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David Bowie reading

100 Books We Should All Read According To David Bowie


Bowie shares an ample and diverse list of books that everybody should include in their personal library.

Saying we have a “favorite” book is far from easy. It frequently unfolds under different circumstances, biographic and technical, historical at times, friendly and rebellious at other. That is why one can have 100 favorite books and avoid exclusivity.

As part of the montage for the David Bowie’s Is exhibition in the Art Gallery of Ontario, a list containing the 100 favorite books of the “Starman” was published. According to him they are mandatory reads for their absolute beauty and satisfaction.

In “Bibliographic Confessions” (in The Madness that comes from the Nymphs), Roberto Calasso says that the bibliography included at the end of Crowds and Power was the first form of autobiographic tale that Elias Canetti embarked on, a writer that would later excel in three extensive volumes where he narrated his life. In the same way, Bowie’s selection reflects the haphazard path of his life that at some point makes sense in its own right: suddenly a title seems out of place but when considered in context it gains sufficient coherence in relation to the group. And, like in the case of Canetti, his autobiographic books and that other form of autobiography that, like Borges eloquently expressed, represents our “personal library”, we can also hold a subjective, individual mirror, in which nonetheless it is possible for anyone to see themselves reflected, whether this is fragmentary.

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, “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)

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