Harry’s Book Club: 29 Books to Celebrate 29 Years
Whether he’s sharing insight from one of his recent reads or being spotted with a book in hand, it should come as no surprise that Harry Styles has a penchant for reading. Over the years, the list of books that Harry has mentioned, recommended, alluded to, or purchased continues to grow, and fans have taken to reading some of these texts themselves. Luckily, this growing list has a bit of something for every reader: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, cookbooks, and more. If reading a book from Harry’s conjectured bookshelf sounds of interest to you, here are 29 options brought to you by this month’s birthday boy himself.
- Charles Bukowski’s Burning in Water Drowning in Flame
Charles Bukowski is a German-American writer who Harry has mentioned on numerous occasions. In 2014, this particular book of selected poems, Burning in Water Drowning in Flame, was photographed in Harry’s hands. Years later, in an article with Variety magazine, American record producer Jeff Bhasker stated that Bukowski’s poetry had a large influence on Harry while he was writing his debut self-titled album.
- Charles Bukowski’s Love is a Dog From Hell
Love is a Dog From Hell is another poetry book written by Bukowski that explores themes of heartbreak and love. Harry mentioned this book as being one of his favorites in his 2016 cover spread with Another Man magazine. In this article, he goes on to explain, “In Love is a Dog From Hell, I just love the way Charles Bukowski uses language. It’s so real, gritty, and filthy, yet there is something so romantic about it.”
- Massimo Bottura’s Bread is Gold
Bread is Gold is a cookbook written by renowned Italian restaurateur and chef Massimo Bottura. During the summer of 2020, Bottura posted an Instagram story with Harry, who was happily holding his own copy of this book.
- Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar
A postmodern, post-apocalyptic novel, In Watermelon Sugar was published in the late 1960s. During Harry’s Tiny Desk Concert in March 2020, he gives credit to this novel for inspiring the chorus of his hit single “Watermelon Sugar.” Before singing the song, he explains, “I was with the guys who I made the first album with, and we had this idea… We had this chorus/melody which was pretty repetitive, and a Richard Brautigan book, In Watermelon Sugar, was on the table, and I was like, ‘that’ll sound cool.’”
- Alain De Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness
The Architecture of Happiness is a book that analyzes beauty, human surroundings, and how desire becomes manifested through architecture. Harry has been a fan and acquaintance of the author, Alain De Botton, for years, telling Vogue in 2020, “I just think he’s brilliant. I saw him give a talk about the keys to happiness and how one of the keys is living among friends and how real friendship stems from being vulnerable with someone.” He then gifted Hamish Bowles, his interviewer for the Vogue article, a copy of this book.
- Alain De Botton’s The Course of Love
In the same Vogue article, Harry also gives credit to this novel, stating that The Course of Love gave him an appreciation for the work that’s required in cultivating and sustaining a romantic bond. In his cover story, Harry explains, “When it comes to relationships, you just expect yourself to be good at it…[but] being in a real relationship with someone is a skill.”
- Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking
This 1979 book of essays focuses on the history and political climate of California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Harry has been a fan of Joan Didion’s work for years and even posted a tribute to her on the day of her death in 2021. He has been spotted reading her books backstage and leaving bookstores with her books in hand. In his 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Harry says, “I think that [The Year of Magical Thinking] was the first book I read twice.”
- T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land & Other Poems
The Waste Land & Other Poems is known to contain T.S. Eliot’s most pivotal and significant poetry. Harry was photographed with a copy of this book at his 2019 Fine Line listening party in Paris, France.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature and Selected Essays
This book, a collection of essays that examine Emerson’s personal philosophies on life, is the first text that Harry used in a professional context, utilizing it repeatedly as a means for album promotion. In March 2022, it made a debut appearance behind the first door of Harry’s “You Are Home” account on Instagram. Later that same year, when Harry released his third album, Harry’s House, the album packaging contained the quote, “Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house, a world; and beyond its world a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you: build, therefore, your own world,” from the same book.
- Gabriella Franchini’s I sogni in tasca
This moving Italian memoir discusses how the death of the author’s brother impacted her and her family. In 2018, Harry was seen carrying a copy of this book around, which he reputedly got signed by the author while in Modena, Italy.
- Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning
A 1946 memoir that describes the author’s experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, this book describes Frankl’s psychotherapeutic methods, which involve identifying a purpose in life and immersively imagining the outcome. In his 2022 Rolling Stone interview, Harry lists this book as one of the recent reads that moved him.
- Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha
This Indian novel tells the story of one man’s spiritual journey of self-discovery. In Harry’s 2016 interview with Another Man, he states, “A friend gave me Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse when we started traveling together. It makes a lot of sense to me. I think it’s a really important book.”
