. Except that they do. It gets rave reviews and awards. When you read it, you'll understand why.
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