Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life

Gallery: S. & S. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781982112547. pap. $18. MUSIC
Three years before he died, chameleon performer David Bowie (1947–2016) made a list of 100 books that changed his life, from pulp fiction and Japanese novels to art and philosophy texts to humor magazines, cartoons, and black magic tomes. O’Connell, former Time Out senior editor and music columnist for the Face, peruses those titles in this collection of breezy essays. The author displays a breadth of knowledge not just about Bowie’s life and his music but also the authors and genres on the list. Each short chapter examines a different work’s effect on Bowie. Occasionally, O’Connell makes assumptions about when Bowie read a book—chapters in which he supplies quotes from the singer/songwriter are stronger—but his thoughts on how Bowie transformed practically everything he consumed into his stage personae are insightful.
VERDICT With illustrations and suggestions for read-alikes and Bowie songs to listen to while reading each book, this is a fun peek at what stirred and shaped a legend. For Bowie fans and devotees of offbeat reading guides.

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