David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books Lincoln Michel January 11, 2016 Scuttlebutt 45 Comments The world lost one of its greatest cultural figures today, as legendary musician David Bowie passed away at age 69. He died after a battle with cancer. Bowie was known as a forward-thinking chameleon musician who was always changing, innovating, and creating new sounds and styles. Even in his late 60s, Bowie was producing new music. His last album, Blackstar, was released only days before his death. Bowie was also, not surprisingly, an avid reader and many of his albums were influenced by books. When Vanity Fair asked him “What is your idea of perfect happiness?” he responded simply “reading.” In 2013, Bowie posted his 100 favorite books on his public Facebook page. The list is a characteristically eclectic list featuring everyone from Junot Diaz and George Orwell to Angela Carter and Muriel Spark. RIP Bowie. The world was a better place for having you in it. David Bowie’s Top 100 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 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 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 45 Responses David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books | Electric Literature | Dead Machinery's Blog January 11, 2016 […] Source: David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books | Electric Literature […] Reply Ron Pavellas January 12, 2016 Gratifying to see this book on the list: “The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes Reply Karin March 11, 2016 Yes, that was my favorite title of the list. josh January 11, 2016 good list! Reply Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Morning Bites: Hilton Als on David Bowie, Hannah Lew’s Recommendations, Laird Barron’s Latest, Helen McClory Interviewed, and More January 11, 2016 […] read Hilton Als’s incisive piece about his life and work. Electric Literature has a list of Bowie’s 100 favorite books, and in 2014, Jem Aswad looked back at Bowie’s […] Reply Death of a Waugh Fan | The Evelyn Waugh Society January 11, 2016 […] He was unusually widely read for a popular musician, and one of his fans posted the list of his 100 favorite books from his Facebook page a few years back. Among these is Waugh's Vile Bodies. As mentioned in a […] Reply -En 5 minutos, David Bowie explica las razones de su vigencia y genialidad (VIDEO) | Útero.Pe MAD January 11, 2016 […] en los últimos 50 años. Su influencia no se ha limitado a la música, sino que ha saltado a la literatura, los cómics, el cine, la televisión, el teatro, la comunidad gay, la ciencia ficción y hasta […] Reply Curation is the new obituary: 8 ways media outlets marked Bowie’s life and death [now 12] | Online Journalism Blog January 11, 2016 […] (or perhaps more likely, just googling ‘Bowie’s favourite books’), Electric Lit pulled together a list. Why they didn’t format it, or just embed the original linked posting (shown below) I […] Reply Ashes to ashes | Blejk, Fejt & Fab January 11, 2016 […] Han hade även ganska fantastisk boksmak. […] Reply RIP DAVID BOWIE - Riot Fest January 11, 2016 […] David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books […] Reply DAVID BOWIE'S 100 FAVORITE BOOKS! (ELECTRIC LITERATURE) - PleaseKillMe® January 11, 2016 […] READ MORE AT: David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books | Electric Literature […] Reply David Bowie on the Internet: Links You Need to See | Flavorwire January 11, 2016 […] has something to do with Bowie’s amazing taste in books, as seen in this list over at Electric Literature. We’ve made an effort to not include these sorts of things in this brief Bowie post, but […] Reply A Solitary Candle | The Obituarist's Diary January 12, 2016 […] not to say I loved every song or film, but I loved his willingness to try, to push himself, to learn, and to […] Reply Y Mills January 12, 2016 RIP Bowie The list is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3N0ODE0BS6YZE/ref=cm_wl_list_o_1? Reply SherrieMiranda January 12, 2016 Hello Ms. (or Mr.?) Mills, Is the Amazon list the same? It doesn’t look like it. Perhaps more recently updated? Curious . . . Peace, Sherrie Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y Reply Nicola Koh January 12, 2016 Good list, but surprisingly short of women (I counted about ten) and ethnic minorities, given how progressive, dare I say revolutionary, Bowie was for a white male. Does anyone have any insight on this? Do you think it might be a reflection of just the complete lack of diversity in publishing during many of the decades of Bowie’s life? Reply SherrieMiranda January 12, 2016 Considering you are talking about the last 60 years, these were the most diverse times in the history of publishing. So, no, that can not be the reason. People will always surprise us, no matter the time. But considering that Bowie read a lot of nonfiction, that may have made a difference. Also, wasn’t his wife from Africa? I don’t see a single book from an African, let alone an African woman. And there is some great stuff out there. My question is: When was this list put together? That picture looks like Bowie as a high school or college preppie. If the list is from back then, it probably changed a great deal since then. Also, didn’t he have a couple