Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Man Who Loved Reading: David Bowie's 100 Favourite Books

Wondering what to read during The 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge? Look no further than David Bowie's Top 100 Books.

Bowie is said to have read a book a day. Top that Infomaniac Book Challengers!

Bowie called “reading” his gateway activity to emotional ecstasy.

The following is a list of David Bowie's 100 favourite books, in no particular order:

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 Brodie by 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 Ginzburg

Note: Thanks to LX for telling us about this book list.


  1. Yay! First!

    Although, maybe I don't deserve "First" as I haven't read any of these books...?

    ::considers quitting work to enable more reading time::

    1. The Mistress has read 20 books on this list...a mere fraction.

      And there's a few I haven't even heard of before!

    2. Your fraction is still quite a sizeable one fifth. I think that certifies you as well read!

      I must admit, most of these I haven't heard of. Of the few that I have, the Iliad may be one that I read this year - I'm pretty sure there's a copy on my Kindle.

    3. MR. DeVICE: I’ve read the Illiad and the Odyssey, although not in the original language.

      I think I might have to strike “learning Ancient Greek” off my list if I want to get through the 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge.

  2. Five.

    PS: Do Dions die in threes? [braces self]

    1. LX: She was the youngest of 14 children so there could be more to come.

      Did you mean this comment for the previous post?

      *wonders if LX had too many Ziggy Stardust cocktails*

  3. I've only read seven things on Mr B's list (and three of those are magazines, which probably don't really count)... Jx

    1. JON: If magazines count for Bowie, they count for you too...

      Except for when it comes to the 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge.

    2. JON: Of course, you read Vulcan just for the articles.

      “Santa’s Xmas Boy Babes,” indeed.

    3. Always well thumbed. Jx

  4. I have read 9 of them... including the comics... I own another couple of them, so maybe I ought to get stuck in.
    I couldn't read a book a day... I need a period of mourning before starting a new book.

    1. MISS SCARLET: I could easily read a book a day but I’d need to hire more houseboys to do the washing up and such.

      I like to give a little time between books to ponder the one I've finished. But yesterday, I didn't last 5 minutes between finishing one and starting another. Public transit will do that to you.

  5. That is quite an impressive list. I've read the Iliad and On the road and Inferno--books on adventures & spirituality in traveling. I passed on The Great Gatsby, 1984, A clockwork orange, and In cold blood--It was when I was avoiding reading dystopian & depressing novels. Oddly enough, I saw the movie versions of these books.

    1. EROS: “Never judge the book by its movie.”

      Which film version of The Great Gatsby did you see? I believe there have been three but I’m losing count.

    2. I think it's impossible to accurately and successfully take a story from a book and put it on the screen--some things just can't be translated nor transferred across mediums without loss or changes, and that's ok.

      I saw the Robert Redford & Mia Farrow version and I thought, "Man, this movie is long." Not a good sign if I think the time I used to watch the movie would've been better spent on reading the book the movie was based on. I've not seen the Leonardo Dicaprio version; I think I'll read the book first then see it.

    3. EROS: I had to turn off the Leonardo Dicaprio version of The Great Gatsby after 20 minutes. Not recommended by The Mistress.

  6. i'm sure david would've been flattered that you posted this list.

  7. I've read six on the list, two of which are comics. Are we to compile a list of our own favourite 100 books?

    1. MITZI: Compile your own list? Not necessary but The Mistress wouldn’t dream of holding you back.

      The only requirement for the 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge is to READ MORE BOOKS! It’s a personal challenge rather than a competition. Even one book every couple of months is better than none.

  8. Interesting list. Christa Wolf ? Well well ... Döblin, some Orwell, Bellow - the rest I don't know.
    Jessica Mitford - ?
    The Iliad ? Today I'd touch it only in a good translation. Has some drive from the start, den ZORN mir singe oh Muse, it's an Italo Western.

    1. MAGO: “The American Way of Death” by Jessica Mitford was a 1963 exposé of the funeral industry. She was an excellent investigative journalist.

      I just finished reading a book of her essays, “Poison Penmanship.”

    2. Ich liebe dich... that sounds a lot like "I love dick."