Bowie Book Club

If you are reading this, it has almost certainly not escaped your attention that David Bowie died this week. Or went home, if that makes you feel better. I’ve been a fan of Bowie’s music since I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever realized what a versatile performer and well rounded philosopher he was. It’s been interesting, following the outpouring of grief at his departure from this plane as well as the gratitude for his many valuable contributions. I’m particularly delighted to learn that he was a staunch literacy advocate.

In 2013, Bowie posted a “top 100” list of books, and I have enjoyed perusing it. The link takes you to his official website, where the list is in no particular order. Here I give you my breakdown of what I have and haven’t read and what will probably be on my 2016 reading list.

Books I Have Read:

  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – I have a reading challenge that wants me to re-read something I haven’t read since high school. It would be interesting to see if this story speaks to me as an adult. As a 13-year-old I was bored silly.
  • 1984 by George Orwell – I was supposed to read this for freshman orientation at Drury. Finally got around to reading it last year. I suspect it would have been wasted on me at the time.
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – I read this my junior year of high school. Didn’t understand it one bit. Then a few days after the final, comprehension dawned. ::sigh::
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Another assignment from junior year. Wrote my term paper on the mafia. Loved this book then, but not sure I’d feel that way now.
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – I liked it but had the niggling feeling that I didn’t like it as much as I was supposed to.

One I Tried to Read but Just Couldn’t Finish:

  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Books I’d Like to Read, but Only If I Can Muddle Through in the Original Language:

  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
  • Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Other Things I’ve Been Wanting to Read:

  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  • Iliad by Homer
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  • The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot

Two That Just Do Not Sound Appealing to Me:

  • On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  • A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Things I’d Never Even Heard Of:

  • 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
  • City Of Night by John Rechy
  • The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • 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
  • 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
  • Herzog by Saul Bellow
  • Puckoon by Spike Milligan
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright
  • The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
  • Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
  • McTeague by Frank Norris
  • Money by Martin Amis
  • The Outsider by Colin Wilson
  • Strange People by Frank Edwards
  • English Journey by J.B. Priestley
  • The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
  • 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
  • Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

And now I’m feeling downright ignorant and poorly educated in the extreme. I expect I will do a lot of follow up on this post.



5 thoughts on “Bowie Book Club

  1. I attempted to read ‘On the Road’ and couldn’t stand it! I had no sympathy for any of the characters, and the entire book (well the 2/3 of it that I read) seemed to consist of a group of people driving somewhere, doing something stupid, and then repeating it!

    • Yeah, that’s the impression of it I’ve had of it even when it’s being described by people who loved it.

    • Some of the titles I’ve never heard of sound really interesting. It’ll take me a while, but I plan to look them all up to see which ones make it onto my wish list.

      • I will definitely look for a few. I’m so behind on my reading, I still have stacks of books waiting in cubby holes and shelves. If I add any more, my husband is going to raise an eyebrow! 😉

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