David Bowie’s obsession with reading says something worthwhile about the connection between fiction and creativity.
David Bowie was fairly unique as far as mainstream musicians go in that he wrote his own music — creative and incredibly original music that had a fantastical, otherworldly feel to it.
It was a stark (at times off-putting) contrast to the testosterone-charged Rock n’ Roll norm the world had grown accustomed to.
Bowie seemed to celebrate the outcasts by painting himself as an outcast both figuratively and literally… in a place about as far away from humanity as one can get; outer space.
Take the song that launched his career, Space Oddity, released just a week before Neil Armstrong touched down on the moon, where Bowie writes…
“Am I sitting in a tin can. Far above the world. Planet Earth is blue. And there’s nothing I can do.”
Between his whimsical lyrics and ornate alter egos, he felt like something out of fiction…
And, he was.
When he wasn’t recording and touring, he was reading…
“I’m a real self-educated kind of guy. I read voraciously. Every book I ever bought, I have. I can’t throw it away. It’s physically impossible to leave my hand! Some of them are in warehouses. I’ve got a library that I keep the ones I really really like. I look around my library some nights and I do these terrible things to myself… I count up the books and think, how long I might have to live and think, ‘Fuck, I can’t read two-thirds of these books.’ It overwhelms me with sadness.”
Perhaps his greatest testament to books took place in the moments leading up to his death, where he gifted the world, not a lesson, not an autobiography but a list of the top 100 books he ever read.
I imagine all of us could do worse things than to read a handful of the works on this list.
(If you’d like to peruse his these titles, New York Public Library has compiled the list here).
By Cole Schafer.
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Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on April 27, 2020.