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Film

Tom Hanks named his favourite books of all time

Tom Hanks can definitely be classified as an American icon, having established himself as one of the greatest actors of his time. Starring in incredibly impactful films such as Philadelphia and Forrest Gump among many others, Hanks has remained an integral part of the discourse of American cinema and popular culture.

Throughout his career, Hanks has worked with many filmmaking pioneers including Steven Spielberg who cast Hanks in several of his iconic productions like Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can and more. In addition to his unforgettable live-action performances, Hanks has also done excellent voice acting work as Woody in the Toy Story series.

Hanks has also tried his hand at writing by publishing a collection of short stories called Uncommon Type that were inspired by his personal collection of typewriters. His own literary investigations were influenced by some of the artists he worked with as well as his sources of inspiration, ranging from Fyodor Dostoevsky to J. D. Salinger.

While explaining the origin of his obsession, Hanks said: “In the summer of 1978 I traded in my worthless 1970s typewriter for a Hermes 2000 made in the 1950s. I adapted my experience into the story ‘These Are the Meditations of My Heart’… A typewriter is for musing. And letters. A computer is for work. And documents.”

In 2013, Hanks also penned an interesting opinion piece for The New York Times where he claimed that he used computers for work-related documents. However, the actor insisted that typewriters gave him a sense of freedom and confidence that was completely missing from the sterile technological experience.

He wrote: “The sound of typing is one reason to own a vintage manual typewriter — alas, there are only three reasons, and none of them are ease or speed. In addition to sound, there is the sheer physical pleasure of typing; it feels just as good as it sounds, the muscles in your hands control the volume and cadence of the aural assault so that the room echoes with the staccato beat of your synapses.”

Check out the full list of his favourite literary works below.

Tom Hanks’ favourite books:

  • Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari, 2011)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger, 1951)
  • The Martian (Andy Weir, 2011)
  • Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1866)
  • The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937)
  • Bossypants (Tina Fey, 2011)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles, 2016)
  • In the Garden of Beasts (Erik Larson, 2011)
  • In Cold Blood (Truman Capote, 1965)
  • The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 2001)
  • The Fire Next Time (James Baldwin, 1963)
  • What It Takes (Richard Ben Cramer, 1992)
  • A World Lit Only by Fire (William Manchester, 1992)
  • Mila 18 (Leon Uris, 1961)
  • Midnight in Europe (Alan Furst, 2014)
  • Hue 1968 (Mark Bowden, 2017)
  • Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give (Ada Calhoun, 2017)
  • 1939: the Lost World of the Fair (David Gelernter, 1995)
  • Light a Penny Candle (Maeve Binchy, 1982)
  • An Army at Dawn (Rick Atkinson, 2002)
  • Stasiland (Anna Funder, 2003)
  • Spies of the Balkans (Alan Furst, 2004)
  • The Glory and the Dream (William Manchester, 1974)
  • Supreme City (Donald L. Miller, 2014)
  • My Name Is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok, 1972)
  • Stoner (John Edward Williams, 1965)
  • Citizen Soldiers (Stephen E. Ambrose, 1997)
  • The Future is History (Masha Gessen, 2017)
  • Redshirts (John Scalzi, 2012)
  • Lenin’s Tomb (David Remnick, 1993)

Tom Hanks’ list of favourite books is definitely an eclectic one, featuring extensive writings on war, sociopolitical issues, coming-of-age tales and existential explorations among others. However, there is one particular book that Hanks cited as one of his personal favourites because it makes him wish he had written it.

While talking about the brilliance of William Manchester, Hanks stated that his work is extremely important because it manages to depict the entire spectrum of the human condition. “Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream, as he captured the spine of our modern history from the Bonus March to Vietnam in all its blemishes, hubris, and humanity,” Hanks said.

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