Tag: literature

In Memoriam: David Bowie’s Top 100 Favorite Books

Click here to read at The New York Public Library blog. (And thanks to Lauren Weiss for blogging this info!)


David Bowie art by aerokay

I love looking at people’s reading recommendation lists. It’s fun to find out a respected reader’s tastes intersect with my own, but I also learn a lot by noting the books I’ve never heard of.

Some of my and David Bowie’s shared “book hits”: Lolita, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Madame Bovary, Black Boy, The Waste Land, 1984and, to my great surprise, Nella Larsen’s Passing  the story of an African-American woman of Danish descent who’s forced to confront the implications of her mixed-race and bicultural identity.

Some of Bowie’s choices, however, I’m completely unfamiliar with: Flaubert’s Parrot, Before the Deluge, Zanoni, Strange People, and The Street, to name only a few. My “to read” list is already long and ever-growing, but I can’t help adding titles like these, even when my reading aspirations start to feel absurdly ambitious.

If I were to make my own list, I’d be hard pressed to think of 100 favorite books, even as a former English major and a longtime reader. Perhaps when I’m 69, I’ll have as long of a list. Here is what I have so far.

Thank you, David, not just for the years and years of magic and music, but for the literary inspiration, as well.



Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”: On the Masterful Creepiness of Merricat

By , Tor.com


I came to the Shirley Jackson party late. The first thing I read was The Haunting of Hill House, WeHaveAlwaysLivedInheCastleand that was just last year. On my way to the park for a lunchtime walk and brain-clearing, I pulled a parcel from the post box. In the park I didn’t refrain from tearing open said parcel because, well, book. I did laps whilst reading this tremendously weird tale, and by the time I returned home there was a kind of strange translucent wallpaper over my vision, an image of Hill House superimposed on the things of my everyday life. That’s kind of disturbing.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about—Hill House (not sane, but brilliant) led me to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and the thoroughly magnificently malignant creation, Mary Katherine Blackwood. Merricat, with her strange acts of sympathetic magic, her even stranger magical thinking, and her almost complete lack of conscience—I say “almost” because she does seem to know she’s doing wrong, but she shrugs and does it anyway because it’s all in the service of what she believes is required.
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