As you may or may not know, I’m a fairly big fan of David Bowie (I have a tattoo of the ‘Bowie’ lightning bolt on my forearm) and I work in a book shop, so when I came across the hashtag #BowieBookClub on Twitter at the start of this week, I was automatically intrigued. It turns out that Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones has decided to start a book club from the list of his father’s favourite books as a way to honour his memory.


I haven’t been able to find a written source of this, but I’m fairly sure the ‘Book Club’ is going to be one book per month in 2018, but I’ve decided to take it one step further. Back in the early 2000s, Bowie uploaded a list of his 100 favourite books of all time on his Facebook page and if you google ‘Bowie’s 100 books’, a helpful Guardian article with the list also pops up. These are the same lists that Duncan Jones is going to be picking the books from, so I’ve simply decided to read everything on the list over the course of this year!


I’m not too sure if my challenge is going to work, however, as after doing the maths I’ve discovered that I’ll have to read one book every 4 days of the year, and it’s the 12th of January and I haven’t even finished the first one yet! I’ve only read about 3 of the books on the list so these past 12 days are probably all I can afford to slack! Some of the books on the list are most likely going to be out of print or hard to source as well, so maybe I’ll have a further grace period down the line.


The official book for January is Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor and I’m currently about 3 chapters in. I’ve heard a lot about how this book is hard to find, but my work have about 5 copies to hand, so maybe pay a visit to your local Waterstones! It’s a fairly thin book, but it makes up for this by being partly written in 17th century English (my favourite spelling so far is ‘darknesse’ for ‘darkness’). The basic premise is that, in the 17th century, some guy was entrusted to build a handful of new churches. However, he’s secretly a bit batshit and decides to hide all kinds of creepy pagan stuff like human sacrifices in the churches. Centuries later, in the 1950s, a detective is trying to solve murders that have taken place in said churches but, of course, things get creepy and weird fairly quickly.


I’m not gonna lie, it’s a hard read. I have a degree in English, AND I’ve read War & Peace, and I’m kinda struggling with Hawksmoor. It doesn’t give much away, which, usually would be fine, but when half of it is already incredibly opaque, you end up having to really seriously concentrate on every sentence. I’ve taken to reading the olde Englishe parts out loud to myself, like I used to when I read Shakespeare at uni, which is helping me get the gist a little quicker.


I’ve already decided the next book I’m going to read off the list is going to be A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I’ve wanted to read it for so many years already, and I even have a copy of it on my bookshelf.  Hopefully that way I’ll also get the weird language books out the way quickly then too!


I’ve put the full list of 100 books at the end of this post, just in case any of you are interested. If you’ve read any of these books and can recommend them to me, I’d be super grateful as I need to get my speedy reading skates on if I’m going to complete this list by the end of 2018!

David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books

(Just so you know, this list is in absolutely no order at all, I’ve no idea which was his FAVOURITE favourite)

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)
Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945)

(List taken from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/01/david-bowie-books-kerouac-milligan)

One Comment Add yours

  1. Katie Rose says:

    What a great idea Poppy! Sure you’ll smash it.

    Liked by 1 person

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