Great Reading: A Pile Of Nick Cave’s Fave Books

So who does remember his late 2000’s museum shows? Kind-of combining last month Cave’s website The Red Hand Files he list twelve books he recommend to a young writer to read, I’ll copy and paste that list far below but previous as close as I’ve got to looking at Nick’s own bookshelf’s was Museum of W.A. exhibition in 2009. This was a touring show of Aussie museums in capital cites of all Cave’s stuff. The best of it was hand-written lyrics like from late 1970’s to 2007’s Grinderman, the kind-of latest album at than time. I do remember looking the pages and pages of cut or edited out verses or lines of then single No Pussy Blues, it seem almost endless what didn’t even make it into that song and thinking some of those lines would have made the song much more funny/dirty but maybe that’s not what he wanted to do do with it? His hand-made books were another great bit of the exhibition, like his early 80’s “Sacred & Profane” notebook where religion and pornography images sat side by side. Or his handwritten dictionary of obscure words of the mid-80’s or his “Weather Diaries” of early 2000’s etc. Also a bookshelf of his fave books were included, now in dot points I will list them here to maybe compare to his 2019 list. In truth I would love to see/know the complete Nick Cave home library of all his books but who knows if that’s ever going to happen? Here’s just book list from that 2009 exhibition now:

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • In The Belly Of The Beast by Jack Henry Abbott
  • Flowers Of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
  • A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman
  • The Collected Works of Billy The Kid by Michael Ondaatje
  • Thank You Fog by W.H. Auden
  • High Windows by Philip Larkin
  • Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 1940-45
  • Louis Wain: The Man Who Drew Cats by Rodney Dale
  • The Cantos by Ezra Pound
  • The Collected Works of St. John of The Cross
  • American Murder Ballads and their Stories by Olive Woolley Burt
  • Sisi Of Francis by Mrs. Robert Goff
  • A Flower Book For the Pocket by Macgregor Skene
  • The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila
  • The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton
  • Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis
  • Selected Poems 1956-1968 by Leonard Cohen
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • Inferno & From an Occult Diary by August Strindberg
  • The Unvanquished by William Faulkner
  • Collected Poems by John Betjeman
  • Butler’s Lives of the Saints: Concise Edition
  • W.H. Auden: A Tribute edited by Stephen Spender
  • The Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies & The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
  • William Blake Three Volume set
  • Roget’s Thesaurus
  • The Penguin Dictionary of Curious & Interesting Words
  • The Sunburnt Country: Profile of Australia edited by Ian Beven
  • The Observer’s Book of Garden Flowers
  • Everyman’s Library Pocket Poem: Erotic Poems selected & edited by Peter Washington

The book tie-in for the museum show was very cool wicked simply called Nick Cave Stories as published by The Arts Centre, Melbourne is well worth tracking down but I can’t seem to find it online but somehow exhibition’s website is still up and running, linked here.

As with the other lists I have posted here on The Red Hand Files, this is in no way definitive and by no means reflects the ‘best’ books I have read, nor are these necessarily the greatest books by the particular author I have chosen, but here are a dozen books of fiction that I love. Most of them I read when I was a quite young, and each of them introduced me to worlds that were strange and fascinating and new. I hope you like them.

Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Much love, Nick

From issue #49 of The Red Hand Files linked here.


Nick Cave.
NC himself visiting his own exhibition in Melbourne!

Noticing the only book title above and a NC song that share the very same title is Rings of Saturn, track was from the last Bad Seeds album Skeleton Tree of 2016 so here’s that track for my song of the day:

Cheers 🙂


  1. This sounds like it must have been a great exhibit. There’s a couple from this list in my library and a couple more from the list on Red Hand Files (which I’m now discovering and exploring for the first time, thanks)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah yeah, it’s pretty nerve-racking! i when to one the Aussie shows which was really like a lot more stage banter than a normal show and really long! i couldn’t really think at the time! Well, mind when into melt down but was a great show and everything! 🙂


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