U2Literary.com Reading List

The Bible /Various

Bono has on multiple occasions spoken about the Bible, quoted the Bible etc. I don't think any further explanation is necessary.

The Screwtape Letters /C.S. Lewis

Watch the "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" video closely. When the Bono character at the end is hit by the car, he's carrying a book. This is the book he's reading. The Screwtape Letters consists of letters between a senior devil and his student on all the ways to get people to go astray.

The poems of Seamus Heaney

Bono gave the Pope a book of poems by Seamus Heaney when he met him for the Jubilee 2000 thing. I don't know of any direct influence of Heaney's on Bono's lyrics but he must be an important writer to him if he'd give the Pope a book of his work.

Salome /Oscar Wilde

See Tarheel Tim's essay on Mysterious Ways in the Lit & Lyric section to see a direct influence. There's a direct correlation between this play and the songs "Mysterious Ways" and "Salome".

The Ground Beneath Her Feet /Salman Rushdie

The lyrics to the song of the same name are straight from the book. One of the few songs for which Bono has not written the lyrics.

Flannery O'Connor's short stories

Bono in interviews has mentioned Flannery O'Connor and her short stories as being an influence to him. I don't know of any direct reflections in the song lyrics nor have I ever read any of her work. Any suggestions are more than welcome!

The Portrait of Dorian Grey /Oscar Wilde

"A picture in grey/ Dorian Grey/ Just me by the sea..." The reference to this book about a man and his portrait (a lot of other things, too) is in the song "The Ocean" on Boy . Bono also mentions Dorian Grey when someone mentioned how young Larry Mullen still looks in a recent interview. I don't remember which one so don't ask! :)

The Brothers Karamazov /Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Letter & Papers From Prison /Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship /Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A Reasonable Faith /Tony Campolo
A Christian Manifesto /Francis Schaeffer
The Message / Eugene Peterson

All these books where mentioned by Bono himself to a fan who wishes to remain anonymous. No, Bono did not cite specific song lyrics that grew out of his having read these books. And no, the fan did not ask. But Bono has read these and considers them important enough to mention them. Trust me on this one. (No, I'm not the fan... If I were, you'd know. Believe me.)

The poems of William Butler Yeats

Do I really need to go into this? Bono has quoted his poetry in concert. "My Wild Irish Rose" is basically a rip-off of Yeats' "Down by the Salley Gardens". The references are so many and so obvious, I went out and bought myself a copy of the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats . See the Lit & Lyric section for direct discussions of this.

The poetry of Patrick Kavanaugh

I remember reading somewhere that Bono said Ali's parents used to see Kavanaugh going out for walks in Dublin. He seemed to be pretty excited about this. Kavanaugh's poems also seem to have influenced Bono's lyrics on October .

Cry, the Beloved Country/ Alan Paton

A fan feels the meaning and writing in this book remind her strongly of songs between War and Rattle & Hum. Though there is no evidence this book has directly influenced Bono, it certainly seems like it could have. That's good enough.

The Executioner's Song / Norman Mailer

Edge mentions this in the book "U2: At the End of the World" AND in the "Making of the Joshua Tree" video as an influence on The Joshua Tree. No, he doesn't say *how* or in which song etc.

Lord of the Flies / William Golding

"The Fly" is inspired by the book Lord of the Flies by Sir William Golding. The song and character created by Bono, symbolises the black side of the human soul. The Fly is an insect with a bad name, and stands for disease and fall. It concretes the bad human sides: corruption, hedonism, greed for money, manipulation, etc. The Fly was also the servant of Bal (Be‘lzebub). The above submitted by: Mathijs Schaap.

What's So Amazing About Grace / Phillip Yancey

Sent in by U2Literary reader Erin : Bono talked about it... either in Rolling Stone or Details last year. He said he'd read it and that he had grace on the brain, hence "Grace".