Amy Winehouse was a fiercely talented jazz tour de force. Before passing away at the age of 27 in 2011, Winehouse’s work had been met with outstanding international success and critical acclaim – and her Cockney charm, brash sense of humor and distinctly soulful voice will long live on. Along with being almost obsessively knowledgeable on the jazz greats, Winehouse was also an avid reader who collected Snoopy paraphernalia from childhood.
In a 2007 interview with the Guardian, Winehouse said, “I never travel without a good book. I read a lot when I’m traveling and always have a couple of books on the go. I read all sorts of stuff, but this week I bought an anthology of graphic fiction because I love graphic novels and cartoons, and another copy of Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold – a great novel. I also bought Alexei Sayle’s Barcelona Plates, which I’m looking forward to reading. I could spend a lot of time in bookshops just browsing.”
Two years after her death, her brother and sister-in-law co-curated an exhibit of Winehouse’s personal items for the Jewish Museum of London. Entitled Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait, the artist’s personal effects were displayed alongside captions written by Winehouse’s brother, Alex.
One of the more interesting takeaways from the exhibit concerned Winehouse’s reading habits. Regarding her book collection, Alex wrote, “Amy gave off a feeling of being slightly ashamed about how intelligent she really was. She’d have tons of Jackie Collins novels lying around the flat, but would hide her Dostoyevsky collection in a cupboard.” Perhaps, like Marilyn Monroe, Amy donned a ditzy persona as a kind of protection.
Though Amy’s life was all too short-lived, her legacy lives on. Below is a selection of Amy Winehouse’s favorite reads.
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Pigtopia by Kitty Fitzgerald
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Dear Bunny, Dear Volodya: The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971 edited by Simon Karlinsky
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Barcelona Plates by Alexei Sayle
Snoopy Stars as the Fitness Freak by Charles M. Schulz
“This book was a Christmas present from my mum to me many years ago. Stolen by Amy, I took it back after she died and always carry it with me.” -Alex Winehouse, Amy’s brother
Kingdom of Fear by Hunter S. Thompson
Serial Killers: Profiles of Today’s most Terrifying Criminals(True Crime) by Editors of Time Life