Credit: Fionn Kidney

From Bukowski to Hunter S. Thompson: A collection of Amy Winehouse’s favourite books

The life and times of the late jazz-singer extraordinaire Amy Winehouse was a piece of non-fiction littered with intense romance, climatic highs and excruciating lows. Her love of jazz often became a lifeline for Amy in a turbulent life lived in the tabloids but she found solace in many arts.

Winehouse was also a lover of literature and found the romance of the written word to beguiling to avoid in her life and peppered her own work with dripping poetry as well as enjoying others. Below is a collection of the late singer, Amy Winehouse’s favourite books.

Beyond all the column inches on the cover of disreputable newspapers, Amy Winehouse was above all else a very talented musician. Gifted, in fact. Her vocal tone could blast from the most powerful roar to a painful sombre sonic in moments.

By the time of her sad death in 2011, at the tender age of 27, her wonderful vocal had made her a superstar. But her personal life mirrored its expansive range of emotions and often left the singer as a central character of a tabloid storyline.

Another love of Amy’s, aside from music, was her love of literature. This came to light at the 2013 exhibit Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait, which saw the artist’s personal items displayed alongside notes from Winehouse’s brother, Alex who co-curated the event at Jewish Museum of London. One more notable moment in the exhibit was Amy’s book collection which showed off her underplayed intelligence.

Alex shared at the time “Amy gave off a feeling of being slightly ashamed about how intelligent she really was. She’d have tons of Jackie Collins novels lying around the flat, but would hide her Dostoyevsky collection in a cupboard.” It’s a glimpse into the complexity of Amy’s character that would ultimately imbalance her life beyond repair.

Winehouse’s favourite books are an eclectic bunch and range from books on serial killers to the guttural love of Bukowski, from Hilary Mantel to Schulz’s Snoopy (Amy collectable Snoopy memorabilia from childhood) and back to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, it’s a bouncing list of intense highs, romantic tales, complex theory, and eternal innocence.

This quote from an interview in 2007 with the Guardian, Winehouse said, “I never travel without a good book. I read a lot when I’m travelling and always have a couple of books on the go. I read all sorts of stuff, but this week I bought an anthology of graphic fiction because I love graphic novels and cartoons, and another copy of Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold – a great novel. I also bought Alexei Sayle’s Barcelona Plates, which I’m looking forward to reading. I could spend a lot of time in bookshops just browsing.”

The entire list is that of an authentic and talented star, a lover of books and literature as well as a fierce advocate for free-thinking. Below find the Winehouse’s most cherished books.

Amy Winehouse’s favourite books

  • Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
  • Pigtopia by Kitty Fitzgerald
  • Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya: The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971 edited by Simon Karlinsky
  • Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
  • Barcelona Plates by Alexei Sayle
  • Snoopy Stars as the Fitness Freak by Charles M. Schulz
  • Kingdom of Fear by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Serial Killers: Profiles of Today’s most Terrifying Criminals by Editors of Time Life

Source: Radical Reads / The Guardian / The Independent

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