J.J. Abrams is a master of pop culture, having crafted or reimagined countless iconic characters over the course of his career, but his own personal favorite is one from the early days of his career. Sitting down with The New York Times to discuss S., the novel he created with author Doug Dorst, the multi-hyphenate reveals that Alias' Sydney Bristow still holds a special place in his heart. "She was a character with a secret, and that is always a fun place to start," he says. "But she wasn't a superhero; she was terrified at almost every step. But still, she would do the right thing. I think we would all like to believe we would behave like that when the going gets rough."

Abrams discusses his taste in books — Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, Graham Greene are among his favorite authors — calling out Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde's Sleights of Mind as a particularly insightful look at the way neuroscience factors into the way we perceive magic. If you'd like to hear more from Abrams, including how he placed an awkward phone call to Mo Williams of the Portland Trail Blazers, check out the full interview.