David Bowie’s 100 Must Read Books

by |January 12, 2016

The great David Bowie passed away yesterday, so we thought we’d dive back into his 100 favourite books.

He released the list in 2013 as part of the exhibition, David Bowie Is,  at the Art Gallery of Ontario, giving a fascinating insight into the mind of the influential musician and style icon.

Bowie’s love of the written word was legendary. He was a voracious reader, knocking over a book a day throughout his life, and many of his songs are rooted in literature (Oh! You Pretty Things references Ayn Rand, while his album Diamond Dogs began life as a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984).

Bowie’s list of books is typically eclectic, with music memoirs and dystopian fiction alongside political essays and ancient classics. Sure, there will never be another David Bowie, but at least we can read like him.

Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester

Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse

Room At The Top by John Braine

On Having No Head by Douglass Harding

Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

City Of Night by John Rechy

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Iliad by Homer

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin

Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell

Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood

Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall

David Bomberg by Richard Cork

Blast by Wyndham Lewis

Passing by Nella Larson

Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto

The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes

In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

The Divided Self by R. D. Laing

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman

The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf

The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter

The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodieby Muriel Spark

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Herzog by Saul Bellow

Puckoon by Spike Milligan

Black Boy by Richard Wright

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima

Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler

The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot

McTeague by Frank Norris

Money by Martin Amis

The Outsider by Colin Wilson

Strange People by Frank Edwards

English Journey by J.B. Priestley

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West

1984 by George Orwell

The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn

Mystery Train by Greil Marcus

Beano (comic, ’50s)

Raw (comic, ’80s)

White Noise by Don DeLillo

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick

Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage

Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley

The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete

Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky

The Street by Ann Petry

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.

A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn

The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby

Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz

The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard

The Bridge by Hart Crane

All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos

Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders

The Bird Artist by Howard Norman

Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey

Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich

Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia

The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Teenage by Jon Savage

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Viz (comic, early ’80s)

Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)

Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara

The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens

Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes

Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler

Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels

The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa

Inferno by Dante Alighieri

A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno

The Insult by Rupert Thomson

In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan

A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes

Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

xdavid-bowie-is.jpg.pagespeed.ic.khJKXE71XRDavid Bowie Is

by Victoria Broackes & Geoffrey Marsh

David Bowie is a pioneering artist and performer whose career has spanned nearly 50 years and brought him international acclaim. He has sold over 140 million albums, and been cited as a major influence on contemporary artists and designers working across the creative arts.

This is the first book to be granted access to Bowie’s personal archive of performance costume, ephemera and original design artwork by Bowie, and brings it together to present a completely new perspective on his creative work and collaborations.

The book traces his career from its beginnings in London, through the breakthroughs of Space Oddity and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and on to his impact on the larger international tradition of twentieth-century avant-garde art.

Essays by V+A curators on Bowie’s London, image and influence on the fashion world are complemented by Christopher Frayling on film; Howard Goodall on musicology; Camille Paglia on gender and decadence; and Jon Savage on Bowie’s relationship with William Burroughs and his fans.

About the Author

Victoria Broackes is a curator of Theatre + Performance at the V+A. Geoffrey Marsh is Director of the V+A Theatre Collections.

Grab your copy of David Bowie Is here

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  • January 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Wow! What a list. A man who chose well what he filled his mind with!

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