Dan Stevens: TOP TEN BOOKS


Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey. Photo courtesy of Emma Hall (NBCUniversal)

Dan Stevens, the London-born actor who became a household name (and face) when he played Lady Mary’s love Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, currently stars as the author Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas, now in theaters. It is another of Dickens’s works that appears on Stevens’s desert island reading list, but there is no doubt he has taken inspiration from the characters he plays, and joy from his many endeavors. As he told the Telegraph in 2016, “As long as I am given the opportunity to keep performing and keep exploring in whatever medium, I’ll be happy. As long as I get to spend time with my family, I’ll be happy. As long as I can write in some form, I’ll be happy. It is the essential things like that I equate with happiness.”

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


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman
I’ve had Whitman’s voice in my head since I discovered him as a teenager. I return to him again and again: “Read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” Yes, please.
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Gulliver’s Travels

Jonathan Swift
As an adventure story, as acidic satire and as a document on humanity, this work has never been beaten.
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Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela
The most inspirational text to be published in my lifetime. It taught me as much about man as about my wife’s homeland.
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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

Dylan Thomas
The lyrical drinker and Welshman crafting evocative stories of a magical land, filled with poetry. Stories like “Who Do You Wish Was With Us?” are painfully beautiful.
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Great Expectations

Charles Dickens
Probably my favorite novel by another great social satirist. So rich in character and so profound in its scope on society.
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The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus: All The Words

Monty Python
Everything I ever needed to know about anything is in this book. I can pick this up at any time, open to any page and be giggling in seconds. It’s the urtext for so much silliness.
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The Illustrated Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

James George Frazer
This book has fascinated me since I was a child. I’m always dipping into it and finding new things. Some of his Anglocentric conclusions date horribly, but the material gathered gives a magical insight into the people that have populated our planet and the rituals we observe. The illustrated edition was a later discovery and it’s an ethnographic treat.
Currently unavailable

Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters

Annie Dillard
Geoff Dyer put me on to this book. Dillard has the most captivating style; wandering and interrogating the natural world and our relation to it with skillful and delicate prose.
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Iron John: A Book About Men

Robert Bly
A vital, poetic meditation on men and masculinity. Essential reading as the patriarchy crumbles.
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The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

Bill Watterson
I’ve loved these sweet, silly, philosophical dialogues for years and now that my eldest daughter is discovering them they make me smile all over again.
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