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:
- Austen, Jane – Pride & Prejudice
- Bronte, Charlotte – Jane Eyre
- Bronte, Emily – Wuthering Heights
- Cervantes – Don Quixote
- Dickens, Charles – Bleak House
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor – The Idiot
- Doyle, Arthur Conan – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
- Joyce, James – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- Joyce, James – Ulysses
- Proust, Marcel – Swann’s Way
- Rousseau, Jean-Jacques – The Confessions
- Tolstoy, Leo – Anna Karenina
- Tolstoy, Leo – War and Peace
- Wells, H.G. – A Short History of the World
- Woolf, Virginia – A Room of One’s Own
“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.
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 @jonccrow. And 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.