Taking her St. Vincent stage name from the hospital Dylan Thomas spent his final hours, Annie Clark has often paid tribute to literature as a source of songwriting inspiration: “I’ve always wanted to make music like people write plays, so I was inspired by writers as much as musicians. I was a lusty kid who loved Tennessee Williams.”

The singer and multi-instrumentalist likens her writing process to the disciplined regimen of novelists, saying:

“I had brief glimpses of emotional catharsis while writing. I remember reading something Philip Roth wrote about how he writes every single day, but it’s almost as if he has amnesia every morning – he has almost zero confidence that anything will come but he just sits down and plugs away. And at the end of the day it feels like a miracle: ‘How did I do that?’ I had a similar experience where it was just about putting in the hours and being present. I’d listen to things that felt really good in the moment and realize they were clouded by enthusiasm or caffeine. And things that I was struggling to get out ended up being really compelling. It’s an emotional roller coaster; there’s exhilaration and there’s shame.”

She’s also visited KLRX Radio’s Unbound Book Club podcast four times, discussing her thoughts on titles from Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger to Patti Smith’s Just Kids.

Read on for a list of books that inspired Annie Clark and the music of St. Vincent – and gain a deeper insight into her process in her Masterclass on creativity and songwriting. Complement with the reading lists of Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon and Patti Smith.

White Girls by Hilton Als

“Why did it take me this long to read White Girls by Hilton Als? Forgive me, universe.” -AC

Malcolm X At Oxford Union: Radical Politics In A Global Era by Saladin Ambar (READ: The Books Malcolm X Read In Prison)

A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

Mythologies. I’d rather read a Barthes deconstruction of sports than watch sports. Nerd alert!” -AC

The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges

The Night of the Gun by David Carr

“David Carr’s book, The Night of the Gun, inspired my last record. So grateful to have known the brilliant and kind news man.” -AC

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (also rec’d by Carrie Brownstein & Gabrielle Union)

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion (READ: Joan Didion’s Literary Influences)

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (also rec’d by Carrie Brownstein)

“Am pretty obsessed with Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.” -AC

The White Album by Joan Didion (also rec’d by Anthony BourdainKim Gordon)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Bossypants by Tina Fey (also rec’d by Gloria Steinem)

“It perhaps goes without saying, but I read Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants. It perhaps goes without saying that I loved it.” -AC

The Magus by John Fowles

The Journals of Spalding Gray by Spalding Gray

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti

“Just picked up Sheila Heti’s new book How Should A Person Be? and finished it in 24 hours.” -AC

Animal Love by Werner Herzog

The Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog

Air Guitar by David Hickey

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil 

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain (also rec’d by Kim Gordon)

“It’s so good. It makes me want to read, just read.” -AC

Bark by Lorrie Moore

Birds Of America by Lorrie Moore

I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan

The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning by Maggie Nelson

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan

“I’m going to go ahead and wholeheartedly recommend reading Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan.” -AC

Classic Works by Bertrand Russell

Just Kids by Patti Smith (also rec’d by Carrie BrownsteinMarina Abramovic)

“Very special. Very recommended.” -AC

The Collected Poems by Dylan Thomas (also rec’d by Steve Jobs)

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

When Marina Abramovic Dies by James Westcott (READ: Marina Abramovic’s Bookshelf)

The Collected Plays by Tennessee Williams

“I was a lusty kid who loved Tennessee Williams plays. Sexy plays.” -AC

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, And The Prison Of Belief by Lawrence Wright

(via Twitter, Instagram & KLRX Radio)

Categories: Musicians

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