Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Nick Cave)


A list of Nick Cave's favourite books and authors


At a time when live music remains off the menu amid the current health crisis, we’re delving deep into the mind of Australia’s favourite post-punk artist, Nick Cave, to discover some of the literary influences that have inspired a career of emotional intensity to keep ourselves creatively occupied.

Cave, who studied art before fronting his chaotic band The Birthday Party, has seen his musical taste and change and mature since the obscenely vibrant 1980s when he moved to London and then on to West Berlin. As The Birthday Party disbanded and The Bad Seeds were born, one ever present moment of consistency has been Cave’s feverish desire to devour literature at a furious rate.

Cave was raised in a small rural Australian town, his father taught English Literature and his mother was a librarian at the high school that Cave himself attended; Cave was introduced to literally classics such as Crime and Punishment and Lolita from an early age and the creative spark within was lit. “An artist’s duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where he can receive information and inspiration,” he once said. “You always have to be ready for that little artistic epiphany.”

Cave, who has often detailed his commitment to poetry and described it “part of my job as a songwriter,” before adding: “I try to read, at the very least, a half-hour of poetry a day, before I begin to do my own writing” has always played heavily with literary techniques as part of his work. Cave continued: “It jimmies open the imagination, making the mind more receptive to metaphor and abstraction and serves as a bridge from the reasoned mind to a stranger state of alertness, in case that precious idea decides to drop by.”

When asked what children should be reading in school during an interview with Rolling Stone, Cave replied: “They should read the Bible, they should read Lolita. They should stop reading Bukowski, and they should stop listening to people who tell them to read Bukowski.”

All of the aforementioned names; Bukowski, Vladimir Nabokov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky have all been collected in a list of authors that Cave has named as vital influencers to his creative output. In a list that was curated by Radical Reads by collected Cave’s comments and suggestions through years of different interviews, the Bad Seeds frontman cites the likes of W.H. Auden, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Philip Larkin and more as crucial points of reference.

Nick Cave’s favourite books and authors:

  • The Bible
  • In the Belly of the Beast by Jack Abbott
  • Thank You, Fog by W.H. Auden
  • Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
  • Collected Poems by John Betjeman
  • American Murder Ballads and Their Stories by Olive Woolley Burt
  • The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton
  • Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler
  • Louis Wain – The Man Who Drew Cats by Rodney Dale
  • Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Harlot by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  • The Unvanquished by William Faulkner
  • Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • High Windows by Philip Larkin
  • Selected Letters by Philip Larkin
  • The Bad Seed by William March
  • Das Kapital by Karl Marx
  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • News From Nowhere by William Morris
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje
  • The Cantos by Ezra Pound
  • A Flower Book For the Pocket by Macgregor Skene
  • SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas
  • W.H. Auden: A Tribute by Stephen Spender
  • The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross
  • The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
  • Inferno / From an Occult Diary by August Strindberg