Bowie as Ziggy

David Bowie Toured with a Traveling Bookcase of More Than 400 Books!

David Bowie has been inspiring generations since he first performed on the British television program Top of the Pops in 1972. He was one of the first artists to come to the stage in a style completely unique and truly his own. His albums were centered around characters and storylines much like that of audiobooks, and he always wore the most elaborate and stunning gender-bending costumes; delivering a performance unlike anything ever seen before. He trained in acting and mime, wrote poetry, painted portraits, talked about his dream of becoming a novelist, not only wrote his own music but also wrote top hits for other rock n’ roll icons, and was never afraid to dive into some new form of medium and try his hand at creating.


There is a reason Bowie surpassed normal, rockstar fame to become the immortal, influential icon he is today: as if he wasn’t poignant or provoking enough, he also really (and I mean really) loved his books; so much so that the day after his passing the LA Times released a list of David Bowie’s top one-hundred must-read books. Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, even helped found the David Bowie Book Club in the wake of his death.


David Bowie library poster


Image Via Twitter


Throughout his life, Bowie was an avid reader of anything and everything:


Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.


He loved books so much so that, when he flew to Mexico in 1976 to film The Man Who Fell to Earth, he was so nervous to leave his beloved books behind that he decided to bring a case filled with all four-hundred of them along for the ride.


I was dead scared of leaving them in New York, because I was knocking around with some dodgy people and I didn’t want them nicking any of my books.


Bowie found he loved traveling with his paperback collection so much so, he decided to bring it along with him on tour.


I had these cabinets – it was a traveling library – and they were rather like the boxes that amplifiers get packed up in…because of that period, I have an extraordinarily good collection of books.


Bowie traveling bookcase

Image Via Thirteen


I was lucky enough to see the cabinets at the closing of the David Bowie Is exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum last weekend and it was everything you’d imagine it to be; the most perfect and compact traveling bookshelf filled with the works of Anthony Burgess, George Orwell, Frank O’Hara, Truman Capote, Fran Lebowitz, and more.


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, ‘F**k, I can’t read two-thirds of these books.’ It overwhelms me with sadness.


However, in spite of his great love of all things written, Bowie himself never quite got around to writing that novel, nor the autobiography he dreamed of someday publishing:


I’m looking for backing for an unauthorized autobiography that I am writing. Hopefully, this will sell in such huge numbers that I will be able to sue myself for an extraordinary amount of money and finance the film version in which I play everybody.


Still, it comes as no shock that David Bowie knew what he was doing when it came to picking out the perfect books; he was a being from another planet somewhere up in the cosmos who knew exactly the words us mere mortals would need to read (and the exact music we would need to hear).


I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring…








Featured Image via StyleCaster