John Harris

Journalist & Author

Strange fascination: The best David Bowie books

There are surprisingly few good books about the late star – but, as a new collection of reminiscences by friends is published, we pick out the heroes of the Bowieography

Alongside the supremely well-read Bob Dylan, David Bowie was probably popular music’s most bookish star. Christopher Isherwood was an obvious influence on his so-called Berlin period; George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four inspired much of his classic album Diamond Dogs. Judging by a much-circulated list of his favourite 100 books released in 2013, he was also a fan of such literary touchstones as William Faulkner, Albert Camus and F Scott Fitzgerald, as well as a range of modern works, from Martin Amis’s Money to the ribald British comic-cum-institution Viz.

It’s a little strange, then, that whereas good books about Dylan and the Beatles extend into the distance, the range of decent texts about Bowie remains relatively small. Such coffee table works as Mick Rock’s The Rise of David Bowie, 1972-1973 (Taschen, 2016) handsomely showcase the visual aspects of his legend; if you want a forensic guide to his songs, dramatic roles, videos and more, you should start with the pretty authoritative A-Z dossier, The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg (Titan), first published in 2000 and most recently updated after its subject’s death. But when it comes to in-depth career histories, there are not many to choose from.

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