Butcher Babies' Carla Harvey Picks Her Top 5 Favorite Books
"When I was a kid, I was shy and introverted. My best friends were Pantera and books," says Butcher Babies frontwoman Carla Harvey. Inspired by her love of books, the vocalist has written and just released her semi-autobiographical novel, ‘Death and Other Dances.' Here, Harvey picks her Top 5 Favorite Books of All Time for Revolver. Check out her selections below and let us know what you think in the comments.
You can purchase 'Death and Other Dances' on Harvey’s webstore.
Butcher Babies also just announced a covers EP, 'Uncovered,' due out September 30.
1. 'Ham on Rye' by Charles Bukowski
"I could fill this whole list with Bukowski books. He is undoubtedly the biggest influence on my own storytelling and I have inhaled everything that he ever wrote. It’s a horrible thing when your favorite authors, musicians and artists are dead and you have already consumed their entire catalogue. To know you’ll never again have fresh material from them is heartbreaking. Luckily, I never get sick of rereading Bukowski. 'Ham on Rye' was the first Bukowski novel I read, and I was immediately hooked on his use of language. He is crass, raw, and doesn’t use metaphors to glaze things over. Bukowski tells it exactly how it is. He uses an alter ego (Henry Chinaski) to write the semi-autobiographical works in which he is an acne riddled, alcoholic antihero. 'Ham on Rye' focuses on his abusive childhood and coming of age in Depression-era America. His character descriptions are so vivid that you feel like you could reach out and touch them. And if you live in Los Angeles, you will love his descriptions of the city, and undoubtedly recognize a place or two. After 'Ham On Rye,' pick up my second favorite Bukowski book, 'Women.'"
2. 'Diary of a Drug Fiend' by Aleister Crowley
"I picked up 'Diary of a Drug Fiend' secondhand when I was weaning myself off drugs years ago. This book really explores the psychology of addiction. It follows two people in the midst of a whirlwind romance, fueled by cocaine and heroin. It celebrates the drugs at first, and then the privileged couple take a downward spiral almost losing everything--until they are introduced to Thelema and the idea of true will by an occultist. I wasn’t that into the black magic aspect of the book, but I loved the idea of ridding ourselves of false desires, conflicts, and habits to attain our true will. For me, that just meant knocking off the bullshit and getting serious about my career. I think what I found most fascinating about this book was that even though it was written in 1922, the description of the couples highs and lows were exactly how I would have described my own as an addict some eighty years later! Only a true addict could have written those feelings so clearly. Definitely a great read for anyone who has ever struggled with their own addictions or anyone who has been curious about it."
3. ''See a Grown Man Cry, Now Watch Him Die' by Henry Rollins
"I picked up this collection of Henry Rollins’ writings when I was in high school and it absolutely floored me. It remains my favorite book of 'poetry' to this day. Many excerpts were written after Rollins’ best friend Joe Cole was shot and killed, and it just explodes with raw emotion. It is absolutely visceral. As you read you feel like you are reading the pages straight from his diary. It’s not perfect prose, some pages are made up of more fragmented thoughts than others. However, it is one of the most pure looks at grief I have ever seen. I also love how honest he is about what it’s truly like to be on the road. I have always identified with his stories of loneliness and alienation, but I do even more nowadays since I am on tour over half the year away from my home and everything I love. By the way, Henry Rollins signed my copy for me. Be jealous."
4. 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho
"I wish that I had read this book in high school, but glad to have found it when I did. I read it in one sitting, at a time in my life when I had a big decision to make, and simply couldn’t put it down. I may have even shed a tear or two. But don’t tell anyone. 'The Alchemist' is basically a simple fable about listening to your heart and dreams and knowing that your life has a grand purpose and that the forces of the Universe will conspire to help fulfill that purpose. I think we all need to read this book at some point in our lives to recharge our batteries and rethink what is possible. This book also reminds us how important our journey is through this life--sometimes what you think you’re after isn’t it at all. Another little lesson in this book that stood out especially to me was not letting a relationship hold you back from fulfilling your dream or full potential. If someone truly cares about you they will support your dreams and not hinder them. That big decision I had to make the first time I read 'The Alchemist' may have had something to do with the last bit. I’ll never tell."
5. 'Save Me the Waltz' by Zelda Fitzgerald
"If you didn’t know that Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, was also a writer, get yourself to a bookstore and pick up her collected works. I’m a big fan of Scott’s work, and since most of it is semi-autobiographical and his wife’s character always seemed so colorful, I had to get her books too. Zelda had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and as part of her treatment one of her doctors had her write two hours a day. As a result, 'Save Me The Waltz' was born. The doctors she befriended in the psychiatric facility she was staying at thought the book was great and that it should be published, but when Scott Fitzgerald read it he was furious because Zelda had written a semi-autobiographical novel that touched on shared events that he had been trying to write about for four years. He tried to get publishers to dismiss it, but the book was published regardless. I love the thought of Scott Fitzgerald, author extraordinaire, being furiously jealous of his wife’s damn good book. I hate that he tried to hold her back though. That’s why her book is on this list, and not one of his."