Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Polydor)


From Allen Ginsberg to Ernest Hemingway: Lana Del Rey's favourite books


Lana Del Rey has a literary mind that she engrains into her work, a factor which has helped her become one of the most celebrated musicians to have emerged over the last decade. The singer-songwriter has carved herself a niche in music like no other in contemporary pop music, one which has seen the esteemed artist earn her place at the pantheon of the music industry.

Del Rey’s unique delectable blend of timeless music with a contemporary twist has made her a force to be reckoned with and an artist to be devoured. The singer-songwriter is currently gearing up to release her upcoming seventh album, Chemtrails over the Country Club, which looks set to be one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Her journey kickstarted with the independently-released Lana Del Ray album in 2010, a record which arrived before the artist changed her stage name from ‘Ray’ to ‘Rey’ and, since 2012 effort Born To Die, she has been on an unstoppable path to stardom.

The lyricism is an ingredient that is at the heart of Del Rey’s work, and her love of literature bleeds into everything that she produces. Whether this is overtly or covertly, literary influences have impacted her career and made Del Rey the artist she is, helping the musician create the same level of escapism with her music as she gets through books.

In 2015, Del Rey opened up to Billboard about some of her favourite reads: “One of the books I love aside from [Kenneth Anger’s] Hollywood Babylon is The Autobiography of a Yogi,” she explained. “And Wayne Dyer, I was so upset when he died! [Dyer, part Buddhist, part New Thought motivational speaker, was best-known for his book Your Erroneous Zones. He died in August.] He gave me so much over the last 15 years.”

This interview wasn’t the first time that Del Rey offered a glimpse into her bookcase. Before she emerged as a household name, she gave her three-must reads to The Fader back in 2011. The first choice on her list was The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. “Essential Reading for anyone looking to find their own road to happiness and success in their lives. The Godfather of all books written on how to be successful and find peace,” Del Rey noted.

She then recommended Howl by Allen Ginsberg, adding: “I found this poem when I was 15, and it was one of the first pieces of literature that ever resonated with me. The fact that I related so closely to Ginsberg’s manic, drug-fueled rantings was a sign of very dark but creative times to come.”

Her final pick was Forbidden Gates: How Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotechnology, and Human Enhancement Herald The Dawn Of TechnoDimensional Spiritual Warfare by Tom and Nita Horn. “An easy way to become familiar with some of the major advances we’re making each year,” she said. “It’s 2011, and we should all be aware of exactly how fast technology is developing—from understanding cybernetics to learning that living organisms are now being created synthetically. In my world, life has always been more than music and art; it’s about science and understanding where we come from.”

Another book that Del Rey has alluded to her love of is Victoria Holt’s The Road to Paradise Island. In the video for ‘Honeymoon’, she is seen grasping a copy of the book, and this isn’t the only time she’s squeezed literary references into her work. Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is referenced in her track, ‘Money, Power, Glory’. Another Hemingway nod appears in her track ‘Religion’ as Del Rey takes the line, ‘You’re my religion’ from A Farewell to Arms.

However, there is one work that had the greatest impact on her life and led to Del Rey completely changing the direction of her future. At the time, she was attending Fordham’s highly-esteemed business school and had little belief that she would make it in music. However, her mindset changed after reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Speaking to Elton John for Rolling Stone, Del Rey stated: “After my freshman year, I read Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. It wasn’t necessarily about money. But he talked about burning every single bridge except for the only bridge that led to your greatest desire. And I thought, ‘My greatest desire is to sing.’ So I switched out and became a philosophy major because they told me I’d never get a job doing that.”

Check out the full-list, below.

Lana Del Rey’s favourite books

  • Kenneth Anger – Hollywood Babylon
  • Paramahansa Yogananda – Autobiography of a Yogi
  • Wayne Dyer – Your Erroneous Zones
  • Charles F. Haanel – The Master Key System
  • Allen Ginsberg – Howl
  • Tom and Nita Horn – Forbidden Gates: How Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotechnology, and Human Enhancement Herald The Dawn Of TechnoDimensional Spiritual Warfare
  • Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms
  • Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich