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Bob Dylan Reading List

ND books recommended by Nobel Prize winner, Bob Dylan!


Arthur Rimbaud, A SEASON IN HELL

Bob Dylan: “I came across one of [Rimbaud’s] letters called ‘Je est un autre,’ which translates into "I is someone else." When I read those words the bells went off. It made perfect sense. I wished someone would have mentioned that to me earlier.” And, of course: “Situations have ended sad / Relationships have all been bad / Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud / But there’s no way I can compare / All those scenes to this affair / Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go”


Gregory Corso, THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY OF DEATH

Bob Dylan: “The Gregory Corso poem ‘Bomb’ was to the point and touched the spirit of the times—a wasted world and totally mechanized—a lot of hustle and bustle—a lot of shelves to clean, boxes to stack.”


Henry Miller, BIG SUR AND THE ORANGES OF HIERONYMUS BOSCH

Bob Dylan: “I like Henry Miller. I think he's the greatest American writer. I met him. Years ago. Played ping-pong with him.”


Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A CONEY ISLAND OF THE MIND

Bob Dylan: “A brave man, and a brave poet. “


Michael McClure, SELECTED POEMS OF MICHAEL MCCLURE

Michael McClure: “In December 1965, when we had been bombing Vietnam for eight months, Dylan read "Poisoned Wheat," a long anti-war poem of mine. One day as we were eating chicken, I handed him another copy. He left huge greasy fingerprints and he did it with complete aplomb. It seemed very non-materialistic and natural not to notice the blotches. It seemed right to treat works of art as part of the transformations of life. Later I gave the copy to a girl who wanted Bob's fingerprints.”


Honoré de Balzac, COLONEL CHABERT

Bob Dylan: “I liked the French writer Balzac a lot. Balzac was pretty funny. His philosophy is plain and simple, says basically that pure materialism is a recipe for madness. The only true knowledge for Balzac seems to be in superstition.”


Gary Snyder, TURTLE ISLAND

Bob Dylan: “I was eighteen or so when I first discovered Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Frank O’Hara, and those guys.”


James Joyce, STEPHEN HERO

“I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver / And I'm reading James Joyce / Some people they tell me / I got the blood of the land in my voice” And “James Joyce seemed like the most arrogant man who ever lived, had both his eyes wide open and great faculty of speech, but what he say, I knew not what.”


Dylan Thomas, COLLECTED POEMS OF DYLAN THOMAS

It’s still up for speculation whether or not Bob Dylan changed his name because of the poet Dylan Thomas, but it's worth reading "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" regardless.