Fashion consultant Tim Gunn stepped away from a long career in academia when he became the co-host of Project Runway. On March 27, Gunn and Heidi Klum will launch their new fashion competition series, Making the Cut, on Amazon Prime.

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff (2010).

I've been interested in the history of the ancient world for as long as I can remember, and I've devoured dozens of books on the topic. Stacy Schiff's Pulitzer Prize winner is the most compelling and eminently readable of those books, so much so that I'm reading it, again, at this very moment. Schiff weaves an electrifying story of one of history's most remarkable individuals. You'll feel as though Cleopatra is sitting next to you.

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (1998).

This is a story of unimaginably ambitious sleuthing. I'm someone who loves learning about words and their origins, and I had no clue about how the Oxford English Dictionary came to be. Apparently, truth really is stranger than fiction. You'll be spellbound.

Adam's Navel by Michael Sims (2003).

This book, which takes readers on a scientific and cultural tour of the human body, is so riveting and provocative that I've bought copies for dozens of friends and colleagues. So profound is the content that my view of the world has been permanently enhanced. And because the book is organized by body part, you can ricochet from chapter to chapter.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963).

Most people's go-to coming-of-age novel is The Catcher in the Rye, but as a troubled teen, I found The Bell Jar infinitely more readable and relatable. Plath's roman à clef is simultaneously beautiful and tragic, uplifting and haunting. For me, it's a spiritual catharsis.

I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron (2010).

This is a collection of essays that I return to frequently, because I know it guarantees a good belly laugh. From "The Six Stages of E-Mail" to "My Life as a Meat Loaf," Ephron's wit and insights are delightful, and her journalism remains a wonderful antidote to the troubles of the world.

D.V. by Diana Vreeland (1984).

If you choose to read only one book about the fashion industry, it has to be the autobiography of the great editor and style icon. Vreeland, who held court at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, was at once a rare hothouse flower and a sphinx without a riddle.

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