Jason Segel's 6 favorite books
The actor recommends works by David Foster Wallace, Charlie McDowell, and more
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (Back Bay, $18). I had the honor of playing David Foster Wallace in an upcoming film. I feel that Infinite Jest did a real service to humanity in an age where you're told to sit and accept television and advertising. Wallace makes you work for satisfaction. As you trudge through the difficult sections and progress through the book, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. It changed my life and my relationship to reading.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Puffin, $7). Dahl's books provide wish fulfillment: You discover that you've been chosen for something more than your mundane life. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory caught me at an age when I felt like magic existed, and I could find a golden ticket.
The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau, $15). The story unfolds in a mental institution that may be haunted by the devil — or at least its patients think so. An entertaining read that also raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of institutions of all kinds.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (Puffin, $7). I reread Winnie-the-Pooh while I was writing the script for The Muppets to put myself in a childlike head space. Near the end, I would allow myself only one page a day, because I did not want to leave that world.
Dear Girls Above Me by Charlie McDowell (Three Rivers, $14). This book began as a Twitter feed about the two girls the author could hear in the apartment above him. It's a hilarious and really honest look at living in the social media generation. McDowell has a unique voice and is an amazing writer.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Dover, $3.50). I read Siddhartha in high school, and I carry a copy with me whenever I travel. I responded to the twists and turns of the Buddha's journey, of trying out a million different ways to live, and the very human story of an enlightened figure.
— Screen actor Jason Segel, whose screenplays include Forgetting Sarah Marshall and 2011's The Muppets, has teamed with a co-author to write his first mystery for young readers. Nightmares!, from Random House, launches a planned trilogy.