Lana Del Rey has a serious prowess in the world of contemporary pop music. She has a truly distinctive sound, drawing from many facets of popular music, including blues, rock, baroque and dream pop. The themes found in Del Rey’s writing uniquely explore the melancholia and heartache of romance in Los Angeles.
Her music almost contains within it a haunting, clairvoyant aspect, with frequent references to the pop culture of the 1950s and 1960s, times long before Del Rey was even born. Her breakout hit came with ‘Video Games’ released in 2011, taken from her 2012 sophomore album Born to Die. She subsequently released a further six albums, including 2014’s Ultraviolence, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
Del Rey, born Elizabeth Grant, is also an avid reader, reportedly taking extended visits to Big Sur in California to soak in the beautiful scenery and delve into some of her favourite literature in peace. Her reading is what most likely gives her music that unique cinematic and poetic edge.
Discussing some of her favourite books, Del Rey revealed a youthful love for the work of the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, which would be exemplified in her own writing later in her career. ‘Howl’ was the subject of an obscenity trial in the 1950s for its subject matter of drugs and homosexuality.
“I found this poem when I was 15, and it was one of the first pieces of literature that ever resonated with me,” Del Rey said. “The fact that I related so closely to Ginsberg’s manic, drug-fuelled rantings was a sign of very dark but creative times to come.”
Del Rey also appears to be a fan of self-help books. She particularly enjoys The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel, one of the first books of its kind. It was originally published as a correspondence course in 1912. Del Ray said of the book: “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 takes a keen interest in the role that technology plays in the spiritual plight of humanity, taking a preference for Thomas Horn’s Forbidden Gates in particular. She said the book is “an easy way to become familiar with some of the major advances we’re making each year. 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.”
Wayne Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones is another self-help book that Del Rey seems to admire. Dyer was a motivational speaker and a trained counsellor whose work focused on self-actualisation and assertiveness. Your Erroneous Zones became one of the best-selling self-help books of all time. Of Dyer, Del Rey said, “I was so upset when he died! He gave me so much over the last 15 years.”
Check out a full list of Lana Del Rey’s favourite books below.
Lana Del Rey’s favourite books:
- Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
- Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
- The Road to Paradise Island – Victoria Holt
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
- Ariel – Sylvia Plath
- Howl and Other Poems – Allen Ginsberg
- The Master Key System – Charles F. Haanel
- Forbidden Gates – Thomas Horn
- Your Erroneous Zones – Wayne Dyer
- Hollywood Babylon – Kenneth Anger
- Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda