David Benioff: TOP TEN BOOKS


Courtesy of Helen Sloan

As an author with an uncanny instinct for dialogue, it was inevitable that Benioff would find himself drawn to screenwriting, adapting his own books, such as The 25th Hour (for Spike Lee) but also the works of others, like Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. But it is in television that Benioff has really found his métier, as the co-creator and show-runner for HBO’s all-conquering Game of Thrones.

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


The Holy Bible

Sure, it’s uneven. For every Book of Job there’s a Book of Leviticus, featuring some of the most boring prose ever written. But if you were stranded on a desert island, what book would better reward long study? And has there ever been a more beautiful distillation of existential philosophy than the Book of Ecclesiastes? Excluding those bizarre final verses, which seem to have been tacked on long after the book’s original composition, by priests nervous about the subversive message.
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For Whom the Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingway
Yes, a few of the lines are easy to mock (“I love thee and thou art so lovely and so wonderful and so beautiful and it does such things to me to be with thee that I feel as though I wanted to die when I am loving thee.”) Yes, the constant use of “thee” is grating. But my love for this novel isn’t rational. I have no interest in defending it. I loved it from first to last. No final page has ever left me as shattered as this one.
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The Collected Poetry of W.B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats
Despite his dodgy politics, Yeats remains an inspiration for his genius and the simple fact that the older he got, the better he wrote. “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” and “Politics”, both written while he was in his seventies, are some of the most memorable poems in the language: Now that my ladder’s gone / I must lie down where all the ladders start / In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. Top that, young bastards.
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Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe
As the son of a champion wrestler, I was naturally drawn to the grappling hero of Achebe’s masterpiece—Okonkwo, one of the most complex and charismatic protagonists in modern literature.
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Samuel Beckett
The Book of Ecclesiastes probably inspired the opening line of Beckett’s first published novel (“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”) Not Beckett’s most important work (whatever that means) or his most influential, but the one I love the most, maybe because he hadn’t yet perfected his art, maybe because it’s funny and sad and brilliant.
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The Dream Songs

John Berryman
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag and somehow a dog has taken itself & its tail considerably away into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving behind: me, wag. If you don’t like those lines, you probably won’t like these poems, and I probably won’t like you.
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Lucky Jim

Kingsley Amis
About twenty years ago I was driving around Ireland with a friend. We stopped at a famous golf course and my friend played a round. Since I don’t play golf, I stayed in the clubhouse and read this novel. The Irishmen thought I was mad, a lone Yank sitting in the corner, laughing hysterically. The funniest book I’ve read
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Dirty Snow

Georges Simenon
One of the most prolific writers in history, Simenon is best known for his crime novels featuring the detective Maigret. “I’ll manufacture Fords for a while until enough money comes in,” he said once, “Then I’ll make Rolls-Royces for pleasure.” Dirty Snow is a Rolls. A slender novel about a petty criminal living in a nameless occupied city, this book punches well above its weight class.
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Member of the Wedding

Carson McCullers
McCullers is one of those rare writers who remember what childhood is like. Not incidents, which anyone can recall, but states of mind, which are so difficult to recreate. My wife and I named our first child, Frankie, in honor of the novel’s heroine.
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White Tiger

Aravind Adiga
Sometimes I get jealous when I’m reading a great book by a younger writer. But White Tiger is so good I almost forgot to hate Aravind Adiga.
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