- bell hooks’ The Will to Change: Men Masculinity, and Love
The Will to Change is a book written by an American author and social activist, bell hooks, in which she shows men how to express the emotions that are an essential part of who they are. According to Rolling Stone magazine, this was one of the books Harry read during the 2020 pandemic.
- Rachel Kelly’s Walking on Sunshine: 52 small steps to happiness
This book offers 52 tools to help better manage the pressures of everyday life. In 2015, a photo of Harry reading this book began circulating online, followed by different headlines that promoted the book by saying, “If it’s good enough for Harry Styles, it’s good enough for everybody.”
- Elton John’s Me: Official Autobiography
This autobiography for English singer, pianist, and composer Sir Elton John was mentioned by Harry in his 2019 interview with The Guardian as being a book he had recently read and enjoyed.
- Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
According to a social media post by NYC bookstore The Strand, Harry stopped by the business in 2019 and bought this book.
- Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood
Norwegian Wood is a 1987 novel that speaks of loss and sexuality. Harry has spoken about his love for Murakami’s work on multiple occasions and once shared that his friend [Molly Hawkins] gave him his first copy of this book. Harry went on to say, “It was the first book, maybe ever, where all I wanted to do all day was read this.”
- Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
In his 2019 cover article with Rolling Stone, Harry expands on his love for Murakami, sharing that he spent his 25th birthday drinking tea and reading Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle inside a cafe in Tokyo.
- Keith Richards’ Life
This memoir by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was mentioned in Harry’s 2019 interview with The Guardian. He stated that he had recently read and enjoyed this book.
- Bethan Roberts’ My Policeman
This heart-wrenching, tragic love story was inspired by the life of English author E.M. Forster and his relationship with long-time companion Bob Buckingham. Harry was first spotted with a copy of this novel in early 2020, then went on to audition for the leading role of Tom Burgess for the film adaptation. According to the movie’s director, Michael Grandage, Harry was cast due to his vulnerable and authentic representation of the character.
- Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
This book explores the re-emergence and popularity of publicly shaming others, specifically online. In his 2021 interview with Dazed magazine, Harry talks about reading this book, saying, “It got me thinking, for a long time, about how scared I was of saying or doing the wrong thing, and how much trouble that would get me in. I was still growing up, making mistakes. I’m not ashamed of those things anymore. I’ve seen subconscious changes in a lot of places in my life.”
- Rumi’s Selected Poems: The Essential Rumi
This is a well-known collection of poems from thirteenth-century philosopher, mystic, and scholar, Rumi. In a 2017 interview with Another Man magazine, Harry listed this book as being one of his three most prized possessions.
- Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
Love is a Mixtape is an autobiographical memoir that explores Sheffield’s relationship with his wife and the emotional aftermath of her death. Sheffield is an American music journalist who also happens to be friends with Styles. Sheffield once said in a Rolling Stone article that after reading this particular book, Harry sent him a text, and their budding friendship was formed. During an interview for i-D, actor Timothée Chalamet asked Harry if he could pick one book to read for the rest of his life, and Harry chose this one. He then told Timothée, “I would suggest you read if you haven’t already. It’s really beautiful.”
- Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation and Other Essays
This 1966 book is a collection of essays written by American writer, philosopher, and political activist Susan Sontag. In October of 2018, Harry was spotted carrying a copy of this book into the recording studio while in Los Angeles.
- Susan Sontag’s Notes on “Camp”
This is a published essay also written by Sontag that was first published in 1964. The essay explores the connotations and meanings of the word camp. Harry read this essay prior to hosting the 2019 Met Gala, where the theme was “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” and the entire event was inspired by Sontag’s writing.
- Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women
This non-fiction book covers the sexual and emotional lives of three different women from various backgrounds. In a 2019 interview with The Guardian, Harry mentioned he’d been reading a lot and that this was one of the books that had strongly stood out to him.
- Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad
This moving historical-fiction novel is set in the 1850s and tells the story of a slave who sought freedom on the Underground Railroad. Harry mentioned this novel as one he was reading during his 2022 cover story with Rolling Stone.
- Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise
This novel is a fairly recent release that takes place in an alternate version of New York City. Harry was spotted with this book in late 2022.
- The Observer’s Book of Pond Life
And finally, this blue and green prop from Harry’s Rolling Stone cover shoot makes for a well-loved, vintage keepsake. In their 2022 September issue, Harry lounges on a sofa with this book in hand: a pocketable guide that features drawings, descriptive text, and short essays on macroscopic and microscopic freshwater life.