Once hailed by Sir Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet,” American-Canadian musician Rufus Wainwright started playing piano at the age of six, and was touring with family by 13. With eight studio albums that span the genres of show tune, baroque pop, indie rock and opera, his inspirations truly run the gamut – from Shakespeare and Judy Garland to Lou Reed and Edith Piaf.

In a list of 10 favorite books shared with NY-based bookstore One Grand, Wainwright’s picks include classic works of historical fiction and poetic fantasy. Find his reading list below, and complement with the bookshelves of Leonard Cohen, Elton John, and Lou Reed.


The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

“A brilliant expose on 1870s London during a financial crash eerily similar to what we’ve been through recently.” -RW

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

“Reading this book caused a kind of romantic awakening when I was younger, and my hair has never risen so high as on the last word of the last chapter.” -RW

Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

“It’s both majestically written and utterly hilarious. It encapsulates a lot of the deep, dark southern psyche, which we all love…and hate.” -RW

Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford

“An incredible biography by an incredible woman about another incredible woman.” -RW

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr

“Very thorough and endlessly entertaining about one of the greats.” -RW

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (also rec’d by David Foster Wallace)

“I was definitely very affected by this when I was a teenager. That began my adventure in reading. I think the Narnia books are perfect books for young people.” -RW

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (also rec’d by David BowieErnest HemingwayKim Gordon & Philip Roth)

“The most perfect novel ever written.” -RW

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (also rec’d by Bruce Springsteen, Ernest HemingwayPhilip Roth, Susan Sontag & Tom Wolfe)

“The second most perfect novel ever written.” -RW

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (READ: Carrie Fisher’s Favorite Books)

“It’s all true and it’s all good.” -RW

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (also rec’d by Gabriel García Márquez)

“I read this while my mother was ill, dying from cancer, and she decided to try to read it as well. We often shared books and music and so forth, but she couldn’t get through it because it was just too personal and too real. She had to put that book down; it’s pretty sad.” -RW

(via One Grand Books)

Categories: Musicians

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