kids with his African wife? That should have changed his perspective too. I am not sure if this is the end all, be all list that it is being touted to be. Perhaps his kids will enlighten us at a later date? Sherrie Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too: Reply TDub January 12, 2016 He might have just liked those authors. Diversity is great and all, but when it comes to your favorite art, you like what you like. Easy as pie, really. Sherri March 31, 2016 The photo that accompanies the list is form an ad campaign to support reading/ libraries. I remember it from my time working at the N.Y.P.L. I went to McNally Jackson Bookstore on Prince Street here in N.Y.C., who had a window and table display of his top 100 books. I personally found his list to be very interesting as did another shopper. For me, he seemed to embrace a couple of titles that specifically looked at the African American urban experience. There were three titles that I would also include on my list: The Great Gatsby, Madame Bovary – would be among them. The list made me long to see his library, which I would imagine to be rather large. In an interview with Jonathan Ross, he stated that he wanted to be around for his daughter Lexi to help her through the dictionary and build her library up. Darren Cane January 13, 2016 I think he was an intelligent person who read what he wanted. As we all should. It would be lovely if the book shaming would end. We’re now vaguely implying racism/misogyny posthumously for someone who was emphatically neither of those while he was alive. Based on this reading list, I’d say he was a smart, curious, artistic person who read widely and often. Contrary to present belief, reading more women or ethnic writers does nothing to fight bigotry. Although, flying around making judgments on strangers (and the dead) based on a reading list smacks of a kind of puritanical bigotry itself. Reply Ron Pavellas January 14, 2016 Well stated. Thank you for reflecting my view on this PC whining. Nicola Koh January 14, 2016 Mr. Cane: I never implied that Bowie was personally racist or misogynistic; I think rather that you are overly sensitive when it comes to white men being questioned by minorities. Fact: if Bowie had truly been a good and extensive reader, there is little to no chance that his list would be comprised of so many white men. That you are going to challenge this fact shows nothing more than your intense bias towards the accomplishments of white men, a product of your privilege and prejudice. I believe that Bowie worked hard to overcome the bigotry built into white male culture. This list shows that he wasn’t able to get past the racism and sexism of a literary canon that has been produced and regulated by white men, but I still have respect for him for his overall counter-culturalism. I’m afraid the same cannot be said of you. You may call yourself a fan of Bowie, but it is clear that you have not truly listened to his message or taken the things of his heart into yours, which shows that you haven’t respected Bowie—you’ve merely taken what you wanted from him and left the rest on the wayside. Nicola Koh January 14, 2016 Pavellas, I get why you hate political correctness. It entails showing respect to minorities and not being able to voice the bigoted thoughts you have every seven seconds. What happened to the good all days when people used to pat you on the back despite how pathetic a person you are? Ron Pavellas January 14, 2016 You don’t know me and can have no valid opinion about me. Sherri April 11, 2016 I agree. I read what I like, and a lot of it not on the ” Great Books List,” either. I do not know about the Amazon list at all. I did read that his library has 45,000 books, so this top 100 really does nothing more than give us a tiny glimpse into his reading choices. Darren Cane January 15, 2016 I’m a little sensitive, I’ll give you that. I loved David Bowie. When he died I felt somehow that I had lost a friend. I know how that sounds. And I’m tired of the idea of social justice via the ideal reading list. It produces only shame. When I was your age, Nicola, and a great injustice was perceived, we gathered in committees, we organized marches. That was difficult and often fruitless work, but it was the only thing that had changed societies for the better since before Christ. Anyone on the so-called “Left” who stood on the sidelines offering pious lectures on what we should be reading would have been viewed as an irrelevant evangelical obscurantist and an obstacle to progress. That’s because, with books, each of us was interested in what the others had learned from a text. We had no interest in who and what color was the author. Female, male, black, white, brown. Only the ideas mattered. There was (and is) another kind of person who policed reading in this country. They’re called stuffy conservatives, rural librarians, Junior Leaguers, “Christians,” censorious judges, McCarthyites, and other groups of pseudointellectual Joans-of-Arc who perceive cultural erosion and social evil in the manner in which the common person reads. I choose to ignore that type, and his edicts. And women dominate publishing. They make up the vast majority of readers, writers, agents, and editors. Everyone knows that. People of color need a boost in the