Just when I thought I coudn’t love David Bowie anymore he assembles a list of his favourite books.
One of the only things I like more than David Bowie is lists – so this was kismet of the coolest kind.
His Top 100 is not written in order of preference but rather chronologically – v. Nick Hornby – and shows a different side to the man we know as Ziggy.
From Fitzgerald to Capote there are plenty of must-read classics and a few like The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes that I may have to pass on.
I needed to make my own list in celebration of his.
Here’s my favourite books (in order of preference) taken from his Top 100 and then I had to make a little music one too.
I tell you, lists are an addiction.
Bowie Read. Me Too.
The Great Gatsby: The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
In Cold Blood: The story of the brutal 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter, a successful farmer from Holcomb, Kansas, his wife, and two of their four children.
Wonder Boys: Pittsburgh professor and author Grady Tripp is working on an unwieldy 2,611 page manuscript that is meant to be the follow-up to his successful, award-winning novel The Land Downstairs, which was published seven years earlier. On the eve of a college-sponsored writers and publishers weekend called WordFest, two monumental things happen to Tripp: his wife walks out on him, and he learns that his mistress, who is also the chancellor of the college, Sara Gaskell, is pregnant with his child. To top it all off, Tripp finds himself involved in a bizarre crime committed by one of his students, an alienated young writer named James Leer.
The Trial Of Henry Kissinger: A devastating indictment of the alleged war crimes of Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor and later United States Secretary of State for Presidents Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford, whose ambition and ruthlessness have directly resulted in both individual murders and widespread, indiscriminate slaughter.
In Between The Sheet: A two-timing pornographer becomes an unwilling object in the fantasies of one of his victims. A jaded millionaire buys himself the perfect mistress and plunges into a hell of jealousy and despair. And in the course of a weekend with his teenage daughter, a guilt-ridden father discovers the depths of his own blundering innocence.
A Clockwork Orange: In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, a vicious fifteen-year-old “droog” who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology.
Madame Bovary: The story focuses on a doctor’s wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.
Ninteen Eighty Four: Set in a society terrorised by a totalitarian ideology propagated by The Party, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One finds love with Julia. Together they begin to question the Party and are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101.
The Waste Land: Eliot believed that modern society lacked a vital sense of community and a spiritual center. The waste land of the poem is modern European culture, which had come too far from its spiritual roots.
Lady Chatterly’s Lover: The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper-class husband, Clifford Chatterley, described as a handsome, well-built man, has been paralysed from the waist down due to a war injury. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors.
Best Bowie Tunes.
Changes (1971) – Forty years old and yet it’s cooler and more relevant than ever. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
China Girl (1977) – Written with Iggy Pop during the Berlin years. I wish I’d been there. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Ashes to Ashes (1980) – Changed music. Changed me. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Fashion (1980) – Obviously. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Under Pressure (1981) – Freddie. The End. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
And Now For His Full List…
The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby (2008)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007)
The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard (2007)
Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage (2007)
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters (2002)
The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens (2001)
Mr Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler (1997)
A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes (1997)
The Insult, Rupert Thomson (1996)
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon (1995)
The Bird Artist, Howard Norman (1994)
Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard (1993)
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C Danto (1992)
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia (1990)
David Bomberg, Richard Cork (1988)
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick (1986)
The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin (1986)
Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd (1985)
Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey (1984)
Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter (1984)
Money, Martin Amis (1984)
White Noise, Don DeLillo (1984)
Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes (1984)
The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White (1984)
A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn (1980)
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester (1980)
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler (1980)
Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess (1980)
Raw, a “graphix magazine” (1980-91)
Viz, magazine (1979)
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (1979)
Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz (1978)
In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan (1978)
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed Malcolm Cowley (1977)
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes (1976)
Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders (1975)
Mystery Train, Greil Marcus (1975)
Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara (1974)
Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich (1972)
In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner (1971)
Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky (1971)
The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillett(1970)
The Quest for Christa T, Christa Wolf (1968)
Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn (1968)
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg (1967)
Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr (1966)
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1965)
City of Night, John Rechy (1965)
Herzog, Saul Bellow (1964)
Puckoon, Spike Milligan (1963)
The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford (1963)
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea, Yukio Mishima (1963)
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (1963)
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)
Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell (1962)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark (1961)
Private Eye, magazine (1961)
On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding (1961)
Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage (1961)
Strange People, Frank Edwards (1961)
The Divided Self, RD Laing (1960)
All the Emperor’s Horses, David Kidd (1960)
Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse (1959)
The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1958)
On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957)
The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard (1957)
Room at the Top, John Braine (1957)
A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno (1956)
The Outsider, Colin Wilson (1956)
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (1949)
The Street, Ann Petry (1946)
Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945)