Bruce Springsteen to reissue five classic albums on vinyl
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From Keith Richards to Leo Tolstoy: Bruce Springsteen’s list 20 of his favourite books

The Boss, AKA Bruce Springsteen, may be the salt of the earth but he’s read his way across the literary world. So we’re taking a look back at a list of his most treasured books.

In an interview with The New York Times Springsteen is asked to compile the list through a series of intriguing questions. The 2014 interview remains a wonderful insight into the creative mind of one of America’s greatest songwriters, Bruce Springsteen.

Some are your usual affair, such as “You’re hosting a literary dinner with three writers. Who’s invited?”, to which the Boss answers “Philip Roth, Keith Richards, Tolstoy — and one extra, Bob Dylan. A lot of life experience there, and the babbling in different tongues would be wonderful.”

While others require Springsteen to dig a little deeper, asking him for the book that “made him”. Springsteen answers, “One would be difficult, but the short stories of Flannery O’Connor landed hard on me. You could feel within them the unknowability of God, the intangible mysteries of life that confounded her characters, and which I find by my side every day.”

The questions continue to light the way for us fans to try and understand the Boss’ inner workings. They go on, “What’s the last book you read that made you laugh?”, Bruce replies “Richard Ford’s The Lay of the Land.“, as well as, “The last book that made you cry?” with the ‘Born To Run’ singer answers, “Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.” There are also mentions of Leo Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Anton Chekov to show that Springsteen liked to challenge himself with his books.

It is from these answers that the good people of Open Culture pulled together this list of the 20 mentioned books in the interview. You can read the full thing here. It’s a reading list that shows off that while The Boss has always been a blue-collar rocker, he knows a good read when he sees one.

Bruce Springsteen’s 20 favourite books of all time

  • American Pastoral, I Married a Communist and Sabbath’s Theater, by Philip Roth
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
  • Chronicles, by Bob Dylan
  • Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, by Peter Guralnick
  • Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
  • Life, by Keith Richards
  • Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, by Dennis Overbye
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
  • Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, by Greil Marcus
  • The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Soul Mining: A Musical Life, by Daniel Lanois
  • The Complete Short Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
  • The History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell
  • The Novels of Jim Thompson
  • The Sportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land, by Richard Ford
  • The Stories of Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

Source: Open Culture / New York Times

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