Danny Hooper Productions

Danny’s Favorite Books … So far

February 20th is National Clean Out Your Bookshelf Day and I’d like to participate, but I don’t know if I’m able. It seems that since my divorce ten years ago, and the subsequent sale of the large family home that served us for nearly two decades, all I’ve been doing is downsizing and purging. After years of garage-sale-ing, Goodwilling, and 1-800-Got-Junking, I have little left to give…what remains of my material life are the things I truly treasure, the things with meaning that matter. And that includes my already paired-down personal library.

Of the books that line my shelves, they clearly fall into five distinct categories – biographies, personal development books, cookbooks, joke books, and the most precious of all…my personal journals. If I were asked to pick the best-of-the-best in each category, I would be hard-pressed. But I’ll try.

I recently finished ‘Johnny Carson,’ a tell-all biography written by his lawyer of forty years, Henry Bushkin. Given that I’ve made my living as an entertainer (in one form or another) for almost as long, and that I always found tremendous inspiration watching Carson on late-night TV, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this one. In fact, I’m looking forward to a second read, but that will have to wait until I’ve finished the Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) and Martin Short biographies in my collection.

My prized personal development books are by familiar authors – Canfield, Rohn, Robbins, Mandino, Hill, and Covey. If the house was burning down and I could only grab one from the bookshelf? The little paperback version of Napolean Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ that I bought for a buck many, many years ago at a second-hand bookshop on Maui. To this day, it remains the Gold Standard of the genre.

My not-so-secret passion is cooking, and I can while away countless hours leafing through a good cookbook, preferably one with lots of Pavlovish photos. My favourite? Jamie Oliver’s Italy. Filled with fabulous photographs of the man grilling rabbit, lamb, and quail over smoldering vine clippings and olive wood, the makings of a rustic kitchen stuffed in a beat-up vintage Coleman cooler…mmm. This book speaks to a simpler way of life that holds great appeal to me.

And then there are the joke and humour books collected from here and there during my travels. Because humour is such an important part of my work, I am always on the lookout for new material, much of which is inspired by these reference tomes. The one I like most is called ‘The Comedy Thesaurus – 3,241 Quips, Quotes, and Smartass Remarks’ by Judy Brown. It contains the best one-liners from hundreds of different comics. Interestingly, it was yanked from bookshelves shortly after its release in 2005 due to copyright infringement issues.

And finally, my personal journals, the first dating back to age 15 when I travelled all the way to Ellesmere Island in the high Arctic for a summer job as a bull cook in a 68-man seismic camp. That was a rough and tumble first trip-away-from-home that ended tearfully after losing my entire summer wages ($1,500!) in a Blackjack game. Lesson learned. To this day, the only time I’ll go into a casino is if I have to speak to my mother.

Since then I’ve recorded most of my life experiences and learnings in journals of every size and shape; the good times, the bad times, and everything in between. Of the dozens of journals I’ve collected (but yet to fill) my favourites are the handmade Italian leather-bound beauties purchased on my trips to Tuscany. So many blank pages, so little time.

So there you have it, the reasons I won’t be participating in this year’s Clean Out Your Bookshelf Day. But go ahead; knock yourself out.