Phoebe Bridgers: TOP TEN BOOKS


It’s an odd thing to have your career go into overdrive during a global pandemic, but that’s exactly what happened to the L.A.-based singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. After releasing her sophomore album, Punisher, in June, Bridgers watched from lockdown as it rose to pole position on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. Instead of touring, she was at home like everyone else, cooking and tweeting and practicing her yoga postures.

Bridgers started playing guitar at the age of 13, and found her way into a punk band, Sloppy Jane, at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts that led to a series of spots in Apple ads (“minorly soul-sucking” she told The New Yorker) that featured in an Apple iPhone ad. Her debut album, “Stranger in the Alps,” was released in 2017 to widespread acclaim (“This is the arrival of a giant,” tweeted John Mayer) and was followed with a collaboration with Bright Eyes founder Conor Oberst recording under the name Better Oblivion Community Center.

Like Elliott Smith, one of her musical heroes, Bridgers songs are intricate stories of heartache and loss, but spiked with humor and wry observations. They can be melancholy and brightly impish at the same time. Little surprise that equally impish writers like David Sedaris, Elif Batuman, and Maurice Sendak make her desert island reading list. (Photo: Frank Ockenfels)

Below are Phoebe Bridgers’ favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


In the Night Kitchen

Maurice Sendak
Reading this with my parents is one of my earliest memories.  I remember being fascinated by the naked body of a boy covered in dough.  Probably the first penis I ever saw.  I remember he makes a plane out of dough to get milk, and the best line by far is when he falls in, “I’m in the milk and the milk’s in me.”
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

J.K. Rowling
The first book I ever really wanted to read on my own. I spent hours as a kid staring at different stuff in my room, trying to make something levitate. To this day, when most people would reference the Bible to make a point about morality or whatever, instead of Judas or Jesus, I’m more likely to bring up Snape or Sirius. When I miss home on tour and can’t get to sleep, I listen to the audiobooks. My inner monologue is narrated by Jim Dale.
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When You Are Engulfed in Flames

David Sedaris
I’ve read everything he’s ever published, but this one is still my favorite.  Weirdly, it’s about his experience quitting smoking.  I’m not a smoker but I think about the way he talks about addiction every day. And it’s mostly set in Japan, my favorite place on earth. 
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Tenth of December

George Saunders
The kind of book you finish and walk around in a weird fog for a couple days. The coolest thing to me about George Saunders is his ability to create wildly different characters, and make you empathize with each one. As someone who writes pretty much exclusively from my own perspective, this is a mysterious gift.
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Modern Tarot

Michelle Tea
I’ve loved tarot since I was a kid, but learning to read it has always seemed like a chore. And tarot books for the most part are just super boring. Still, I love this book. Michelle Tea is a queer witch poet and author who does an incredible job of humanizing every card. I brought it to the studio to kill time with my band between takes, and most of them bought copies.
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The Body Keeps the Score

Bessel van der Kolk
People have been trying to get me to read this book my entire life.  My mom, various friends and partners, but I hate when people think I will like something. Especially when that thing is about trauma and mental illness. But I finally read it at the beginning of this year, and I can’t believe I made it this far without it.  It is sort of traumatizing in itself, but it inspired me to finally set up a session with a good therapist.
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Conversations with Friends

Sally Rooney
Not a deep cut, I know, but this book deeply affected me last year. It made me feel like my life experience is completely unoriginal, and reaffirmed that I wish I was Irish.
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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Michelle McNamara
The Golden State Killer was active in California in the 70s and 80s, before I was born. Michelle McCnamera made it her life’s purpose to find out as much as she could about him and his victims, and she made incredible breaks in the case just sitting at home on her computer.  She died unexpectedly in 2016, two years before The Golden State Killer was caught, and although the authorities didn’t officially give her credit for having a hand in catching him, the spotlight she shone on the case made an enormous difference at the very least. 
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The Idiot

Elif Batuman
Don’t judge a book by it’s plot. The story of a girl who has a crush at school. But the writing is better than Salinger.
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Her Body and Other Parties 

Carmen Maria Machado
Horny, spooky, sad, smart, queer, funny…maybe my favorite book of all time. And if you’re into Law and Order SVU fan fiction, look no further.
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