Dive into the literary world of David Bowie, Singer-songwriter & Musician.

David Bowie, an iconic figure in the world of music, was known for his eclectic style and groundbreaking contributions to the music industry. Born David Robert Jones in London in 1947, Bowie's career spanned over five decades, during which he reinvented himself and his music numerous times, influencing many genres from glam rock and punk to electronica and pop. His alter egos, most famously Ziggy Stardust, allowed him to explore different musical styles and societal themes, cementing his status as a pioneer of contemporary music and culture. Bowie's hits like "Space Oddity," "Heroes," and "Under Pressure" remain timeless classics that continue to resonate with audiences around the world.

I'm a real self-educated kind of guy. I read voraciously. Every book I ever bought, I have. I can't throw them away. It's actually a burden.❞ — David Bowie

Bowie's intellectual pursuits extended far beyond music; he was an avid reader with a deep love for literature. His wide-ranging tastes included classics, contemporary novels, historical biographies, and philosophical texts. This love of books not only influenced his songwriting—often weaving complex narratives into his lyrics—but also informed his views on life and art. Bowie's personal library was extensive, reflecting his voracious appetite for knowledge and his interest in a plethora of subjects, from the occult to modern art. His reading habit fed into his artistic process, often providing inspiration for his music videos, stage designs, and public personas.

David Bowie's Favorite Books

Last Updated: June 2024

Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective

Arthur Danto explores the philosophy and complexities of contemporary art, discussing how art has evolved in meaning and practice since the era of Andy Warhol, and what these changes reflect about cultural shifts.

Selected Poems of Frank O'Hara

This collection showcases the vibrant, spontaneous, and emotionally expressive poetry of Frank O'Hara, capturing the dynamic essence of urban life and the New York art scene of the mid-20th century.

Flaubert's Parrot

Julian Barnes crafts a unique literary detective story, where an obsessive scholar seeks to find the truth about Gustave Flaubert by investigating a stuffed parrot that once belonged to the writer.

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock

Nik Cohn presents a passionate and stylistic overview of the early years of rock music, from the 1950s to the early 70s, filled with personal anecdotes and vibrant character sketches of the genre's major figures.

Room at the Top

John Braine's novel follows the ambitious Joe Lampton, who seeks social mobility in post-war England through calculated charm and relationships, exploring themes of class, power, and personal integrity.

Nights at the Circus

Angela Carter's novel follows Sophie Fevvers, a circus aerialist who claims to be part woman, part swan, on a fantastical journey from London to Siberia at the turn of the 20th century, blending magical realism with feminist themes.

City of Night

John Rechy's novel is a groundbreaking portrayal of underground life and subculture in the 1960s, following a young man's journey through America's major cities as he grapples with his identity as a gay hustler.

The Trial of Henry Kissinger

Christopher Hitchens presents a scathing examination of Henry Kissinger's involvement in international politics, accusing the former U.S. Secretary of State of committing war crimes and calling for legal accountability.

Money: A Suicide Note

Martin Amis's novel is a darkly comic satire of the excesses of the 1980s, narrated by John Self, an advertising director who spirals into self-destruction amid the decadence and consumerism of London and New York.

The American Way of Death Revisited

Jessica Mitford's exposé revisits and updates her original critique of the American funeral industry, highlighting the often exploitative practices that take advantage of grieving families.

The Street

Ann Petry's novel portrays the struggles of Lutie Johnson, a single black mother in 1940s Harlem striving for economic independence and a better life for her son amidst racism, sexism, and a harsh urban environment.

Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture: 1875-1945

Jon Savage provides a detailed history of the emergence of teenagers as a distinct demographic, exploring how their identity was shaped in the years before they were recognized as a significant cultural force.

Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews

This compilation from "The Paris Review" features a series of interviews with some of the twentieth century's most influential writers, providing rare and profound insights into their writing processes and literary techniques.

On Having No Head

D.E. Harding's philosophical work challenges the reader's everyday perspective of self by exploring the idea of a "headless" way of being, using a unique blend of experiential exercises and contemplative practices to question the fundamental nature of experience and identity.

Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s

Otto Friedrich provides a vivid portrayal of Berlin during the Weimar Republic, a period marked by cultural flourishing as well as political and social turmoil, illustrating the city's influential arts scene and the shadows of impending disaster.

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Yukio Mishima's novel explores the stark and often disturbing clash between traditional Japanese values and the nihilistic ethos of modern youth, through the story of a group of young boys and a sailor they idolize and ultimately betray.

The Coast of Utopia Trilogy 'Voyage', 'Shipwreck', 'Salvage

Tom Stoppard's trio of plays explores the philosophical and political upheavals of 19th-century Russia through the lives and intellectual struggles of pre-revolutionary reformers and thinkers.

Last Exit to Brooklyn: A Novel

Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel presents a gritty, unflinching look at the lives of the residents of an impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood, exploring themes of violence, sexuality, and survival in a chaotic urban environment.

Fingersmith

Sarah Waters' novel set in Victorian England intricately plots the lives of two women, a pickpocket and a lady, whose fates are intertwined in a story filled with deceit, betrayal, and unexpected twists.

Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson

Camille Paglia offers a provocative analysis linking the development of Western culture to the interplay between sexuality and art, tracing its influence through various historical figures and artworks.

Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie

Muriel Spark's novel depicts an unorthodox teacher in a conservative girls' school in Edinburgh, whose influence over her young students molds their education and outlook with sometimes questionable ethics and personal consequences.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel combines magical realism and historical commentary, telling the tragic and humorous story of Oscar, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey, who dreams of becoming a writer and finding love.

Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music

Gerri Hirshey provides an in-depth look at the world of soul music, covering its greatest artists and their music, set against the backdrop of social and cultural changes in America during the 1960s and 70s.

White Noise

Don DeLillo's novel satirizes the ubiquity of mass media and the complexity of family dynamics in contemporary America, following a professor who specializes in Hitler studies as he grapples with a toxic airborne event and existential dread.

Life And Times Of Little Richard: The Authorized Biography

Charles White chronicles the flamboyant life and groundbreaking musical career of Little Richard, one of the pioneers of rock 'n' roll, whose energy and style influenced many artists.

A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole's comedic masterpiece features Ignatius J. Reilly, an eccentric, lazy, and philosophically inclined man who embarks on various misadventures in New Orleans, reflecting the city's colorful spectrum of characters.

Wonder Boys

Michael Chabon's novel chronicles a chaotic weekend in the life of a university professor and unsuccessful author as he struggles to manage his complicated love life, finish his overdue novel, and deal with his eccentric students.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Julian Jaynes presents a controversial theory that human consciousness arose as a recent development in history, linked to the breakdown of a previous mind-state where decisions were made through auditory hallucinations believed to be the voices of gods.
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Darkness at Noon: A Novel

Arthur Koestler's powerful political novel set during the Stalinist purges and Moscow show trials of the 1930s, follows an aging revolutionary, Rubashov, as he undergoes imprisonment and psychological torture, questioning his past beliefs and the morality of his political actions.

Earthly Powers

Anthony Burgess's sweeping novel explores the life and times of a homosexual writer who traverses the significant historical and cultural shifts of the 20th century, questioning themes of power, religion, and morality.

In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture

George Steiner's series of essays critically examines modern Western culture, questioning its progress and sustainability in the wake of historical atrocities and shifting moral landscapes.

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

Lawrence Weschler explores the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, delving into its collection of scientific wonders and curiosities that challenge the boundaries between the real, the improbable, and the fake.

1984

George Orwell's dystopian novel depicts a totalitarian regime under the omnipresent surveillance of Big Brother, where individuality and free thought are crushed, warning of the dire consequences of political authoritarianism.

The Songlines

Bruce Chatwin offers a fascinating blend of travel narrative and philosophical inquiry into the Australian Aboriginal people's traditional network of 'Songlines,' pathways that crisscross the continent, through which they navigate and maintain their culture.

Inside the Whale

A collection of essays by George Orwell, including the famous title essay which analyzes the social and political environment leading up to World War II, as well as literary criticism and reflections on the role of the writer.

The Age of American Unreason

Susan Jacoby critiques the decline of intellectual and rational thought in American society, linking historical trends with contemporary issues in culture and politics that celebrate ignorance over knowledge.
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Journey into the Whirlwind: The Critically Acclaimed Memoir of Stalin's Reign of Terror

Eugenia Ginzburg's harrowing account of her eighteen-year ordeal in the Soviet gulag system provides an intimate and devastating look into the brutalities of Stalin's political purges.

Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov's controversial masterpiece narrates the obsessive and doomed love of Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged literature professor, for Dolores Haze, a prepubescent girl, exposing dark themes under the guise of eloquent prose.
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A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924

Orlando Figes provides a comprehensive and empathetic account of the Russian Revolution, weaving individual stories with the larger historical narrative to illustrate the human cost and the social and political upheaval that transformed Russia.

Puckoon

Spike Milligan's comedic novel is set in 1924, centered around the fictional Irish village of Puckoon, where the boundary commission has divided the village in two, leading to a series of absurd and hilarious consequences for the locals.

The Master and Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov's fantastical, satirical novel features the Devil visiting Soviet Russia, intertwining the lives of Margarita, her beloved Master who is an oppressed writer, and historical figures, ultimately exploring themes of good and evil, love, and redemption.
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The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness

R.D. Laing's groundbreaking psychological work examines the nature of self and the struggle for authenticity as central themes in the experiences of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, challenging traditional views on mental illness.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac's seminal Beat novel, based on his own travels across America, captures the spirit of freedom and longing for meaning through the adventures of Sal Paradise and his charismatic friend Dean Moriarty.
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Tales of Beatnik Glory

Ed Sanders offers a series of interconnected stories set in the 1950s and 60s that capture the essence of the Beat and countercultural movements across America, reflecting on the era's influence and the lives of its people.

Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Anatole Broyard recounts his post-WWII years in Greenwich Village, a vibrant and bohemian hub, where he navigated young adulthood and intellectual awakening among influential writers and artists.
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