Julie's Reviews > Bowie's Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie's Life

Bowie's Bookshelf by John O'Connell
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Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell is a 2019 Gallery Books publication.

Because reading is, among much else, an escape—into other people, other perspectives, other consciousnesses. It takes you out of yourself, only to put you back there infinitely enriched.

This is such a cool little book! I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway and was smitten with it the instant I laid eyes on it.

Book people tend to like other book people, and Bowie should get a nod of approval from voracious readers, even if you are more of a casual fan, because -as his son, Duncan, has pointed out, he was a ‘beast of a reader’. In 2013, David drew up a list of a hundred books that had influenced him the most.

I had never seen or read his list before now. Naturally, I was very curious to see what books might have influenced someone as diverse as David Bowie. However, I was a little worried that I might not know any of the books on the list. I had imagined David Bowie’s taste in reading material would differ vastly from my own simple taste.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by how many books on the list that I recognized. That doesn’t mean I’ve read them, just that I’d at least heard of them. In truth, I’ve only read three books on his list. But I plan to add more than a handful of them to MY list.

Naturally, Bowie was well read and had a wide range of interests. The list itself is very telling. What John O’Connell has done here, is to write a brief composition about each book, speculating on how or why it may have made an impression on Bowie.

One would have to know Bowie pretty well, I’d think, to assume such a task, but the author did an admirable job, in my opinion. Since I’ve only read three of the books, I can’t really speak to how close to the mark O’Connell’s theories were, but it was fun to read his hypothesis, even if a few of them were a bit odd. Sometimes, the influence is very clear, though, and I had a few “a ha” moments while reading these essays.

There were some interesting tidbits about Bowie sprinkled throughout as well- including how he traveled by train, never in airplanes, and carried with him an entire trunk full of books, neatly arranged.

The author also gives readers a suggested Bowie tune to listen to while reading each specific title on the list.

I thought this book was unique and original, and is one that Bowie fans will relish, and book lovers will cherish. The book is insightful and informative, maybe a little nostalgic and poignant, but also really fun too!

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Reading Progress

July 19, 2019 – Shelved
July 19, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
July 19, 2019 – Shelved as: e-book
July 19, 2019 – Shelved as: edelweiss-review
October 30, 2019 – Started Reading
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: books-about-books
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: giveaways
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: goodreads-first-read
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: hardcover
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: music
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: biography
January 2, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 53 (53 new)


message 1: by Ceecee (new)

Ceecee Sounds really interesting- I knew he was a voracious reader though no idea how I knew! Great review 🤗


message 2: by Kaceey (new)

Kaceey Terrific review Julie! A new side of Bowie I never knew about!🤗💖


message 3: by Paige (new)

Paige How interesting Julie! What an interesting book to win, congrats :)


message 4: by Dita (new)

Dita How cool is this? Great review!


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy I've heard of this and it sounds fascinating. I love to hear why other people read what they read. Great review!


Julie Ceecee wrote: "Sounds really interesting- I knew he was a voracious reader though no idea how I knew! Great review 🤗"

Thank you, Ceecee!! Same here. Maybe I remembered that 'Read" poster he made back when.


Julie Kaceey wrote: "Terrific review Julie! A new side of Bowie I never knew about!🤗💖"

Thank you, Kaceey!! David was a brilliant chameleon! He had so many personas- I'm glad reading brought him such pleasure! 💖


message 8: by Karen (new)

Karen Great review Julie! I have been checking out Bowies list of books since I saw it a few months ago. He was extremely well read!


Brenda -Traveling Sister Fantastic review, Julie!


Julie Amy wrote: "I've heard of this and it sounds fascinating. I love to hear why other people read what they read. Great review!"

Thank you, Amy!! I think you might like this little book. Some of the author's guesses at why David added a book to this list was a little far fetched on occasion, but mostly I thought he made good points. 💖


Julie Dita wrote: "How cool is this? Great review!"

Thank you, Dita!! It is a really cool little book. I had fun with it! 💖


message 12: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Terrific, Julie! Happy New Year!


Julie Paige wrote: "How interesting Julie! What an interesting book to win, congrats :)"

Thank you, Paige! It is a very interesting book. The print copy is short and fat. Really cute. 💖


Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! Fabulous review, Julie!


message 15: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Sounds like a good one Julie, terrific review 🤗💕


Julie Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie!"

