ROCK legend Jimmy Barnes has been telling stories all his life, in song — and in the last few years has penned two best-selling autobiographies.
Yet the Cold Chisel and solo vocalist had never been a fan of books, until he met wife Jane in 1979.
Yet one of the lesser-known influences of Mrs Barnes on Jimmy was instilling a love of reading that has stayed to this day. Here he shares his three favourite books — and tells why they have had such an impact.
(First, however, check out this week’s bestseller chart — Barnesy continues below)
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The first time I read this story I laughed so much that it made me feel something I had never really felt before — the need to go to the theatre. The idea of sitting through a play never appealed to me in the slightest, but that’s what I did. I went to watch a production of The Importance of Being Earnest and it was amazing. Since that day I have seen plays all over the world and I have found that, like music, live theatre can transport you to another world. Oscar Wilde showed me how funny telling a story about what seems to be an ordinary day in life can be. I still pick it up and read it when I need a laugh and I have seen a lot of different theatre productions of the play. It is one of my favourites.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Jane, my wife, handed this book to me when we first got married. I casually told her one day that I didn’t enjoy reading and that I had never really read that much since school. And I did admit that even at high school I avoided reading as much as I could. She felt saddened by this, telling me that I had missed one of the joys of life — being transported by a great story to a different world. So, I took the book and started reading. I still wasn’t that keen on the idea but as soon as I started I couldn’t put it down. This story of the breakdown of society and the struggle for power inspired me so much that the minute I finished it I picked up my guitar and started writing songs. In fact, you just have to look at my first solo album to hear one of them. The title of the song Boys Cry Out for War was taken directly from that book. Well-written books started inspiring me and I would read as much as I could. Before long I was reading Shakespeare and searching Jane’s bookshelf for more inspiration.
The Scottish Enlightenment by Alexander Broadie
This was a book that a good friend suggested I read just a few years ago and it was so interesting and informative that it gave me a sense of pride as a Scotsman. I thought that Scots were tough and loyal and all that, but I also had a lot of bad memories of my childhood in Scotland and this book showed me some of the wonderful things that Scots had achieved over the years — the great thinkers, teachers, philosophers and inventors that come from my home. The Scots were instrumental in the spread of world commerce and the creation of great new nations. I finished the book and had a whole new understanding of where I came from. The world would not be the same without the work of so many enlightened Scotsmen.
* Working Class Boy and Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes are both published by Harper Collins.
Working Class Boy, the movie, will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 14 November.
TALK BOOKS LIKE BARNESY
BARNESY’S favourite books are a varied bunch. Did you know he’s also pondering his own venture into the thriller/horror fiction genre?