The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts recently opened its Lou Reed Archive, a collection of papers, photographs, recordings and 225 books documenting art rock’s notorious bad boy. Like Morrison and Dylan, Reed’s music was deeply influenced by his literary sensibilities. Mad poet Delmore Schwartz was an early mentor during his time at Syracuse University, where he also drew inspiration from the likes of Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Raymond Chandler, William S. Burroughs, and James Joyce. In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, Reed stated that his motivations as a songwriter were “to bring the sensitivities of the novel to rock music.”
If you can’t make it to the Lincoln Center to view the full collection (and pick up a special-edition Lou Reed library card), find a selection of the books included below, along with other titles Reed contributed forewords and afterwords to. Complement with the reading lists of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Laurie Anderson, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Patti Smith and Tom Waits.
The Place of Dead Roads by William S. Burroughs
The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol by John Wilcock
Feed-Back: The Velvet Underground by Ignacio Julià
Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties by Steven Watson
Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story by Ray Charles and David Ritz
Max’s Kansas City: Art Glamour, Rock and Roll by Steven Kasher