By Tyler Aquilina
March 11, 2021 at 09:00 AM EST

Aaron Paul's latest gig, starring in James Patterson's audio drama The Coldest Case for Audible, was serendipitous in a couple of ways. For one thing, it brought him back to the world of crime drama — a genre the Breaking Bad star loves — but it also united him with a company whose work he's enjoyed for some time.

"I'm a true fan of Audible, and just audio storytelling," Paul tells EW. "I love reading as well, but I read so many scripts, so it's kind of nice to break it up."

In between all of that, and his prolific onscreen career, Paul does find some time to take in printed books as well. Below, the actor fills EW in on the books of his life — audio and otherwise.

My favorite book as a child

Probably The Giving Tree. It's one of those books that really hit me, and it's kind of stayed with me my whole life. My wife got me all the pages of the first edition, and they're all framed in our house. It really means so much to me, and to my wife, and it's gonna be a real powerful book for my daughter as well. It's just a beautiful message.

A book I read in secret as a kid

I read It — I mean, I wasn't super young, but it was definitely a book that I kept hidden. I got it from my buddy, and he's like, "You have to read this." I didn't even know who Stephen King was. Right when I started reading it, I felt like I was doing something really, really naughty. I had never felt that sort of fear. I'm just now realizing, I don't think I've ever even told my parents that. [Laughs]

The last book to make me cry

The last book I read was Like Streams to the Ocean, by my buddy Jedediah Jenkins. It's a story of his life, his upbringing, with chapters like "Love," "Life," "Family," "Soul," "Death." Just hearing some of his experiences, and how he articulates and paints those experiences for his readers, is so powerful. It made me cry multiple times, and made me cry out laughing as well.

A movie adaptation of a book I love

It's got to be The Body. Stand by Me was a movie that really made me realize what I wanted to do for a living. I fell in love with Stephen King, like I said, earlier on — maybe a little too early. But I love his storytelling. He has a way of blanketing you in his world and not letting you see outside of that bubble until you're done, and his stories just stick with you forever.

Wil Wheaton, Jerry O'Connell, Corey Feldman, and River Phoenix in 'Stand by Me.'
| Credit: Everett Collection

A book I'd love to be in an adaptation of

I love that I'm only gonna say Stephen King stuff. I've always wanted them to make The Long Walk, which he wrote under a different name. I just think that that story is such a cool one, and you've kind of seen it kind of done in other worlds, but if they decided to do The Long Walk, I would be begging and pleading to somehow be a part of it.

A classic novel I really love

I hate to say it right now because I'm not even done. It's a book that I should have read so long ago, but it was too daunting. But then COVID happened, and I decided to finally bite the bullet and start East of Eden. It's one of those books that you don't want to admit that you haven't read. But I can already tell, the characters are just so rich. And actually, I'm listening to it on Audible, and it's really great. It's super soothing and easy to listen to.

A book that I always recommend

Lately, I would say To Shake the Sleeping Self [by Jedediah Jenkins]. I gotta plug my buddy, just because I'm such a huge fan of his writing, and of him as a whole. The story is, he came from a very religious upbringing, where he was taught that if you have gay thoughts, you're sinning. And so he went on a journey to try to discover who he truly was, or is. He started from the Oregon coast, and he rode his bike to the tip of Patagonia over the course of a year and a half, and that book is the story of his journey, and the story of him coming to terms with who he is and having the strength to be that person. It's just such a beautiful, heart-wrenching, inspiring story. I definitely recommend that one.

Another audiobook I love

Just before I started East of Eden I finished Where the Crawdads Sing. I highly recommend the Audible [version]. The person who narrates it does such a beautiful job. It takes place in the South, it's a period crime drama, and it's a really interesting, beautiful story where a kid on one side of the tracks falls for a kid on the other side of the tracks. Drama ensues, and a dead body is discovered. It's funny, thinking about all the other stories that I've talked about, there always tends to be a dead body at the center of the story. I don't know what that says about me. [Laughs]

My literary hero

I mean, it's gotta be Stephen King. I would recommend to anyone that's like, "I don't really read," do yourself a favor and pick up one of these many books. He's such a great author for someone that's kind of dipping their toe in, even though some of his books are just massive. I'm not gonna say, "Here, read The Stand." But I think if you want to do a quick read, read The Long Walk or read The Body. You just go on a ride.

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