A wise man once said, “We need to make books cool again.” a poignant message built on the foundations of learning, the pursuit of knowledge and the broadening of one’s horizons. The same wise and practical man continued, “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em.” and thus the quest to find the legendary reading list of the wise man, AKA John Waters, begun.
Radical Reads provided a wide-ranging and utterly captivating copy of John Waters’ epic reading list. It’s a list which not only hints at his own creativity and culture but also shows the pursuit of learning that has always driven men like Waters beyond the shocking superficial into the theoretical nooks and crannies of the art world. A fitting pursuit for a man with such monikers as the Prince of Puke, Sultan of Sleaze, and our favourite, the Pope of Trash.
Waters has always had a love for books and a desire for everyone to engage in their wild love affair alongside them for a sordid intellectual orgy, because “nothing is more impotent than an unread library”. Below is just a selection of his claimed 8,000 books strong library in Baltimore, and it’s a fascinating list.
Having written several books alongside his screenplays for cult-classic titles such as Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Cry-Baby, and Hairspray, it’s fair to assume he has good taste. And he does, thankfully. He’s often expressed his love for the subversive and his book choice is no different, he marks out Andy Milligan as a preferred filmmaker in the list, and also says James Purdy is great if “you’re having a sexual nervous breakdown”, while also declaring undying love for his idol Jean Genet.
While some books remain firmly in his perceived wheelhouse, such as Cooper’s The Sluts and Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight others are a little more out of leftfield such as the biography of Cambodian tyrant Pol Pot. It all amounts to a full library, and according to Ohn that means you’re more than likely to get lucky.
Below is a selection of John Waters’ favourite books, or as we’re calling it, ‘the reading list to get you laid’.
My Prizes: An Accounting by Thomas Bernhard (Author), Carol Janeway (Translator)
Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley
Darkness and Day by Ivy Compton-Burnett
The Sluts by Dennis Cooper
The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp
The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras (Author), Richard Seaver (Translator)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Consider the Oyster by M. F. K. Fisher
Suicide in the Entertainment Industry by David K. Frasier
Jernigan by David Gates
We Disappear by Scott Heim
Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant by Philip Hoare
The End of Alice by A.M. Homes
Platform by Michel Houellebecq and Frank Wynne
The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq (Author), Gavin Bowd (Translator)
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell translated by Charlotte Mandell
The Beard: A Play by Michael McClure
Time Remaining by James McCourt
The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan by Jimmy McDonough
Sita by Kate Millett
Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) by Eileen Myles
Narrow Rooms by James Purdy
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
American Pastoral by Philip Roth (also rec’d by Bruce Springsteen)
Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare by Philip Short
So Much for That by Lionel Shriver
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
And I Don’t Want to Live This Life: A Mother’s Story of Her Daughter’s Murder by Deborah Spungen
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
Genet: A Biography by Edmund White
Still Holding: A Novel of Hollywood by Bruce Wagner
The Assistant by Robert Walser (Author), Susan Bernofsky (Translator)
In Youth Is Pleasure by Denton Welch
Voss by Patrick White
Swimming Underground by Mary Woronov