Read like Harry Styles: 10 Books the global pop star recommends

A true romantic


By Marissa Chin

FEATURED IMAGES: Amanda Fordyce / Rolling Stone | / Instagram
Read like Harry Styles: 10 Books the global pop star recommends

Harry Styles is a busy man. Apart from jetting across the globe for his sold-out Love on Tour arena world tour and starring in not one, but two major acting roles in 2022, Styles also has a fashion line collaboration with Gucci and launched his beauty company, Pleasing. Yet, the worldwide pop star still makes time to read (we’re trying not to look at our own growing pile of books in the corner of our room…). 

While the former One Direction member admitted that reading wasn’t initially “his thing”, he eventually grew to love it because he was trying to impress his beau of the time, which is honestly just as relatable. In celebration of his 29th birthday today, we’ve gleaned 10 books that Harry Styles has loved, treasured and recommended that will hopefully give us more insight into his whimsical and romantic mind.


Love Is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield


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A much-loved book amongst the Harries fandom, it is featured in a now-famous photo of Styles sensually posing with it on a bed. Shirtless. While this was reason enough for fans to rush out to purchase the book, there was another notable occasion Styles mentioned it. In an interview with Timothée Chalamet for i-D Magazine, both actors were asked to recommend a book they could read forever. Styles, the cheeky man that he is, picked two books instead and one of them was Love Is a Mixtape by Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield—who also interviewed the star for their 2019 cover story in a full-circle moment. The music memoir tells the tragic love story of Sheffield and his wife’s journey of making mix tapes for each other before she passed away very suddenly. It’s heartbreaking, uplifting and, as Styles describes, “really beautiful.” 

Purchase Love Is a Mixtape here.


The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami 

Remember there were two books Styles said he could read forever? The second book he recommended to Chalamet was Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, which is also one of BTS RM’s absolute favourites. In fact, he described it as the first book he couldn’t put down, a feeling many book lovers can relate to. Styles loves Murakami and we think it’s worthwhile to mention The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as he told Rolling Stone that he spent his 25th birthday alone, reading it in a Tokyo cafe. The story follows Toru Okada, who enjoys his role as a ‘house husband’ until his cat disappears, his wife begins to behave strangely and he starts to encounter people with eccentric and fantastic life stories. We would like to think for his birthday today, Styles is sitting somewhere in a cosy cafe reading another Murakami book.

Purchase The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle here.


Love Is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski


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Out of all the authors on this list, it’s arguable that American poet Charles Bukowski has the largest impact on Styles musically and on a personal level. If you’ve ever wondered how the singer comes up with some of the most romantic lyrics, traces of Bukowski can definitely be seen in his works. Not only has he cited Bukowski’s poetry as inspiration for his first album, he has even used the poem aptly titled Style as the opening for his song Fine Line in 2019, “Style is the answer to everything…” The artist has been seen with multiple Bukowski books, but Love is a Dog From Hell is noteworthy as he named it one of his three most cherished books for Another Man Magazine in 2016. The collection of poems is dark and gritty—and even misogynistic at times, so do be careful before diving in—but it doesn’t shy away from taboo topics such as sex and drugs. As Styles puts it, “I just love the way Charles Bukowski uses language. It’s so real, gritty and filthy, yet there is something so romantic about it all.”

Purchase Love Is a Dog From Hell here.


The Course of Love by Alain de Botton 

Styles loves de Botton. In fact, his love for the British author and philosopher runs so deep that he even designed his very own hoodie with two black and white photos of de Botton printed on it and donned it proudly on the streets of Hollywood (worth a Google!). The As It Was singer thinks he’s simply “brilliant” and after reading The Course of Love, realised what it took to create and sustain a romantic connection. Set in Edinburgh, the story follows a couple’s journey from the birth of their love to their life together after, and how they maintain the love between them against the pressures of modern life.

Purchase The Course of Love here.


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse


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Not one to be intimidated by the classics, Styles has also named Siddhartha as another of his most prized books in his collection. Published in 1922, the eponymous novel follows a wealthy man who forsakes his privileged life in search of meaning and reason in the world. It’s an eye-opening book that is full of wisdom, philosophy and spirituality that has surely shaped Styles’ own perspectives on life and spiritual values. “It makes a lot of sense to me. I think it’s a really important book.” Siddhartha is just under 200 pages, so give it a try and perhaps you’ll also come out with a different view of life.

Purchase Siddhartha here.


So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson


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Published in 2015 by British journalist Jon Ronson, this book explores the re-emergence and ramifications of online shaming and cancel culture in the age of social media. An important read for Gen Z and millennials, we’re sure many will find this book relatable and emblematic to the current online space, just as it did for Styles. In a 2021 interview with Dazed, the Watermelon Sugar singer credited the book for making him bolder and “unashamed” to make mistakes anymore.

Purchase So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed here.


The White Album by Joan Didion


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Didion is one of Styles’ favourite authors:  he was seen reading one of her books backstage and was also spotted purchasing The Year of Magical Thinking from a bookstore in 2019. The White Album is a collection of essays that chronicle the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Featuring key events, trends and figures that defined that era of America, it’s clear that Styles also has his own rock star aspirations to perhaps be written in that way one day. If you’re a historical or pop culture junkie, consider picking this one up.

Purchase The White Album here.


My Policeman by Bethan Roberts


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Before he was cast in the film adaptation of My Policeman, Styles was already spotted reading the romance novel. Fun fact: he loved the book so much that he even sought out the role of the main protagonist before the director had an idea who to cast. Set in 1950s Bristol, My Policeman is a tragic tale of the thwarted love between Tom Burgess (Styles), who is in love with Patrick Hazelwood, a museum curator. Due to the discrimination against LGBT people during that time, Burgess decides to marry schoolteacher Marion as a cover-up, and the three individuals soon enter into a relationship of jealousy, control, and devastating love.

Purchase My Policeman here.


Notes on Camp by Susan Sontag


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Most likely reading up to prepare for his co-hosting responsibilities at the 2019 Met Gala, Notes on Camp was the inspiration behind the Met Gala theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” The 1946 essay may seem daunting, but it’s a fun read on camp sensibility, breaking the concept down into 58 digestible and quite silly bullet points. At around 60 pages, you’ll be able to breeze through it and revisit those Met Gala looks with a fresh pair of eyes.

Purchase Notes on Camp here.


Selected Poems by Rumi


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The final book of three that Styles distinguishes as his most treasured book is a collection of poems by Rumi. Another classic piece of literature, Rumi’s poetry proves to still be timeless despite being over 700 years old. A Persian poet and Islamic scholar, Rumi’s writings are full of nature imagery, meditations on spirituality and kindness. The last is a huge part of Styles’s own philosophy: his tour is called Love on Tour and ‘Treat People With Kindness’ is on his merchandise and is even a song. It’s hard not to see how Rumi’s principles of kindness and lyrical depth have influenced Styles’ own songwriting and outlook on life. 

Purchase Rumi’s Selected Poems here.


For more book-related reads, head here.

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