By Megan McCluskey
November 17, 2016

Eddie Redmayne may be the star of the Harry Potter prequel film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but his literary tastes are not confined to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. The actor tells TIME his list of favorites includes a historical accounting of the building of Venice, a kids’ book based on a classic card game and a collection of drawings done by a 19th century French post-Impressionist. Not that he doesn’t have a soft spot for the Potterverse. “It’s that amazing thing: even though in theory they’re children’s stories, whatever age you read them at, there’s something for you,” says Redmayne.

‘This is kind of a weird one, but it’s just a book I always look at, even though it’s a book of drawings. So it’s really the drawings that I love. I find them mystical and moving.’

GEORGES SEURAT: THE DRAWINGS

By Jodi Hauptman, Karl Buchberg, Hubert Damisch, Bridget Riley, Richard Shiff and Richard Thomson with drawings by Georges-Pierre Seurat

A collection of Seurat’s compositions on paper

THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY OF VENICE

By Deborah Howard

A guide to the Floating City’s design

‘It sounds very specific and niche–and in some ways it is–but [I read it] before I knew anything about architecture, and I found it the most wonderfully lucid inroad to not only an amazing city but how to look at buildings.’

MRS. WOBBLE THE WAITRESS

By Allan and Janet Ahlberg

A children’s tale of a clumsy waitress

‘It’s my favorite children’s book. I suppose at a young age–without knowing it–it teaches you to think creatively.’

‘It’s an incredibly personal book written by a very wise person, so it’s a book that I’ll go back to in a way that’s unlike any other. It also has a chapter on Yves Klein, who happens to be my favorite artist.’

A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST

By Rebecca Solnit

An essay series exploring what it means to lose oneself

LEVELS OF LIFE

By Julian Barnes

An amalgam of essay, fiction and memoir examining sorrow

‘It’s a meditation on grief, and I just found it profoundly moving. The way in which he approaches [grief] is so unique.’

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

This appears in the November 28, 2016 issue of TIME.

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