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Book Review: Bowie's Books

Bowie's Books by John O'Connell

Page length: 288 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction, Music, Biography

Publication Date: 14 November 2019

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Source: ARC via NetGalley

Stars: 5 out of 5


Three years before he died, David Bowie made a list of the one hundred books that had transformed his life - a list that formed something akin to an autobiography. From Madame Bovary to A Clockwork Orange, the Iliad to the Beano, these were the publications that had fuelled his creativity and shaped who he was.

In Bowie's Books, John O'Connell explores this list in the form of one hundred short essays, each offering a perspective on the man, performer and creator that is Bowie, his work as an artist and the era that he lived in.

Bowie's Books is not only further details on David's Bowie's personal recommendations of books to read, it reveals a unique insight into one of the greatest creative minds of our times and the legacy that Bowie left behind.

My Review:

A must-read for Bowie Fans. I feel it undiscovered more about David Jones the man, than David Bowie the star. I like David Bowie but I'm not a huge fan so maybe I learned more because of this. Not only about Bowie (the unmade 1984 musical, his Berlin years), I hadn't known the background of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange for example.


Thank you so much the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary electronic copy in return for an honest review. 

For reference:

David Bowie's Top 100 Must Read Books include:

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), n 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)...

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