Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

In Memoriam: David Bowie's Top 100 Favorite Books


David Bowie
David Bowie performs at Tweeter Center outside Chicago in Tinley Park,IL, USA on August 8, 2002. Photo by Adam Bielawski

Though one of his songs is titled "I Can't Read", David Bowie was actually quite the voracious reader. In 2013, he posted a list of his top 100 favorite reads on his Facebook page and we're glad he did—Bowie's list of favorites is diverse and eclectic, ranging from poetry to comics to the kind of trippy reads you'd expect Ziggy Stardust to dig. In memory of one of the world's most iconic artists, put on some David Bowie tunes and crack the spine of one of the books that helped shape the legendary musician.

David Bowie's Top 100 Reads:

  1. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
  2. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
  3. Room At The Top by John Braine
  4. On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
  5. Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  7. City Of Night by John Rechy
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  10. Iliad by Homer
  11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  12. Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
  13. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
  14. Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
  15. Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  16. Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
  17. David Bomberg by Richard Cork
  18. Blast by Wyndham Lewis
  19. Passing by Nella Larson
  20. Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
  21. The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
  22. In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
  23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
  24. The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
  25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  26. Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
  27. The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
  28. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  29. Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
  30. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  32. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  33. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  34. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
  35. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  36. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  37. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
  38. Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
  39. The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
  40. McTeague by Frank Norris
  41. Money by Martin Amis
  42. The Outsider by Colin Wilson
  43. Strange People by Frank Edwards
  44. English Journey by J.B. Priestley
  45. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  46. The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
  47. 1984 by George Orwell
  48. The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
  49. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
  50. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
  51. Beano (comic, ’50s)
  52. Raw (comic, ’80s)
  53. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  54. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
  55. Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
  56. Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
  57. The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
  58. Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
  59. The Street by Ann Petry
  60. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  61. Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
  62. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
  63. The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
  64. Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
  65. The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
  66. The Bridge by Hart Crane
  67. All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
  68. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  69. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
  70. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  71. Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
  72. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
  73. Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
  74. Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
  75. Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
  76. The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
  77. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  78. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  79. Teenage by Jon Savage
  80. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
  81. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
  82. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  83. Viz (comic, early ’80s)
  84. Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
  85. Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
  86. The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
  87. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
  88. Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont
  89. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  90. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler
  91. Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  92. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
  93. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  94. The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
  95. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  96. A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
  97. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
  98. In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
  99. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
  100. Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg



Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

I still think, no believe

I still think, no believe that this whole thing is unerUN FRI ENDLY!


tx for publishing the books that David Bowie like to read, did not know what a musical icon he was. an american in Canada.

David Bowie's Top 100

Bummer. I have only read 2 and own another 2 that I plan to read soon. And I read widely - I guess we just didn't have the same taste in books. RIP BOWIE!

This is shameful. How dare

This is shameful. How dare you profit off the man's death. And don't tell me that because you are a "non-profit" you aren't benefitting. You are doing this to get more people in the library which drives circulation which requires more books, more people, and hence more money in your public budget. Sickening.


This list has been widely available for years. Bowie published it in some interview or article years ago. There are plenty of things to be outraged about in this world. The NYPL helpfully publishing a list that many people are interested in is not one of those things.

Not shameful at all - interesting & helpful information instead

What is "shameful" is someone who passes judgment and claims "ulterior motives" directed at a site containing an article - discovered freely on the internet - that actually promotes literacy. I think David Bowie would be thrilled to contribute to furthering education - after all, why would he have shared the information otherwise? The fact is, it was an article on that led me to this page. One of their columnists has a book on David Bowie's incredible list - she gave him the credit for inspiring her to write the book in the first place (see title and link below). As a former college librarian of 12-plus years, I can attest that libraries are the first departments put on the chopping block when the phrase "budget crisis" looms - much to the detriment of its patrons, whether they're students, faculty or the general public. The book mentioned is #75. "Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson" by Camille Paglia. I am also a poet who was initially inspired by Emily Dickinson, so that's even more of a referral for me. The collection is indeed eclectic and powerful, a wide-ranging and wonderful compilation including classic literature by well-known authors. I am happy to have discovered this today. David Bowie continues to share his many gifts even after his passing. Rest in Peace, Sir - and thank you - for everything.


there are plenty of things to be angry and feel shameful towards people for - hunger/poverty, the economy/job market, presidential candidates/politics, war, famine, etc... a list of books that the legend David Bowie read and had once posted on his facebook page - is not one of them. #priorities #chillax

How dare. Yes Ken S, how

How dare. Yes Ken S, how terrible to post something which might encourage Americans to read more than one stupid book (the buy-bull) Get a grip.

Funny! How dare they

Funny! How dare they encourage people to read!

David Bowie's favorite books

Thanks for making this list accessible: Why else would DB have written it?

Isn't this guy just being

Isn't this guy just being tongue in cheek? Sure he's not serious...

David Bowie's 100 book list

Thank you for sharing this, I hope to read some of these soon.


Yes, it's all part of the diabolical plan of the public library - dangling information to trick the unsuspecting public into (gasp) reading. I feel Bowie would approve.

Bowie was a supporter of

Bowie was a supporter of literacy and libraries so actually, I figure he'd be completely on board with a library posting what books he liked. Case in point:

oh for heaven sake.. public

oh for heaven sake.. public libraries are precious and everyone needs them god bless Australia!

I believe Bowie was an avid

I believe Bowie was an avid supporter of NYPL. Why are you so exercised?


Was surprised to see the Julian Jaynes book on the list. It has been a major influence on how I think about humans and society. It demonstrates (with a lot of historical and clinical evidence) how man evolved from leader/idol-based objective reasoning to a more individual subjective approach as the connection between the two halves of the brain developed. As a Christian, this idea particularly resonates with me as one considers the transition from Old Testament to New Testament thinking. I strongly recommend this book.

Julian Jaynes book, The

Julian Jaynes book, The Origin of Consciousness..., is one of my all time favorites.

No Cohen?

Impressive list, yet rather surprised nothing from Leonard Cohen.

David Bowie

As we sat in the Soho library reading and writing and was nice to know that the wild and wonderful David Bowie was just a few floors above.....reading and writing...sleeping. It was a comfort knowing that one of the coolest humans on the planet(as opposed to those off the planet) was so close. Now , I think he is even closer- Known for scouring NYC for the right book, David can now rest, having found the ultimate read.

Girl Loves Me

One of the songs on Blackstar, "Girl Loves Me," is written in Nadsat, the language from A Clockwork Orange. I thought it was pretty cool.

Surprised to see no Cormack

Surprised to see no Cormack McCarthy. Not surprised to see Viz.

Wonderful Tribute to Bowie

Everything in this list is incredible, but I especially love that he read some Camille Paglia. Thank you, Bowie, for demonstrating that the arts is viable and important to our world.

another reason to thank Bowie

I remember when this list came out I was not surprised that I had only read a handful of the titles, even though I am a reader. Such was Bowie's mysterious, meandering mind... and, of those I had read, they were mainly sought because of something he said in a lyric. His music sent me more often t the library than the dance floor. The man was a genius on many levels. As my own personal tribute to him, I am planning on reading as many of these as possible

David Bowie's Top 100 Books List

I think the list is just the tip of the iceberg, a glimpse into a library of 45,000 books ( I read that in the blizzard of press coverage after his death) and was surprising for what was not on it, - no Shakespeare, Dickens, or even Ray Bradbury - for example. There were only four titles that I had already read. I have since added two more.

Post new comment