Art Garfunkel Lists 1195 Books He Read Over 45 Years, Plus His 157 Favorites (Many Free)

Image by Nation­aal Archief, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

If you’ve been won­der­ing what Art Gar­funkel has been up to late­ly, the answer is that it seems that he’s been read­ing. A lot.

The lanky, curly-haired num­ber two guy for the sem­i­nal folk-rock band Simon & Gar­funkel has been keep­ing track of every sin­gle thing he has read from June 1968 until Octo­ber 2013 and he’s post­ed all of them  — 1,195 texts — on his web­site. The first item on his list is Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Con­fes­sions and the last is Witold Gom­brow­icz’s Cos­mos. In between, Gar­funkel has knocked through some seri­ous­ly daunt­ing tomes –War and Peace, Ulysses, Mid­dle­march, Remem­brance of Things Past and Immanuel Kant’s Foun­da­tions of the Meta­physics of Morals. He even report­ed­ly read the entire Ran­dom House Dic­tio­nary.

His tastes gen­er­al­ly run towards the greats of the West­ern Canon with some more pulpy works thrown in along the way. J.K. Rowl­ing, Anne Rice and Dan Brown make appear­ances, as does E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. For those who find it daunt­ing to look at a list of 1,1195 books, Gar­funkel also pro­vides a list of his 157 favorites, which includes many great pub­lic domain works found in our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books col­lec­tions. You can 15 of Art’s favorites here:

“I read for the read­ing plea­sure, not for the gold star,” Gar­funkel told Nick Paum­garten of the New York­er in an inter­view a few years back. “Read­ing is a way to take down­time and make it stim­u­lat­ing. If you’re in the wait­ing room of a dentist’s office and don’t want to twid­dle your thumbs, you turn to Tol­stoy.”
Garfunkel’s list, or “library” as his web­site calls it, cre­ates an expec­tant­ly inti­mate por­trait of the artist. In the win­ter 1970, when Simon & Gar­funkel released their biggest sell­ing album, Like a Bridge Over Trou­bled Water, just as the duo was break­ing up, Gar­funkel blew through Moby Dick and Goethe’s The Sor­rows of Young Werther before mov­ing on to Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nau­sea and then lat­er Bertrand Russell’s The Con­quest of Hap­pi­ness. When the duo reunit­ed to play their famous con­cert in Cen­tral Park in 1981, Gar­funkel pol­ished off Dick­ens’ Nicholas Nick­le­by. And when Simon & Gar­funkel was induct­ed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Jan­u­ary 1990, he was read­ing Antho­ny Trollope’s An Auto­bi­og­ra­phy.

The one type of book he doesn’t read is post­mod­ern lit­er­a­ture. His list of some 1195 books con­tains no men­tion of the likes of Don DeLil­lo, Don­ald Barthelme or Thomas Pyn­chon. “I tried Gravity’s Rain­bow, and I thought it was fraud­u­lent,” Gar­funkel said.

Image above tak­en by Eddie Mallin.

via @pickover

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Steven Soder­bergh Posts a List of Every­thing He Watched and Read in 2009

Joseph Brodsky’s Read­ing List For Hav­ing an Intel­li­gent Con­ver­sa­tion

Carl Sagan’s Under­grad Read­ing List: 40 Essen­tial Texts for a Well-Round­ed Thinker

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing one new draw­ing of a vice pres­i­dent with an octo­pus on his head dai­ly.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.


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