In addition to playing a litany of literature-inspired roles over a truly eclectic movie career, American actor and musician Johnny Depp is an avid rare book collector who’s even dabbled in publishing, through his Harper Collins imprint Infinitum Nihil.

A lifelong lover of the Beats since first picking up a copy of On The Road at fifteen, Depp maintained close friendships with literary heroes Allen Ginsberg and Hunter S. Thompson up until their dying days – famously bankrolling Thompson’s explosive funeral service.

For an Entertainment Weekly piece on his essential films, books, and music, there’s no shortage of gripping character studies and powerful, poetic storytelling. Find a list of Johnny Depp’s favorite books below, and complement with the reading lists of Hunter S. Thompson and Patti Smith.


The People’s Act of Love by James Meek

“A darkly epic, grisly, beguiling journey set amid the frozen tundra of wartime Russia. Delicious prose. Once its dirty claws break skin, that icy death grip won’t be letting go anytime soon. Unforgettable.” -JD

In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches

“A modern masterpiece. Utterly superior to almost everything published within the last 50 years. I won’t bother trying to describe it. Just go get it.” -JD

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and The Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley

“A fascinating, immensely readable book regarding Teddy Roosevelt’s intense love for nature and how, during his presidency, he essentially became one of the very first eco-warriors.” -JD

The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

“The adventures of one incorrigible Sebastian Dangerfield. Unruly, willful, and wholly devious. This lyrical, comic wonder was introduced to me by Hunter. Every man should read this, and spend at least one evening in his life impersonating this unapologetic horror of an individual!” -JD

Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates by Tom Robbins

“A shockingly good yarn, as only Tom Robbins can spin. Only a few writers have made me laugh out loud — Robbins does it with ease.” -JD

On the Road and Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

“There is nothing I can really say here that hasn’t been said before, or even add to that hasn’t been added. Safe to say, these books are as important to me as they have been to many. Two pivotal, historical works that will never rest happily at home upon a dusty shelf.” -JD

The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (also rec’d by David Bowie, Patti Smith & Salman Rushdie)

“This dark, absurd, and subversive treasure lay hidden for many years, even after Bulgakov’s death, such was the fear of reprisal for such a pointed, authentic stab at life under the tyrannical malevolence of Uncle Joe and the withering Soviet climate of the time.” -JD

A Season in Hell & Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud and The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire

“Possibly the most divine writings in the history of the word. Throughout my life, more trustworthy pocket companions I could not imagine.” -JD

The Rum Diary and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“Two of my personal favorites, both authored, of course, by a dear friend. The first, a deft, feral bastard of a novel. The second, simply epochal. Life-defining genius.” -JD

(via EW)

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Johnny Depp's Essential Reading List

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