George Takei is famous for his role as Mr. Sulu in Star Trek and for being a social media superstar, with over 2.9 million Twitter followers. He is also a national leader in social justice, human rights and marriage equality.
What many might not know, is that Takei loves the theater scene in Los Angeles and has an innate appreciation for fine literature. We caught up with Takei to see what he’s doing with his free time at home in Los Angeles, and to find out what’s on his bookshelf.
What books, music or movies have you been enjoying during this time we are all "Safer at Home"?
I’ve been reading and re-reading Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet because my producing partners and I are going to make it into a film. It is a melancholy romance between a Chinese American boy and a Japanese American girl in Seattle just before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “Safer at home” after dinner is movie night every night, and we’ve [with husband Brad] been streaming classic movies we remember fondly such as To Kill a Mockingbird, West Side Story, To Catch a Thief and Les Misérables.
What ten books do you recommend to inspire, entertain or educate readers, young and old?
Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth, David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, James A. Michener’s Hawaii and Sayonara, E.M. Forster’s Maurice, Arthur Golden’s Memoir of a Geisha, Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress and Black Betty and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Your newest book, They Called Us Enemy, is a New York Times bestseller. For those unfamiliar with this graphic memoir, what is it about?
They Called Us Enemy is about my childhood memory of my imprisonment in U.S. internment camps, Rohwer in Arkansas and Tule Lake in California, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
What doesThey Called Us Enemy teach us?
They Called Us Enemy teaches of a time when irrational fear combined with race prejudice and the failure of political leadership can test the ideals of our democracy and lead to injustice and the tarnishing of American principles.
Why is this book relevant in today's times?
My book shines a light on a past chapter of American history to resonate on current events such as the Muslim Travel Ban and the treatment of Latinos on our southern border today.
Why do you love to read?
Reading for me is the source of information on current and past events, scholarly thinking and new scientific discoveries as well as pleasure and entertainment.
When things get back to normal, where in the world would you want to go and what would you do there? In Los Angeles?
I am an Anglophile so I am a regular visitor to Britain. We also travel frequently to Japan, my ancestral land from where my grandparents came. We love to dine and taste the unique flavors of each culture, visit places where historic events took place, and, because we are theater lovers, we live in their theaters large and small.
We are Angelenos, and we love and live in our city and its history. As theater lovers, we are season subscribers of the offerings of the Center Theater Group at the L.A. Music Center. We often go to the Pantages in Hollywood where traveling Broadway musicals perch. We are also activists politically and culturally and serve on non-profit Boards and Commissions.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven't addressed?
San Francisco is my late father’s “home town,” and he always called himself a “San Franciscan.” So I am a chip off the old block and share his love for the “city by the bay.”