Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for October: 10/5 Carolina Crimes: Rock, Roll and Ruin 10/12 Alicia Beckman, Blind Faith 10/19 J. Woollcott, A Nice Place To Die 10/26 Carol J. Perry, High Spirits

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Books That Mattered Most to David Bowie by Warren Bull

The Books That Mattered Most to David Bowie

image by Terry O'Neil on Getty Images

Chris O’Leary on Literary Hub reported David Bowie once told a story from 1975 while The Man Who Fell to Earth was being filmed. Relocating from Los Angeles to New Mexico for the shoot, he brought hundreds upon hundreds of books with him, a “traveling library” that he ported in cases large enough to hold an amplifier. His director, Nicolas Roeg, seeing Bowie sifting through piles of books, told him that “your great problem, David, is that you don’t read enough.” Bowie said he didn’t realize for months that Roeg was joking. Instead, he berated himself, asking “What else should I read?”

Among Bowie’s final public statements was a list of his Top 100 books, offered as part of the David Bowie Is museum exhibit.

Here's the top 100 books, taken from
Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
Room At The Top by John Braine
On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
Iliad by Homer
Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Black Boy by Richard Wright
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
McTeague by Frank Norris
Money by Martin Amis
Strange People by Frank Edwards
English Journey by J.B. Priestley
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)
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
The Street by Ann Petry
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
The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
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
Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Teenage by Jon Savage
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
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


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Interesting! I own many of the books on the list.

E. B. Davis said...

I only have some of them, mostly the newer books. Bowie was an interesting guy--and musically gifted. Thanks for the post to keep him in our memories!

KM Rockwood said...

The library of books he had to bring with him is the reason I love my Kindle for some things, like travelling.

That's an interesting list of books. I wonder if I could make a list of my favorites--I bet every time I turned around, I'd remember a book I hadn't put on it and be at a loss as to which one to remove so it would have a place.