‘Bowie’s Books’: From hairy women to people with 15 lips

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‘Bowie’s Books’: From hairy women to people with 15 lips

He read continually even when he was off his face with relentless cocaine use, and the influence shows

Michele Magwood

You’ll want your headphones and music player handy when you begin Bowie’s Books: The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life (Bloomsbury), Google sitting open on a nearby screen, and your chosen book site ready for orders. It is a warren of literary rabbit holes, like Jorge Luis Borges’s “garden of forking paths” that leads the reader down a rich and rare labyrinth.

David Bowie was a rock star like no other, slipping personas on and off with a speed and ingenuity that make Madonna and Lady Gaga look sluggish. Transformation was the key to his brilliance, and much of the fuel for that transformation came from reading.

In 1975, the London Sunday Times reported that Bowie hated planes so much that he travelled across the US by train, carrying his mobile library in special trunks that opened out with all his books neatly displayed on shelves. They carried some 1,500 titles. Even when he was off his face with his relentless cocaine use (as he was in 1975), he read continually...

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