Judd Apatow on the Books Trump Must Read: "He Definitely Needs Some Self-Help"

6:15 AM 4/17/2017

by THR Staff

The 'Girls' and 'Trainwreck' producer offers eight suggestions. Plus book recommendations from 28 other Hollywood and media insiders, from Barbra Streisand to John Oliver.

Judd Apatow and Donald Trump
Judd Apatow and Donald Trump
Getty Images

  • Judd Apatow

    Director and producer

    Courtesy of Vintage Books

    "I don't think there is any purpose recommending books to Donald Trump. People say he does not read. Is that because he has some sort of mental issue or is it because he has no interest in what other people have to say? Reading fiction leads to people being more compassionate, so it's very sad that it's something he has no interest in. He does not seem to be the kind of person who has any interest in the lives of anyone outside of his own family.

    If he were to read, I think he should start with the Bible. He pretends to be religious but has shown zero familiarity with what is written in the Bible or the New Testament. He probably needs to learn some of the basic ideas preached by Jesus Christ. He talks a lot about the poor, but his ideas only serve the rich. His core ideals could not be less Christ-like.

    He definitely should read some self help. He has told interviewers he has never seen a therapist because he doesn't want to know. He is afraid. Well, maybe he should know. Clearly his narcissism is the result of how he was raised. Who is he trying to impress with his worship of money and success? Why doesn't he have empathy for other people? Why is he so vindictive? Why does he treat women so badly? If he won't read a book or go to a therapist maybe he could at least watch Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday instead of Fox News for an hour.

    I think he should read the new Dan Chaon book, Ill Will, which is amazing. Just to get him rolling with the physical act of reading. I love Dave Eggers' book What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, an incredible story about a Lost Boy of the Sudan. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander to learn about racism in America, and An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore. The writings of Martin Luther King and Gandhi couldn't hurt either. Unfortunately he will never read any of this. That is the only thing we can count on at this time — that Donald Trump will never read."

  • Moby

    Recording artist

    Courtesy of Crossway

    "That's such a good question. A book of Sufi poetry, but that's a little too progressive California. You know what it would be? I forget his name [reporter's note: John Newton] but there was a slave ship captain, who was in the 18th century the worst person in the world. He bought and sold people. And his slave ship capsized and he was about to drown and he said, he prayed, he said to God, 'If you save me I will spend the rest of my life doing the worst job you can possibly think of in a church.' And he lived, so he spent the next 40 years getting paid nothing to clean the toilets in a church. And he became a poet as well and he wrote 'Amazing Grace.' And I think it's so remarkable that this slave ship captain had this Saul on the road to Damascus moment and ended up writing 'Amazing Grace,' and there's a biography of him [John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace] that is really powerful, and I would want to give him that."

  • Nigel Lythgoe

    Director and producer

    Courtesy of Hachette Book Group

    "Probably not Catcher in the Rye because he does an awful lot of (makes jerking off gesture). No no no … For those that know Catcher in the Rye. (Smiles.) Maybe Fifty Shades of not knowing what to do! (Laughs.)"

  • Jeff Nichols


    Courtesy of Penguin Books

    "Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. He needs to read it. It’s about our nuclear armament."

  • Shirley MacLaine


    Courtesy of Gosai Publishers

    "Probably the Bhagavad Gita. Because then he could study how it happens that a civilization could possibly destroy itself."

  • Richard Linklater


    Courtesy of Empire Books

    "Walden or something by [Henry David] Thoreau, something about the American soul. And maybe something to do with humility. But you know what? It wouldn’t matter because reading doesn’t penetrate the system there (motions to his head, referring to Trump) unfortunately."

  • Sarah Paulson


    Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

    "I don’t know about a book, but he can start with the Constitution. He can start with the Constitution. That would be good."

  • Jeffrey Toobin

    CNN legal analyst

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    "The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam It proves that people in the White House are never as smart as they think they are."

  • Esther Newberg

    ICM Partners

    Courtesy of Picador

    "The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman — in an ideal world, so he could have some understanding of the rising global issues. In the real world, I’d be happy if he finished One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss."

