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Yoko Ono's 57 favourite books of all time

Yoko Ono is one of the most notable figures in music. The wife of John Lennon, she has long and mistakenly been derided as the force that caused The Beatles to split up. Of course, she is so much more than this life-altering whisper. Yoko Ono is an accomplished musician, artist, and philanthropist in her own right. Interestingly, she’d already established herself as a renowned visual artist years before she’d met The Beatles frontman, a fact that puts many of her critics to shame. 

Regardless of your thoughts on Ono, you cannot deny that she has lived her life to the fullest. Over her 89 years on the earth, she’s done it all, and since the exciting days of the ’60s, she’s continued to promote the ethos of the counterculture, hoping that one day people will unite, casting aside their quarrels in the name of peace and love. Whilst we could talk about her campaigning for an age, one thing is clear about Ono, her life has been driven by her nature as an avid reader of books.

Famously, Ono first met Lennon when she was helping the pioneering composer John Cage to pen his 1969 opus, Notations. Comprised of graphical scores and holographs, with notes from 269 composers, Ono’s introduction to Lennon came when she approached Paul McCartney and inquired if he’d want to submit work for the book. McCartney declined but suggested John Lennon instead. As the first act of their story, Lennon gave Ono the original handwritten lyrics for 1965’s ‘The Word’ from Rubber Soul, which made it into Notations

Reflecting her affinity for literature, Ono once even went as far as to invoke the image of science fiction master H. G. Wells when describing her and Lennon’s romance. She opined: “John and I felt that we were like people in an H. G. Wells story. Two people who are walking so fast that nobody else can see them.”

Acutely aware of the power of reading, Ono explained: “Words are power. And a book is full of words. Be careful what power you get from it. But know that you do.” 

Luckily for us, the good folks over at Radical Reads have compiled a list of Yoko Ono’s 57 favourite books, giving us a real insight into the complex mind of one of popular culture’s most eminent figures. The titles she loves deal with everything from the personal to the societal, with works on the environment, mental illness, the assassination of JFK and even the mysterious Bilderberg Group, all making up this varied and intriguing list. 

On 2008’s JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by theologian James W. Douglass, Ono revealed herself to be a passionate follower of politics and a keen historian. She said: “I was crying reading the secret letter exchange Kruschev and John Kennedy quite extensively. Together, they thought they could create World Peace. They almost did, just before Kennedy was assassinated. If you want to read all the correspondence between those two, there is a separate 200-page book of it. This book only mentions a few. But it gives the picture of John Kennedy we didn’t know.”

Another notable title in the list is Hans Fallada’s 1947 story Every Man Dies Alone, which fictionalises the real tale of working-class husband and wife, Otto and Elise Hampel, who became part of the German Resistance to Nazi rule. Strangely, although the book was written in 1947, it wasn’t translated into English until 2009 when it was discovered by American publishing house Melville House Publishing.

Ono explained: “This is fiction, but it impressed the hell out of me even though I very rarely have time to read fiction these days. It is the New York Times book review ‘Notable Book of The Year’, as well. It gives the account of Germans who fought Nazism and were killed or put in jail for life by Nazis for it. A German citizen is killed just for dropping cards all over the city writing his objection of Hitler’s policies. His wife was also sentenced to death, and was in jail indefinitely.”

These are just two works out of a remarkable 57 that vividly paint a picture of Yoko Ono‘s personality. There’s something here for everyone, so be prepared to be exposed to thoughts you never thought possible. 

Check out the full list below. 

Yoko Ono’s 57 favourite books:

  • The Women by Hilton Als
  • Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves by Kevin Bales 
  • The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today by Kevin Bales & Ron Soodalter
  • Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water by Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke
  • Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin & Rory Freedman
  • 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People by Sally Beare
  • The Ancient Art of Self-Healing by Yogi Bhajan and Siri Amir Singh Khalsa
  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertold Brecht
  • War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier by Smedley D. Butler
  • Plundering Appalachia: The Tragedy of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining by Tom Butler & Doug Tompkins
  • MAO – The Unknown Story by Jung Chang & Jon Halliday
  • Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old by Deepak Chopra
  • Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis by Christopher D. Cook
  • Days That I’ll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono by Jonathan Cott
  • What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo
  • The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge
  •  JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass
  • Classified Woman by Sibel Edmonds
  • The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto 
  • Healing Visualisations: Creating Health Through Imagery by Gerald Epstein M.D.
  • The True Story of the Bilderberg Group by Daniel Estulin
  • Every Man Dies Alone: A Novel by Hans Fallada
  • India – A Portrait by Patrick French
  • Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s by Otto Friedrich
  • The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka
  • Windfall – Booming Business of Global Warming by McKenzie Funk
  • Creative Visualisation: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain
  • A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi
  • Love Your Body by Louise HayThe Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting – Ageing Without Growing Old by Marie de Hennezel
  • An Earth Saving Revolution by Teruo Higa 
  • Brain Trust: The Hidden Connection Between Mad Cow and Misdiagnosed Alzheimer’s Disease by Colm A. Kelleher
  • The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources by Michael T. Klare
  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
  • Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility by Ellen J. Langer
  • This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin
  • Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman & Mark Liponis
  • The Revolution is to be Human by Walter Lowenfels
  • Your Brain Is (Almost) Perfect: How We Make Decisions by Read Montague
  • And Justice For Some: An Expose of the Lawyers and Judges Who Let Dangerous Criminals Go by Wendy Murphy
  • Journey of Souls – Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton Ph.D
  • Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel
  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins 
  • The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World by John Perkins
  • Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman
  • The Carbon Age: How Life’s Core Element Has Become Civilisation’s Greatest Threat by Eric Roston
  • The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
  • When the World Outlawed War by David Christopher Naylor Swanson
  • Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light – The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta by Mother Teresa
  • The Way of Life by Lao Tzu
  • Overcoming Speechlessness by Alice Walker 
  • Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams, Danny Penman and Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Violence – Six Sideways Reflections by Slavoj Žižek

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