Because our favorite media maven is also a bookworm.
You’ve probably noticed that the oh-so nerdy KCM team is consistently pumped to put together long, indulgent book lists. We have recommendations for our favorite thriller and suspense books, our favorite books about sustainability (for both children and adults!), books penned by celebrities, and — for the political history geeks among us — books about presidents. We even love dishing out more customized recommendations about the books all of our staffers can’t put down. We’re endlessly excited about stories and the chance to escape into a new world (or, to delve more deeply into harrowing real-life issues).
But we’re also happy whenever we get the chance to peek at Katie’s reading list. We love her writing (hey, speaking of, did you know that the paperback of Going There is out now?), so of course, we’re always dying to pick her brain about her literary influences. And it turns out that she’s a prolific reader with oodles of wide-ranging suggestions — from poetry to classic fiction to contemporary bestsellers. We have no idea where she finds the time, but we’re certainly not complaining.
Fortunately for those of us who can’t get enough Katie inspiration, in this New York Times interview, she muses at length about the books she’s been obsessed with lately (alongside suggestions for her timeless favorites). To help you find your next summer read, we’ve compiled some of the recommendations below in a handy list. That way, when you’re filling up your Kindle in anticipation of a long flight, picking your next audiobook, browsing the shelves at your local bookstore, or making a much-needed library run, you’ll be prepared. Now all you have to do is take one of these stellar books to the beach (or, just crack one open on your commute).
Katie Couric’s Favorite Books
The Best Loved Poems of the American People, edited by Hazel Felleman
This classic compilation of American poetry includes over 575 traditional favorites that celebrate and reflect American culture and heritage. Katie cherishes this book for a sweet, sentimental reason: “My mom loved poetry and when I read ‘In Flanders Fields’ it always makes me think of her.”
The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
This nonfiction book delves into the story of “the decades-long migration of Black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life.” Though it came out just over a decade ago, it’s since been lauded as a classic must-read for readers looking to investigate race in the United States of America. Katie read it after receiving a recommendation from her sister, Clara: “I read it and thought it was a masterpiece. It prompted several rich and memorable conversations between us.”
Together: Loneliness, Health and What Happens When We Find Connection, by Vivek H Murthy
As the pandemic changed the way that we interacted with other human beings, loneliness became an epidemic. Surprisingly, the condition of loneliness has fascinating impacts on society at large: “In this ground-breaking book, [Murthy] traces the roots of the problem, and shows how loneliness lies behind some of our greatest personal and social challenges, from anxiety and depression to addiction and violence. But he also reveals the cure.” Katie thought this book was especially thought-provoking because it “underscored how loneliness and social isolation damage our emotional and physical health. It’s the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.”
Notes on Grief, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Unfortunately, the onset of the pandemic brought loss and pain to the forefront of our minds. In this nonfiction book about her father’s death, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “writes about being one of the millions of people grieving [in 2020]; about the familial and cultural dimensions of grief and also about the loneliness and anger that are unavoidable in it.” According to Katie, this book “helped [her] metabolize [her] own experience” of grief when she wrote about the losses of her husband and parents in Going There.
Personal History, Katharine Graham
If you’re looking for a biography written by a woman with a rich legacy, Katie recommends Katharine Graham’s memoir. After all, Graham is a female journalist 40 years Katie’s senior who “piloted the Washington Post through the scandals of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.” Katie loves this book because “Katharine Graham was a mythic, almost unknowable figure for me growing up outside Washington, D.C.” We’re excited to dive into the story of any iconic woman who shaped and influenced Katie.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers
This classic 20th-century novel explores the lives of sad, rejected, lonely characters who occupy a 1930s Georgia mill town. It’s known for being “wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tension in the South”; it’s also one of Katie’s childhood favorites. The book had such an impact on Katie that she nearly integrated it into her family forever: “I thought about naming our first daughter Carson, after Carson McCullers. But we decided to name her Elinor instead.”
Eleanor, by David Michaelis
Katie says that “lately, I’m gravitating to books that help me understand the state of the world” so naturally, she was drawn to this stunning biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, America’s longest-serving First Lady. Katie calls the book “a stunning character study of someone I deeply admire. It also explains how someone can survive a miserable childhood and go on to do great things.”
Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
If you’re a brave soul who wants to jump down the “contemporary American politics” rabbithole, Katie suggests this “meticulously reported deconstruction of the insane final days of the Trump administration.” Meticulous is the perfect word to describe the authors’ painstaking survey of the situation: “Woodward and Costa interviewed more than 200 people at the center of the turmoil, resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts—and a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink.”