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(Credit: Jim Jarmusch)


Jim Jarmusch lists his 18 favourite books of all time

“It is a sad and beautiful world.”- Jim Jarmusch 

The only thing that seems to add colour to the troubling times that have been ravaged by the health crisis is Jim Jarmusch’s creative work, a collection of feature films that is nothing short of poetry. Jarmusch, a well-known American director, screenwriter and composer, has weaved in his quirks and creative imagination into his films. A master of dark, zany humour as well as his non-conformity to genres, Jarmusch is one of the most well-known independent filmmakers. 

Jarmusch has strong opinions about originality. An advocate for “steal(ing) from anywhere”, he vehemently argues that “it’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” He says that “originality is non-existent’ but “authenticity is invaluable”. One cannot help but admire his passion when he talks about how anything that “fuels your imagination” and “speaks directly to your soul” can generate authentic work. 

Humble, Jarmusch refuses to acknowledge his mastery over filmmaking. In conversation with T. Cole Rachel, he did not accept his position as a “professional filmmaker” and went on to call himself an “amateur”. Further explaining, he said: “I adamantly say I’m an amateur filmmaker, partly because the origin of the word means ‘the love of a form’ and professional means ‘I do this for money’. So I am an amateur filmmaker because I love the form.” Some of Jarmusch’s best works include Coffee & Cigarettes Ghost Dog: The Wave of Samurai, Dead Man, Mystery Train, Paterson, Broken Flowers and more. 

Although he is known for his innate sense of music as well as his skills as a guitarist, besides his splendid filmmaking abilities, Jarmusch does not use the word “artist” to describe himself either. “Instead I’ll just say that I am a person whose job really is taking in a lot of things that inspire me and then somehow creating things that come back out of me. There are other people who seem to have a similar feeling,” he commented.  

He resonates with Dennis Hopper’s statements on how making a film is “just fucking hard”. Talking about his approach, he referred to the insane amount of “energy, focus and concentration” that went into it. Being a self-proclaimed “film geek”, it is “fulfilling” and “joyous” for him. 

Not only is Jarmusch a film buff and music fanatic but also an avid reader. “I’m a film geek, so I’ve been absorbing films since I was a child, kind of like a maniac, but I also absorb music and books and other things like a maniac.” 

The good people of FanFavorites were kind enough to enlist Jim Jarmusch’s favourite books. The reading list itself boasts of his unique taste and shows how the quirky maestro reads as well as he directs. 

See his full selections, below. 

Jim Jarmusch’s favourite books of all time:

  1. A Season in Hell & The Drunken Boat (French and English Edition), by Arthur Rimbaud
  2. Coming Through Slaughter, Michael Ondaatje 
  3. Impressions of Africa, by Raymond Roussel 
  4. John Ashbery: Collected Poems 1991-2000, by John Ashbery 
  5. Lost Illusions, by Honore de Balzac
  6. Lunch Poems, by Frank O’Hara 
  7. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
  8. Orlando Furioso, by Ludovico Ariosto 
  9. Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett
  10. Sentimental Education, by Gustave Flaubert
  11. Swann’s Way: In Search of Lost Time Vol.1, by Marcel Proust
  12. Three by Cain: Serenade, Love’s Lovely Counterfeit, The Butterfly,  by James M. Cain 
  13. The Diaries of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain  
  14. The Factory of Facts, by Luc Sante  
  15. The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, by Herbert Asbury 
  16. The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri  
  17. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne 
  18. The Woman Chaser, by Charles Willeford