Celebrity – What Lena Dunham Reads Before Bed (Plus Other Celeb Picks)


What do best-selling authors, Hollywood actors and other notable folks read before bed? Find out in this excerpt from By the Book.

By Pamela Paul


  • Lena Dunham
    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images
    What book is on your nightstand now?Right now I’m looking right at Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior; the new Diane Keaton autobiography; Having It All, by Helen Gurley Brown; and, The Consolations of Philosophy, by Alain de Botton — all in various states of having-been-read-ness.

  • Emma Thompson
    Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images
    What book is on your nightstand now?Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers, Dancing to the Precipice, by Caroline Moorehead and Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel. I’ve always got two or three with me while on-the-go.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images
    What book is on your nightstand now?Right now I’m reading a book called Incognito, by David Eagleman, about the human brain. I’ve always been interested in psychology, so learning about the things that influence our thinking is really important for me. In bodybuilding, I was known for psyching out my opponents with mind tricks. I wish I had had this book then because the stuff I was doing was Mickey Mouse compared with what’s in this book.

  • Elizabeth Gilbert
    Vallery Jean/FilmMagic/Getty Images
    What book is on your nightstand now?Rome, by Robert Hughes. Though I’m finding it challenging to read about Rome without immediately wanting to run away to Rome.

  • Ira Glass
    Steve Mack/FilmMagic/Getty Images
    What book is on your nightstand now?Everything I’m reading right now is homework of one sort or another. That’s pretty typical. I’m jumping around like a grad student, writing a paper on Mary Lethert Wingerd’s history, North Country: The Making of Minnesota, for this big story we’re doing on the show about the Dakota Uprising of 1862.

  • John Grisham
    Taylor Hill/Getty Images Entertainment
    There are a dozen. I’m halfway through All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren. I haven’t read it since college.
  • Anne Lamott
    Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images Entertainment
    What book is on your nightstand now?Three books: one is Gypsy Boy, by Mikey Walsh; a novel, The Darlings, by Cristina Alger; and, a wonderful collection of stories by Alethea Black, I Knew You’d Be Lovely, which reminds me so much of the late, great Laurie Colwin.

  • Colin Powell
    Charles Norfleet/Getty Images Entertainment
    What book is on your nightstand now?The Summer of 1787, by David O. Stewart. As I grow older, I am increasingly fascinated by our founding fathers — the challenges they faced, and the compromises they made, good and bad, to create a nation, have inspired us and people around the world. I wish today’s political leaders, especially in Washington, would show such courage and willingness to fight for what they believe in, while also possessing an understanding of the need to compromise in order to solve the nation’s problems. They all need to go off and read 1787.


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