  • Judith Regan

    Book editor

    Courtesy of Regan Arts

    "Wall Street Wars by Richard Farley. Battered by the 1929 stock market crash and limping from the effects of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stormed Washington on a promise to save the American economy. What ensued was a long war between Wall Street and Washington that included fist-fights, circus-like stunts, conmen, crooks and unlikely heroes. Nothing changes."

  • Illeana Douglas



    "What about Washington's Rules of Civility? It might be a good read for him."

  • Beau Bridges


    Courtesy of Vintage Books

    "The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. It's a great book."

  • John Landis


    Courtesy of Penguin Books

    "The Autobiography of Malcolm X, but I don't think that this president is capable of reading a book. I really don't."

  • Barbra Streisand

    Recording artist and actress

    Courtesy of Harcourt Brace and Company; Courtesy of Stanford Security Studies

    "The Emperor Has No Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. We know the president is not much of a book reader nor has he the attention span for it, so one of my recommendations is a short story. Much like the emperor who had no clothes, Trump's promises are also made of magical thinking. His promise to have Mexico pay for a wall is utter fantasy. His promise to ban Muslim refugees from entering the country has been shot down in the courts on multiple occasions. He says to buy American when his clothing line is made in Asia and Central America. The American people are beginning to see the emperor has no clothes [and he is] filled with many empty promises.

    U.S. Presidents and Foreign Policy Mistakes by Stephen G. Walker and Akan Malici. Before he and his son-in-law, who has no foreign policy experience, make too many of them."

  • Ice Cube

    Recording artist, actor and producer

    Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

    "Probably the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Something that deals with the fundamental foundation of what the country is all about."

  • Jesse Angelo

    CEO/publisher; editor-in-chief, 'New York Post'

    "Whichever book he believes will help him lead the free world most effectively and wisely."

  • Alec Baldwin

    Actor and author

    Courtesy of Harper Collins

    "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

  • Dean Baquet

    Executive editor, 'The New York Times'

    Courtesy of Macmillan

    "Without Fear or Favor by Harrison Salisbury. I think the history of the Pentagon Papers would give him a good perspective on journalists who find themselves in position to challenge authorities."

  • Phil Griffin

    President, MSNBC

    Courtesy of Yale University Press

    "A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich."

  • Seth Meyers

    Host, 'Late Night With Seth Meyers'

    Courtesy of Ballantine Books

    "Any of the books that were ghostwritten in his name."

  • John Oliver

    Host, 'Last Week Tonight'

    Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

    "Just a book would be great. It can even be one of the books he 'wrote.' But he has to read every single word, cover to cover. No skimming. No audiobook bullshit. The whole thing."

  • Joe Scarborough

    Host, 'Morning Joe'

    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    "Boris Johnson's The Churchill Factor. It's about how somebody who at times was impetuous and volatile, but he focused himself and disciplined himself in a period of time where not only Great Britain's future depended on it but Western civilization. I'd also have him read Jesus' Sermon on the Mount starting with the Beatitudes and tell him to memorize the Beatitudes. It would help him a lot."

  • Patricia Arquette


    Courtesy of Random House

    "I would give him a Dr. Seuss book. (Laughs.) Or some kind of book on integrity. There are so many children’s books about good behavior. I would definitely give him one of those, too."

  • Van Jones


    Courtesy of Penguin

    "1984 (laughs) — for obvious reasons."

  • Fisher Stevens

    Actor, director and producer

    Courtesy of Harper Collins

    "Well, he can’t read a book. It doesn’t seem like he has the attention span. So I don’t know. Maybe he should read the Tao Te Ching, the Stephen Mitchell translation. It’s very short, it’s succinct. And it may help him. I think he could get through that book because it’s so short."

  • Tom McCarthy


    Courtesy of Penguin Random House

    "Wouldn’t we settle for any f—ing book right now? If that guy would read, just, something. It would have to be a little simple. Winnie the Pooh. I’m going to go with Winnie the Pooh."

  • Griffin Dunne


    "Good question. The problem I’m bumping up against is that I think in images, and I cannot get in my mind the image of him sitting down and reading a book. That’s why the problem is in the question. I can’t wrap my head around it."

  • Garry Trudeau

    'Doonesbury' creator

    Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

    "How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. Because first things first."

  • Christina Hendricks


    "I don’t even know where to begin with that. I couldn’t...I couldn’t start. I don’t know. But now I’m going to think about it all night."