Each week, Deadline’s Hot Reads presents what Hollywood’s power players are reading now and what they think is special about each book.

If your record-breaking blockbuster show is based on a comic-book series like AMC’s The Walking Dead, which has its fall finale tonight, is, it makes sense that books are both a professional and personal passion. That’s the case for Joel Stillerman, the cable network’s EVP of original programming, production and digital content. It’s a passion that the former MTV exec and Rounders producer comes by through his family tree, even if he’s exclusively an e-book reader nowadays.

“One of the things that I just loved about growing up with my dad was that he not only loved to read, but he loved to talk about it and he loved to tell me what he loved about books,” says Stillerman. “And I think it instilled in me this sort of critical gene, for lack of a better phrase. I’m an engaged reader and I make mental notes about why I like things and why I don’t, and all those things sort of roll into my day job.”

young men and fireYoung Men And Fire by Norman Maclean (University Of Chicago Press)
“This was a re-read for me. I first read Young Men And Fire almost 20 years ago when I was a producer, and there was an idea to turn it into a feature. After recently travelling through an area in Arizona that had been ravaged by fire, I picked it up again. Just seeing that devastation in person made me think I want to go back and have somebody like Norman Maclean walk me through what happens in a wildfire like that. Look, the subject of smoke jumpers is also very intriguing to me. There’s been a fair amount of stuff done on them over the years, but for me, this is a pleasure read.”

empire of sinEmpire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist (Crown)
“I’m fascinated by New Orleans, the history and the people of the place. Also, what really attracts me, especially in the non-fiction space, are stories that are character-driven. Both Empire of Sin, which just came out recently, and Young Men And Fire are very riveted in character-driven stories to tell much larger stories.”

to rise againTo Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (Little, Brown and Company)
“I just really try and stay current on contemporary fiction writers. There’s a lot of debate nowadays about the state of the great American novel, and so while I have a deep appreciation for guys like Faulkner and some other great American novelists, I’m always looking for who the next great American novelist is going to be. So, every few months, I pick up a couple of contemporary things. This one, about very modern dilemmas, turned out to be well worth it.”