Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Books Are on John Waters' Bookshelf?

Baltimore's native son John Waters is known for his outré tastes. The filmmaker is also famous for being a big lover of books. So one can only imagine what bizarro selections make up Waters' personal library. might be surprised.

Image of John Waters via

Waters, along with other celebrated artists and authors, have collaborated with New York's Strand Bookstore to curate literary collections that are collectively known as "The Author's Bookshelf." John Waters, comics artist Art Spiegelman, and authors Junot Diaz, Chuck Klosterman, Gary Shteyngart and many more have put together a selection of must-read books that can be seen (and purchased) in person at The Strand or online at the bookstore's website.

Looking online at John Waters' picks, I can that say some are hardly shocking: there's Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film, by Jimmy McDonough; The Sluts, by Dennis Cooper; And I Don't Want to Live This Life: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Murder, by Deborah Spungen; and Inside Peyton Place: The Life of Grace Metalious, by Emily Toth. 

Yet there are other books from John Waters' bookshelf that, going by his often campy public image, I didn't think that he would be into, including: Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short; The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, by Douglas Brinkley; and Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry, by Mel Watkins.

Introducing his picks, Waters says, "Here are books that will help you become a well-rounded, happy neurotic who can finally reject your own guilt and shame and embrace the outer limits of human behavior." I don't know about eradicating guilt and shame, but the books he chose will definitely enlighten you about the lives of outsiders, whether they're poor African Americans, ostracized authors, punk rock groupies, or makers of soft-core porn.

To see all of the choice selections on John Waters' "Author's Bookshelf," go HERE.

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