My Bookshelf, Myself

My 10 Favorite Books: Michael Stipe

For his new bookshop installation, One Grand, the editor Aaron Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. The next installment in the series comes from Michael Stipe, the artist and former frontman of the band R.E.M., who shares his picks exclusively with T.


Complete Works,” Arthur Rimbaud “Because of Patti Smith I read Rimbaud’s entire works at the age of 16. The whole time I was thinking his name was pronounced Rim-bawd. I actually can’t say at the time that I understood much of the finer points, but it was a wild read.”

On the Road,” Jack Kerouac “This book became my band’s template. To explore the country and do it all — having a great big time — on our terms, and no one else’s. Hooray! Followed by “The First Third” by Neal Cassady. The muse speaks, writes, smokes, drinks, seduces.”

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“Dhalgren,” Samuel R. Delaney “Where I learned in eighth grade, I think, that in the future you could have unbridled sci-fi sex with every man and woman within reach, without guilt, fear or weirdness, and have great end-of-times adventures. Just like my dreams! Fantastically futuristic!”

Breakfast of Champions,” Kurt Vonnegut “Introduced me to irony and self-deprecating humor. I can’t say I learned the lesson well, but…a B- for effort.”

All Families Are Psychotic,” Douglas Coupland “He is one of our great futurist lights and this is all the proof I need to make such a claim.”

Lolita,” Vladimir Nabokov “His humor and grasp of humanity and language thrill.”

Play It as It Lays,” Joan Didion “Which weirdly, through a Jack Pierson photograph and a gift from Douglas Coupland, became maybe the genesis of, and one of the three horns of my ongoing obsession with sculptural replicas and obsolete forms.”

Four Plays by Aristophanes,” translated by William Arrowsmith “I love the bawdiness and audacity of both writer and translator.”

Bonjour Tristesse,” Françoise Sagan “She was so young; it’s so very French in its desperate and elegant melancholy.”

Just Kids,” Patti Smith “Because I’m reading it as I write this, and it’s amazing.”