10 Famous Artists’ Favorite Books

Art inspires art, often through different mediums.

Some of the most well known musicians create songs, and even entire albums, based on art that moves and intrigues them.

Netflix’s Someone Great was created after writer and director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson was inspired by Taylor Swift’s 1989, which then encouraged Taylor Swift to write Death By A Thousand Cuts for her latest album, Lover.

Even when artists are not directly inspired by others in their craft, their favorite works of art can provide a deeper meaning to the collection of songs they carefully produce and proudly share.

Without further ado, here are 10 famous artists’ favorite books.

Jimi Hendrix

Known for his love of science fiction (and the whole iconic musician thing), it’s no surprise that Jimi Hendrix had an intense love for sci-fi books ever since he was a kid.

One of his favorites, Night of Light by Philip Jose Farmer, is cited as influencing Hendrix to create the hit song, Purple Haze.

The novel is set on a distant planet that experiences a disorienting radiance every seven years. Touching on topics of religion, good versus evil, and the perception of reality, Night of Light is packed with dream-like imagery to describe the weird, yet unforgettable adventure of the main character John Carmody of Earth .

J. Cole

Featured in his book club, Eye of the Hurricane by Dr. Rubin Carter is one of J. Cole’s favorites.

I never saw the movie with Denzel Washington, but the book is incredible. It’s about a boxer who is a hometown hero in New Jersey because he went to juvie, then the army, made it big as a pro and then was wrongly accused of a triple murder. It’s kind of inspiring – and it makes me think, ‘Man, what have I really done?’

Eye of the Hurricane is an autobiography of a U.S. justice system victim who was wrongfully imprisoned to a decade of solitary confinement.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s favorite book is Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. The collection of poems were written by a poet in 1929 for a cadet at the Theresian Military Academy.

The author’s stance on solitude resonated with Lady Gaga so much that she had a quote from the book tattooed onto her arm.

Translated from German, the tattoo says:
In the deepest hour of the night,
Confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write.
And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer,
and ask yourself, must I write?

Bob Dylan

Highlighted in his 2017 Nobel Lecture in Literature speech, The Odyssey by Homer is one of many books greatly appreciated by Bob Dylan.

The Odyssey is a great book whose themes have worked its way into the ballads of a lot of songwriters: “Homeward Bound, “Green, Green Grass of Home,” “Home on the Range,” and my songs as well.

It is one of the most famous pieces of literature in modern times, and the second oldest extant work of Western literature. Focused on the Greek hero Odysseus, the epic poem details the King of Ithaca’s ten year journey home following the Trojan War.

Kesha

All the way back in 2011, “Blah Blah Blah” singer Kesha told SPIN in an interview that her favorite book was Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins.

Encompassing a wide variety of topics, the novel is best described as absurdist fiction with a romance plot. The love story takes place in a pack of Camel cigarettes and concerns a love affair between an outlaw and a princess.

It’s wild. It’s satirical. It’s very much a Tom Robbins novel.

Jay-Z

Bruce Springsteen

In a 2014 New York Times By the Book interview, Bruce Springsteen expresses his love for the classic Herman Melville novel, Moby-Dick.

I found it to be a beautiful boy’s adventure story and not that difficult to read. Warning: You will learn more about whales than you have ever wished to know. On the other hand, I never wanted it to end.

From the point of view of sailor Ishmael, the 1851 novel follows Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge on the whale that bit off his leg at the knee.

Cher

According to a 2013 interview with Bob Colacello and Andy Warhol, the science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, is Cher’s favorite book.

I read strange things. My favorite book is Stranger in a Strange Land.

The sci-novel tells the story of a human raised by Martians on Mars who leaves the planet to explore Earth. Set in a time period following a third world war, the novel explores topics of religion, culture, and politics.

Nas

Back in 2014, Nas held an AMA in the r/Music subreddit where he was asked what his favorite book was. The multi-platinum rapper answered with autobiography Pryor Convictions by Richard Pryor.

Pryor talks about his difficult childhood, his struggles with drugs, his stand-up career, and more in the autobiography.

Donald Glover

Perhaps for a slightly odd reason, Donald Glover’s favorite book is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

I have an obsession with books about kids with Asperger’s syndrome. I like the way they think – it suits me. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon is great.

Glover is not alone in his adoration for the mystery novel, which has won many awards since its 2003 release. The book follows a 15 year old boy with behavioral difficulties who is accused of killing his neighbor’s dog.

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