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David Bowie's top 100 books

11 January 2016

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With the sad news of David Bowie's passing, we take a look back at some of his favourite books as revealed in an exhibition in Ontaro back in 2013.

The Bowie story itself is well known and with his popularity over the years, there isn't much that fan's don't already know about him. His reading list was displayed as part of the David Bowie is exhibiition spanning five decades and featuring more than 300 objects from Bowie's personal arhive. After it's success at the Victoria and Albert museum in London, it went on to tour much of the world, displaying a range of instruments, lyrics and sketches from the performer himself accompanied with some of his legendary costumes and set designs. 

During his 40 years on stage, he managed to experiment with a multitude of genres and styles blending rock, punk, electronic, dance pop and soul, selling more than 7 million copies of his 1983 album Lets Dance and having further successes in production, creating albums with Lou Reed, Iggy Pop . Most famously he'll be remembered by the hits 'Heroes', 'Changes', 'Under Pressure', 'Suffragette City and 'Fame', selling more than 100 million records worldwide.

Bowie played his last live performance back in 2006 at a New York charity concert, and after almost a decade of silence released a studio album entitled 'The Next Day' hitting the number one spot for the first time in 20 years. His latest album Blackstar is set to top the charts again with his passing this morning, only two days after release, serving as a musical epitaph to the man with many faces.

His list of books alone, offers an insight into the man behind the rockstar, with titles such as A clockwork Orange exploring his often bleak outlook reflected in some of his lyrics, with The Wasteland from T.S. Eliot further supporting his love for the bleak. An American Way of Death looks at the abuses of power in funeral homes across the states back in 1963. George Orwell's political novel 1984 is in there too, and accompanied with Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh you can get a feel for the type of political satire he enjoyed. Some more inquisitive reads like Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders - an insight into the Museum of Jurassic technology cement his curiosity into the weird and obscure, although watching the film Labryinth proved that.

Take a look at some of his favourites (in no particular order) and immerse yourself into the world of Bowie's mind!


  • 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 Ginzbur

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