In 2013, as part of their ongoing David Bowie Is tour, the V&A published a list of 100 books selected from the David Bowie Archive. It's not exactly a list of Bowie's favourites, more a cross-section of his reading habits. Think of it as a bibliographic genome, full of the themes, obsessions and influences that found their way into his music. It's really rather fascinating. And it's given me an idea.

I will design a cover for every single book on the list. 

Yes, okay, this is a silly idea. Preposterous. At some point it will hit me quite how preposterous. But right now, it feels like the very best idea that anyone has ever had. You can't beat a good side project to keep the creative cogs oiled, and right now, I reckon tackling this list is a great opportunity to challenge myself with titles that wouldn't normally cross my desk (there's so much fiction, I may cry). Hopefully this challenge will help me to develop new skills and methods and ideas and suchlike. Plus, in a weird, roundabout kind of way, it's a nice way to celebrate Bowie, to whom I owe so much.

So this is it, the beginning of a new, overwhelming project. To prevent it/me from going completely off the rails, I've set myself a few ground rules:

  • The covers should be commercial and contemporary. This isn't about making faux-battered pastiches of old Pelicans. They should look like editions that will go on sale tomorrow.
  • There is no order. I'll pick and choose whatever I fancy working on next.
  • I'll try to keep the nudge-nudge references to Bowie to a minimum. It's inspired by his list, it isn't directly about him. Sneaking in hidden lightning bolts and mis-matched eyes will become very tiresome very quickly. 
  • I'll try to retain any quotes and additional cover information from the most recent editions. No Richard and Judy stickers though.
  • It doesn't matter how long this thing takes. The vagaries of work and parenting will immediately put a halt to any notions of it being a one-a-day kind of thing.

Now all I have to do is decide which title to start with. Here's the full list, courtesy of

Interviews With Francis Bacon
by David Sylvester

Billy Liar 
by Keith Waterhouse

Room At The Top
by John Braine

On Having No Head
by Douglass Harding

Kafka Was The Rage
by Anatole Broyard

A Clockwork Orange 
by Anthony Burgess

City Of Night
by John Rechy

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz

Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert

by Homer

As I Lay Dying
by William Faulkner

Tadanori Yokoo
by Tadanori Yokoo

Berlin Alexanderplatz
by Alfred Döblin

Inside The Whale And Other Essays
by George Orwell

Mr. Norris Changes Trains
by Christopher Isherwood

Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art
by James A. Hall

David Bomberg
by Richard Cork

by Wyndham Lewis

by Nella Larson

Beyond The Brillo Box
by Arthur C. Danto

The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind
by Julian Jaynes

In Bluebeard’s Castle
by George Steiner

by Peter Ackroyd

The Divided Self
by R. D. Laing

The Stranger
by Albert Camus

Infants Of The Spring
by Wallace Thurman

The Quest For Christa T
by Christa Wolf

The Songlines
by Bruce Chatwin

Nights At The Circus
by Angela Carter

The Master And Margarita
by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie
by Muriel Spark

by Vladimir Nabokov

by Saul Bellow

by Spike Milligan

Black Boy
by Richard Wright

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea
by Yukio Mishima

Darkness At Noon
by Arthur Koestler

The Waste Land
by T.S. Elliot

by Frank Norris

by Martin Amis

The Outsider
by Colin Wilson

Strange People
by Frank Edwards

English Journey
by J.B. Priestley

A Confederacy Of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole

The Day Of The Locust
by Nathanael West

by George Orwell

The Life And Times Of Little Richard
by Charles White

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock
by Nik Cohn

Mystery Train
by Greil Marcus

Beano (comic, ’50s)

Raw (comic, ’80s)

White Noise
by Don DeLillo

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom
by Peter Guralnick

Silence: Lectures And Writing
by John Cage

Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews
edited by Malcolm Cowley

The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll
by Charlie Gillete

Octobriana And The Russian Underground
by Peter Sadecky

The Street
by Ann Petry

Wonder Boys
by Michael Chabon

Last Exit To Brooklyn
by Hubert Selby, Jr.

A People’s History Of The United States
by Howard Zinn

The Age Of American Unreason
by Susan Jacoby

Metropolitan Life
by Fran Lebowitz

The Coast Of Utopia
by Tom Stoppard

The Bridge
by Hart Crane

All The Emperor’s Horses
by David Kidd

by Sarah Waters

Earthly Powers
by Anthony Burgess

The 42nd Parallel
by John Dos Passos

Tales Of Beatnik Glory
by Ed Saunders

The Bird Artist
by Howard Norman

Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music
by Gerri Hirshey

Before The Deluge
by Otto Friedrich

Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson
by Camille Paglia

The American Way Of Death
by Jessica Mitford

In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

Lady Chatterly’s Lover
by D.H. Lawrence

by Jon Savage

Vile Bodies
by Evelyn Waugh

The Hidden Persuaders
by Vance Packard

The Fire Next Time
by James Baldwin

Viz (comic, early ’80s)

Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)

Selected Poems
by Frank O’Hara

The Trial Of Henry Kissinger
by Christopher Hitchens

Flaubert’s Parrot
by Julian Barnes

by Comte de Lautréamont

On The Road
by Jack Kerouac

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder 
by Lawrence Weschler

by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual
by Eliphas Lévi

The Gnostic Gospels
by Elaine Pagels

The Leopard
by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa

by Dante Alighieri

A Grave For A Dolphin
by Alberto Denti di Pirajno

The Insult
by Rupert Thomson

In Between The Sheets
by Ian McEwan

A People’s Tragedy
by Orlando Figes

Journey Into The Whirlwind
by Eugenia Ginzburg