Book Brahmin: Nathaniel Philbrick

Nathaniel Philbrick is the bestselling author of the NBA-winning In the Heart of the Sea; Mayflower, a Pulitzer finalist; and Sea of Glory, winner of the Roosevelt Naval History Prize. The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, published yesterday by Viking, is his newest book. He lives on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts.

On your nightstand now:

Mark Twain's Roughing It and Lee Child's One Shot.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Silly Book
by Stoo Hample. Wonderfully rhythmic and funny. I can still recite portions of the book from memory.

Your top five authors:

Herman Melville, John Updike, Cormac McCarthy, Barbara Tuchman and Ernest Hemingway.

Book you've faked reading:

Pretty much anything by Henry James.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Stephen King's Dark Tower series

Book you've bought for the cover:

Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander. All the covers in the series, featuring paintings by Geoff Hunt, are wonderful.

Book that changed your life:

William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! I learned more about the uses of the past from that novel than any work of history I've ever read.

Favorite line from a book:

First line in the Hyena chapter of Moby-Dick: "There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own."

Book you want to read for the first time:

Jack London's The Sea-Wolf.

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