|photo: Guy Bell
David Baldacci's books are published in more than 45 languages and have sold more than 130 million copies. His works have been adapted for both feature film and television. Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Long Road to Mercy (Grand Central, November 13, 2018) introduces Atlee Pine, an FBI agent with special skills assigned to the remote wilds of the southwestern United States.
On my nightstand:
Rush by Stephen Fried. I've read many bios on the country's founding fathers, but Dr. Benjamin Rush is a new one for me.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Beautifully and descriptively written about a part of the world and a time period in history about which I wanted to know more.
Grant by Ron Chernow. The classic tale of an ordinary man who turned out to be the right person to do extraordinary things at precisely the moment in history he was needed. Who says there is no God?
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series by various writers. I would get one for birthdays and Christmas and I would immediately run off and dive in. The greatest treat ever.
Top five authors:
In no particular order: Charles Dickens, for his broad landscapes dealing with important issues; Agatha Christie, for her peerless plotting skills, even if she did throw in the occasional evil twin; Edgar Allan Poe, for the sheer breadth of his genre skills and for inventing the detective story; Mark Twain, for giving America a literary voice; and John Irving, for showing us that all books must have a heart.
Book you've faked reading:
Any book having to do remotely with math that was required during my school years. And my grades reflected the fact that I never read them.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Anything by Jasper Fforde. The guy's imagination must be literally off the charts. And so fun to read. I tell everyone about him.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This was before the book was all the rage. I loved the cover for its simplicity. But it conveyed the very heart of the book in that one image fragment. Brilliant.
Books you hid from your parents:
The collected tales of James Bond by Ian Fleming. Too many scantily clad women, too much booze and far too many deadly weapons. I loved them!
Book that changed your life:
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I was working as a security guard in college and read it on my graveyard shift when I was supposed to be making rounds. (Hey, for three bucks an hour it didn't seem worth it to risk my life.) It made me start to think about writing mysteries.
Favorite line from a book:
"No one forgets the truth; they just get better at lying." (Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.) After listening to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, this one just bubbled to the surface for some reason.
Five books you'll never part with:
Sophie's Choice by William Styron. I had the pleasure of meeting Styron and presenting him with a copy of his book that he had signed to Truman Capote--I found it in a rare book shop. The look on his face was something to behold. Besides the brilliance of his novel, that alone would have qualified the book for my list.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving. In some ways the Twain of his generation. In this story he tackled issues like abortion with humor, kindness and the blunt force of a cat five hurricane.
The Magic Squirrel by N.G. Grishina. The first book I can remember reading as a young boy. This Russian fable has stuck with me.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. What's not to love about an incredible adventure filled with poignancy and a defining moment in a young man's, and perhaps a country's, journey?
Freddy and the French Fries by me. I came up with this story years ago and recorded it for my kids so they could hear my voice while I was away on travel. We later turned it into a book that my brother illustrated.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. I remember stumbling upon this tale and reading far into the night, while I was out on that moor with Holmes, Watson and that hound from hell. My first Holmes tale. I have since read them all, multiple times. It was like discovering this perfectly imperfect world that I could live in simply by turning a page.