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Marianne Faithfull names her 10 favourite books of all time


The songstress and balladeer of the swinging 1960s, Marianne Faithfull has always had a penchant for culture and intellectualism. After all, she is a descendant of Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote Venus in Furs, published in 1870, which had an immeasurable influence on culture years later. The word ‘masochism’ was derived from Faithfull’s great-great uncle, Leopold, whose book led Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground to write their song of the same name.

During the decade of the ’60s, there was a sense of newfound freedom, that anything was possible, and culture had to be released from the previous state of its conservative stoicism, which stifled things. The hippie counterculture took shape by the middle of the decade, which had a part to play in every major city in the west. Hippies were convening in San Fransisco; mod culture with a blend of original R&B was alive and swinging in London; New York City had a deep seedy underground, where bands like The Velvet Underground were beginning to offer an alternative to flower-power. 

In a world where the powers that be were waging war in Vietnam, it seemed that the mainstream was as hypocritical as ever and that the priority for any of these countercultures (which indeed made them countercultural) was to reject conformity and to increasingly do things from a place of love as opposed to a place of fear.

Another facet of this counterculture movement was its thirst for intellectualism. Marianne Faithfull’s attitude to learning is as good of an example as any. Her father was a professor of Italian literature in London, so she developed a love for books from a young age.

It has also been noted before that Marianne Faithfull is responsible for introducing Mick Jagger (the two also dated) to Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a Russian magic realist novel that directly inspired Jagger to write The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’.

This isn’t the only time that Faithfull played the muse for The Rolling Stones. While the Stones sang about ‘Sister Morphine’, she was living on the streets during the ’70s as a homeless heroin addict. Allegedly, she helped write the song and was eventually given co-authorship after a few legal battles. 

Recently, Faithfull shared her reading list of her ten favourite books with One Stand. Among them, she cited the likes of punk hero, Patti Smith. Faithfull said of her and her memoir, Just Kids: “Simply brilliant. I am a friend of Patti’s and a huge fan, and I loved it.” 

Faithfull also referenced the one and only prince of horror, Nick Cave and his second novel The Death of Bunny Munro: “One of Nick Cave’s many novels – very dark, of course, rather like his songs, but very good,” she said. Coincidentally, Faithfull has only recently released her collection of songs with Cave’s counterpart Warren Ellis.

Faithfull’s taste in literature doesn’t stop within the realm of music. She also cited the great Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, revealing: It’s one of my favourite of Dostoyevsky’s stories, really frightening but it’s an incredible book.”

You can find the entire list, below.

Marianne Faithfull’s favourite books

  1. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times – Pema Chödrön
  2. Just Kids – Patti Smith
  3. Memoirs of Hadrian – Marguerita Yourcenar
  4. Rabbit Series – John Updike
  5. The Death of Bunny Munro – Nick Cave
  6. The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford
  7. The Gambler – Dostoevsky
  8. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare – Stephen Greenblatt
  9. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights – Salman Rushdie
  10. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley