The singer and frontman for U2, whose new memoir is ''Surrender,'' avoids reading self-help books, ''though to learn why I'd probably have to read more of them.''

.- Which writers - novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets - working today do you admire most?

Foreign correspondents, especially those covering war zones. The uncovering of truth in a post-truth world where truthiness seems to have stepped in for facts. Masha Gessen's writing on Putin is extraordinary.

.- Are there any classic novels that you only  recently read for the first time?

''My name is Asher Lev,'' by Chaim Potok. All art is religious to me, even bad art is revealing. It will be the only real glance we get into the state of our soul until that can be measured.U2 early on faced a crisis of conscience regarding our devotion to the divine  -the divine as expressed by a certain strain of religious thought, or, as expressed in each other and our audience.

 We chose the latter, and as an activist, on that same path I've always tried to honor the divine dignity of the sick, the hungry and those oppressed by extreme poverty. Turns out the paths may end up in the same place. Asher Lev serves his faith in his painting.

.-  What books are on your night stand?

I do not have a rock 'n' roll clock - it's embarrassing, but I mostly get up before the Edge goes to bed, and it's early, early morning when I read. That said, I am enjoying reading Anne Enright's '' The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch'' in the dark on my iPad.

It's a lot of what I like and don't : conquests sexual and actual, a banquet of taste and touch, the perfume and acrid smells of the noble  rot corrupting humbler sensibilities rather than the other way around.

Fiction written from a woman's point of view, even from such a salty character, is good for me. Eliza is a bold Irish woman who begins her conversation and steep social climb in 19th century Paris, and hovers like a queen bee over Paraguay, a country I have only visited through this book. I'll be going back to see if it survived.

A book that's never off the night stand is '' The Message, '' a translation of the Bible by the late American scholar and minister Eugene Peterson.

I go back to it again and again, beguiled by the musicality of the language and the clarity of the translation. Some days I read it, other days it reads me.

Not on my night stand but on my earbuds is Edward Enninful's '' A Visible Man.'' I'm only a third of the way in, but he has a unique voice to explode cliches.

.- What's the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

Everything in ''We Don't Know Ourselves,'' Fintan O'Toole magnum opus / personal history of generational change in Ireland. Really great on the troubles in the church as well as the state.

Not much on music although he is a fan of Horslips not U2, which I found both encouraging and hurtful. I don't know Fintan well, but I wanted to after reading what amounts to a portrait of a family as much as the country.

.- Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

Over time, I've read more nonfiction, which I'm hungry for, to educate myself on new ideas I'm curious about, or things that I want to understand better.

''Where Is My Flying Car?,'' by J. Storrs Hall, is a recent find on how some unstoppable ideas get stopped.

I avoid the self-help genre, though to learn why I'd probably have to read more of them.

 .- What's the best book you've ever received as a gift? And the most inappropriate book you've ever received?

The book I often give as a gift is Seamus Heaney's ''Human Chain,'' his final collection. The last poem, ''A Kite for Aibhin,'' feels like a premonition of his untimely, unexpected passing.

I asked Seamus to sign quite a few for me as gifts, and his wife Marie, used to joke the unsigned copies were more rare.

I got a copy of Edna O'Brian's '' The Country Girls ''growing up, which hurried my puberty to a place where I thought differently about girls and women. I still do. It was banned in Ireland when it was published. I have received some steamy self- published fiction from fans.

.- You're organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Edna O'Brien, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett to change the subject to Rugby.

.- What do you plan to read next?

"Finding Solace,'' by Agnes Nyamayarwo. Agnes is a nurse from Uganda I met in 2002. Hearing her tell her story changed my life, and I'm one of many. 

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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