The essential David Bowie reading guide

Books to deepen your knowledge of the late iconic artist

The essential David Bowie reading guide


David Bowie Is
The book accompanying the V&A’s celebrated 2013 exhibition, which gained unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to display intimate artefacts: handwritten lyrics, diary entries and sketches. You can flick through quickly and feel the explosions of colour from his various personas, or probe further via a series of critical essays from the likes of Mark Kermode.

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David Bowie: The Pitt Report
Kenneth Pitt was Bowie’s manager until around the time of his first hit, Space Oddity, and he illuminates Bowie’s formative years with this insightful, anecdote-laced work focusing on a creatively frustrating period in his life. Pitt’s influence is undeniable, though – it was he who first gave Bowie a Velvet Underground record. In 1971 he would release Queen Bitch as a tribute to The Velvets.

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The Complete David Bowie
Everything of note about Bowie rests on one of these 612 pages, which coolly and breezily take you through the details of a constantly shifting, always gripping career. There’s a timeline section that tries to handily condense everything – but still runs to 54 pages. Among many revelations is that the classic Bewlay Brothers was written and recorded in one night.

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David Bowie: An Illustrated Record
Picture-based, and the shape and size of a record – this is the one to flick through and gain a fast-yet-thorough knowledge of this most visual of performers. Compiled by NME journalists, it was feted on release for its pioneering work on cracking the Bowie enigma.

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Pushing Ahead Of The Dame
A song-by-song breakdown of Bowie’s oeuvre, punctuated by direct quotes. On Life On Mars: “This song was so easy. Being young was easy … I took a walk to catch a bus but couldn’t get the riff out of my head. I jumped off after two stops and went back home.” Great trivia on every page – a procrastinator’s dream.

See also: a list of Bowie’s 100 favourite books.

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