Books that made Bob Dylan3 min read

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Reading list of an influential figure in popular music and culture. Explore his book recommendations!

“The Grapes of Wrath” John Steinbeck

– from “The life of Bob Dylan”

One of Steinbeck’s best known novels, this story has made it onto many book lists and English literature reading lists for its Pulitzer Prize. It should be known for its classic American themes of determination in the face of crippling discouragement, its vast descriptions of families caught in the teeth of the 1930’s Depression, and a tenacious insistence on clinging to life. The Joad family survives a stop-and-go movement toward the golden shores of California, one family member’s prison background, and economic instability – but not without a cost. The benefit of self-sacrifice comes through in Ma and Rosasharn, Jim Casy provides gritty life philosophy, and the characters without names provide a rich tapestry of background.

“Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller

– from Playboy interview

Also mentioned in 6 Books That Everyone Must Read. Paulo Coelho Recommends

What was salacious and banned American reading in the 1930’s (but not in France) can now be added to anyone’s reading list. The over-the-top descriptions of women’s bodies provide insight into Miller’s own tempestuous personal life, and the deep anger expressed at life’s unfairness was all his own. From disappointing night club jaunts to a parade of interactions with prostitutes, the main character celebrates all things out of the ordinary and the triumph of the body – if not the body politic. They are good for free dinners and conversation, but not much more. Those inspired by the Beat writers, like Jack Kerouac, may find this a fascinating reading list addition.

“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac

– from Playboy interview

Also mentioned in Fiction That Makes You Feel Good. Johnny Depp Recommends

While the art of Vagabonding may have become currently popular via Rolf Potts’ addition to travel junkies’ favorites list, Jack Kerouac was the voice of the 1960’s and 1970’s wanderlust. The many adventures of Kerouac and friend Cassady (transmuted into characters Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise) are sprawlingly chronicled in a series of comments and descriptions, with no particular beginning and no particular end. For those who want social commentaries on economics, feminism, and racism, this book has it. Expansive descriptions of American life, culture, and attitudes are all here, along with the freedom of wide open spaces. Those trying to find a plot adhering to an outline may have trouble reading this.

Howland Other Poems” by Allen Ginsberg

– from Playboy interview

Another current classic that made it through the censored reading lists, Ginsberg’s effort has been hailed as the battering ram that opened the American ivory tower of literature to life celebrations of the 1960’s. The book may have made it onto free thinkers’ reading lists just on the basis of the publishers’ prison sentence alone, if not the ground-breaking headlines of the court case afterward. The word “hipsters” cavorts with “benzedrine” and “unconsciousness”, along with many recognizable and strange flashes of creativity. Sometimes repetitive, sometimes wild, this rant against (and in favor of) the ceaseless desires of man provides unpredictability and grim depictions of gutter reality.

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