On top of being one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century, David Bowie was also an avid reader—it wasn't unusual for the artist to read a book a day, and he even shared his favorite titles with the public as part of a museum exhibit in 2013. And in Bowie's Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie's Life, music journalist John O'Connell explores the late rockstar's famous reading list, pairing each title with a short essay that examines the influence the book may have had on the performer.
The book's description asks: "How did the power imbued in a single suit of armor in The Iliad impact a man who loved costumes, shifting identity, and the siren song of the alter-ego? How did The Gnostic Gospels inform Bowie’s own hazy personal cosmology? How did the poems of T.S. Eliot and Frank O’Hara, the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov and Anthony Burgess, the comics of The Beano and The Viz, and the groundbreaking politics of James Baldwin influence Bowie’s lyrics, his sound, his artistic outlook?"
While guiding readers through the book list, Bowie's Bookshelf also acts as an unconventional biography of an artist who helped define modern music and pop culture. The performer's reading list was originally featured as part of the "David Bowie Is” exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2013, and it covers a wide range of genres and eras, including 1950s comics, classic epic poetry, and contemporary fiction.
If you're too overwhelmed by the thought of diving into the list head-first, Bowie's Bookshelf is a great place to start. You can purchase it for $16 from Amazon today.
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