Art Works Blog

Three Books That Changed My Life

Welcome to our somewhat regular new series in which we ask artists and arts leaders to share with us three books that changed their lives. Today we're hearing from actor and writer Jason Segel fresh off his buzzworthy portrayal of David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour. Who else would you like to hear from? Let us know in the comments.

a white man with brown hair and brown eyes in blue v-neck sweater and black sportscoat

Jason Segel. Photo courtesy of Mr. Segel

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I had to include a Roald Dahl book on this list because he was, looking back, a huge influence on the person I became. Good children’s literature is a little bit like the movie Inception; the author is able to implant ideas in the reader’s psyche without it ever feeling like someone is trying to teach you a lesson about morality. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory we are presented with the possibility that a Golden Ticket is right around the corner. However, it’s real potential is only revealed to one who proves their worth by passing a test of character. It’s not just about finding a Golden Ticket, you have to be a good person too.

2. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

I found this book at a time in my life when I really needed to read it. If I am perfectly honest, I sometimes feel that it found me. In Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace is brave enough to send out a distress beacon on behalf of us all, saying, “I’ve been promised my whole life that some combination of achievement, pleasure, and entertainment is going to fill this feeling of emptiness. It hasn’t. Is anyone else with me?” Judging by its devotees, it seems many people are. I am, but I must say that the experience of reading it made me feel a whole lot less alone.

3. Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne

This book is beautiful. Pure and simple and kind. Every morning while writing the Muppets in London I would read a few pages to get my brain in the right mode to write. On the day I finished I cried. Then I looked up and realized I was in a pub in a somewhat rough neighborhood crying, reading Winnie The Pooh. I’d like to tell you that I didn’t care, that I was proud. I wasn’t. I ran away. 

Want to hear more from Jason Segel? Check out our Art Talk with him.


Submitted by Natalie Geary (not verified) on

What wonderful choices...the difficult part is coming up with only three. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one for sure, Roald Dahl is a master of layers and brings a soulfulness to his characters that is lasting. Huckleberry Finn is a must for me too, again layers and characters that are real, flawed, breathe and teach. My third is Gone With the Wind...big influence on my life for many reasons. Complex, strong female, self reliant and strong, also flawed and spoiled and, well multi-faceted. I learned many things from what could have been a silly book about a horrible time in America, but instead learned about people in challenging times making hard choices. I could add many more...

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