industry, I accept that. But not by public shaming is this thing attained. It’s by working for tangible social change—changing laws, pressuring power, organizing unions, dismantling corporate power. If you’d stop analyzing dead artists’ reading lists and look out the window, you’d see that. Reply SherrieMiranda January 15, 2016 I still believe this was a very old list. I wish someone would check on that. And check if the Amazon list is the same one. Why would they show Bowie as a very young preppie if this were a more recent choice of books? You guys cab argue about politics until the cows come home, but until I know when that list was made, I will reserve judgement. I really don’t believe he never read any African women since he was married to one. I have ONE friend who is African and because of her, I have read several books written by both African men and women. I do hope someone says something about this. It would be like if I made a list from 1975-80 and that were published in 2026. Peace, Sherrie Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too: On Bowie | 333sound January 12, 2016 […] 1/3 on Low. John Pareles for The New York Times Joe Gross for the Austin American Statesman Electric Literature shared David Bowie’s 100 favorite books Ben Graham for The Quietus Brian Eno shares an email […] Reply Reading Lists: David Bowie | JollyLibrarian January 12, 2016 […] feeling was reinforced when Bowie put his hundred favorite books on his Facebook page in 2013. I glanced over it and didn’t recognize the first few titles I […] Reply claudio January 12, 2016 Inferno is only a part of Divina Commedia… the first “Cantica” Reply On The Death of a Science Fiction Icon: A Celebration of David Bowie’s Life and Legacy « Stack Exchange Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog January 12, 2016 […] David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books – From Electric Literature, based on a Facebook post from Bowie himself in 2013; science fiction entries include A Clockwork Orange, The Wasteland, and 1984 […] Reply Reblog: David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books | Chimaeral January 12, 2016 […] http://electricliterature.com/david-bowies-100-favorite-books/ […] Reply What I’m Into Wednesday: 1/13/16 – Part Time Monster January 13, 2016 […] Electric Literature published this list of Bowie’s 100 favorite books […] Reply Midweek Links: Literary Links from Around the Web (January 13th) | Electric Literature January 13, 2016 […] David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books […] Reply 3 Days 3 Quotes, Day 1: David Bowie’s Quotes – Recharge your day January 13, 2016 […] Bowie was an avid reader and his songs were influenced by the books he read. Here is a list of David Bowie’s top 100 books. How many of them have you […] Reply In case you need something to read: Suggestions from Spaceman – Mrs. Baalke's Island Christian Academy Weblog January 13, 2016 […] David Bowie’s Electric Books […] Reply David Bowie Was a Reader | Lackawanna County Library System January 13, 2016 […] a person reads tells us a lot about them. Explore this side of David Bowie’s life for a view of what made him who he […] Reply David Bowie: Last of the Literate Rock Stars | Acculturated January 14, 2016 […] “Modern Love” because he cast a wide intellectual net outside the recording studio. His list of 100 favorite books includes works by Faulkner, Camus, Muriel Spark, Don DeLillo, T.S. Eliot, Jack Kerouac, and D.H. […] Reply Daily Bee: New Clay Art Gallery. Marshal Revealed. Plus, Boots & Cats | January 14, 2016 […] Trump may lead us into the abyss. Or, courtesy of Montauk Public Library, stay at home and read this list of David Bowie’s Top 100 favorite […] Reply Digitizing the papers of Gabriel García Márquez, Katherine Paterson to attend KidFilm Festival, and more - The Neustadt Prize January 15, 2016 […] tributes to David Bowie flooded the Internet this week. In case you missed it, be sure to check out David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books or visit Brain Pickings to read his answers to the famous Proust […] Reply relirium 2/16 | delirium January 16, 2016 […] eine Klassiker-Diskussion, zu der wir nichts zu sagen haben. Da kann man sich auch für sowas wie Bowies 100 Lieblingsbücher oder gar für den Literaturkritiker Barack Obama interessieren. Spannend vielleicht dort, wo er […] Reply Tuesday Links! | Gerry Canavan January 20, 2016 […] International Marxist Group, “In Defense of Bowie.” A Good Looking Mugshot. David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books. David Bowie’s Dark Past. Last Words. The Longreads. Almost Elrond. “Will Brooker […] Reply Reading resolutions - Barrington Stoke January 21, 2016 […] news of David Bowie’s death reminded me of a list of his Top 100 books and inspired by his pure, visionary genius I am going to read at least some of […] Reply David Bowie 1967 | Meanhood February 16, 2016 […] The importance of being a mime and of passing wasn’t lost on Bowie who listed Nella Larson’s novel Passing as one of his top 100 books. […] Reply End of the Semester Links, Spring 2016 | The Hyperarchival Parallax April 24, 2016 […] And Lincoln Michael, “David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books.” […] Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.