The Boss, AKA Bruce Springsteen, maybe the salt of the earth but he’s read his way across the literary world. 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 ask 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.
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