Thank you very much, Norma! 💖


Julie Maureen wrote: "Sounds like a good one Julie, terrific review 🤗💕"

Thanks so much, Maureen! 💖


message 18: by Diane (new)

Diane Wallace Terrific review, Julie! 'Happy 2020' ;)


message 19: by Sandra (new)

Sandra What an intriguing little book! Lovely review Julie 💕


Julie Tammy wrote: "Terrific, Julie! Happy New Year!"

Thank you, Tammy!! Happy New Year!! 💖😊💖


Julie Diane wrote: "Terrific review, Julie! 'Happy 2020' ;)"

Thank you very much, dear Diane!! Happy 2020- Let's hope it's a good one! 💖


Julie Sandra wrote: "What an intriguing little book! Lovely review Julie 💕"

Thank you, Sandra!! It is a very eclectic group of books. It was fun analyzing Bowie's connection to them. 💖


Julie Karen wrote: "Great review Julie! I have been checking out Bowies list of books since I saw it a few months ago. He was extremely well read!"

Thank you, Karen!! He really was. This is a great list- but I have a feeling it was only the tip of the iceberg! I thought I read a lot! 😁😁


Julie Brenda -Traveling Sister/ Happy New Year, Friends! wrote: "Fantastic review, Julie!"
Thanks so much, Brenda!! 💖


Julie Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie!"

Thanks so much, Norma!! 💖


message 26: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Fantastic review Julie, sounds interesting! :)


message 27: by Angela M (new)

Angela M Excellent review, Julie .


Julie Sandra wrote: "Fantastic review Julie, sounds interesting! :)"

Thanks so much, dear Sandra!! 💖


Julie Angela M wrote: "Excellent review, Julie ."

Thank you very much, Angela! 💖


message 30: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Now I'm interested to see what his books that changed his life!!!


Julie Peggy wrote: "Now I'm interested to see what his books that changed his life!!!"

It is a very unique and eclectic list. Some common books, some I had never heard of, and of course some books centered around music. It's worth checking out.💖


message 32: by *TUDOR^QUEEN* (new)

*TUDOR^QUEEN* Terrific review! 💗🌹🌞 Glad you enjoyed it. I kept passing over this one, but it always caught my eye. 👸


Julie *TUDOR^QUEEN* wrote: "Terrific review! 💗🌹🌞 Glad you enjoyed it. I kept passing over this one, but it always caught my eye. 👸"

Thank you, TQ!! You might like this one! 💖


message 34: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret Montalvo That is so cool. I wonder how closely he really tracks Bowie's thought process.


Julie Margaret wrote: "That is so cool. I wonder how closely he really tracks Bowie's thought process."

It is a cool book! On a couple of occasions, the author's guesswork was a bit dubious- but I think he got pretty close, the majority of the time. It made sense to me. 😊😊


Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Fabulous review, Julie! 🙋❤


message 37: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Great review, Julie!!


Julie Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie! 🙋❤"

Thank you, Mary Beth!! 💖


Julie Deanna wrote: "Great review, Julie!!"

Thank you, Deanna!! 💖


message 40: by JanB (new)

JanB Julie, I love that he was such a voracious reader that he traveled with a trunk full of books. Terrific review of what sounds like a fun read!


message 41: by Leila (new)

Leila Really enjoyed your interesting review Julie.


message 42: by David (new) - added it

David R. Dowdy Thanks for the idea. I've always thought of Bowie as an intellectual with a vivid imagination. Certainly someone bubbling with ideas and an artist who had a lot to share. Not surprising he was a voracious reader. Nice that we can look over his shoulder as he reads.


Julie JanB wrote: "Julie, I love that he was such a voracious reader that he traveled with a trunk full of books. Terrific review of what sounds like a fun read!"

Thanks so much, Jan!! 💖


Julie Leila wrote: "Really enjoyed your interesting review Julie."

Thank you, dear Leila!! 💖


Julie David wrote: "Thanks for the idea. I've always thought of Bowie as an intellectual with a vivid imagination. Certainly someone bubbling with ideas and an artist who had a lot to share. Not surprising he was a vo..."

Thank you, David!! I agree. It's no surprise that books influenced his music and imagination. 😊


message 46: by Melike (new)

Melike Sounds very interesting!


Julie Melike wrote: "Sounds very interesting!"

Thanks, Melike!! It really was!! 💖


message 48: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Langford Fantastic review Julie! I’ll have to look at this one- I’d love to see which books Bowie read


Julie Lucy wrote: "Fantastic review Julie! I’ll have to look at this one- I’d love to see which books Bowie read"

Thanks so much, Lucy!! It's certainly diverse- very interesting too. 💖


Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill Wow I am really intrigued after this review 😍 Fantastic review 💕


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