David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books

David Bowie's 100 favourite books.

Image from LitReactor

David Bowie, who died on Sunday January 2016, will always be known for his trailblazing music and style but not many people know that he was also a literary man as well. A few years ago he compiled a list of his 100 favourite books. To his many fans and those interested in what made such a great man tick going through the list of David Bowie’s 100 favourite books is like stepping into someone’s private space and gaining an insight into who they are.

The books on the list are wide ranging and eclectic and shine a little light into David Bowie as a thinking man. On his bookshelf you will find classics ranging from Homer right up to modern novels from the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Ian McEwan and Vladimir Nabokov.

From the books one can easily see that he was interested in art, humanity, psychology and existential philosophy with books such as “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, “Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson” by Camille Paglia, “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes and “The Divided Self” by R. D. Laing.

David Bowie’s contribution to music is unparalleled but his love of literature and for reading in particular must also be acknowledged. In 1987 he featured on a poster for American libraries showing David Bowie in a letterman jacket, holding a copy of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot,” urging American kids to read.

Poster showing David Bowie promoting American libraries and urging kids to read.

Many people have suggested a “David Bowie Book Club” to tackle each of his 100 favourite books. This would be a fitting tribute to such a legendary artist.

David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books

“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
“The 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 Brodie” by 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
“Maldoror” 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