Amy Taylor’s 5-book guide to being a human

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The pub rock frontwoman and champion of consensual violence shares the books that convinced her ‘reading is the best thing ever’

In the spring of 2019, I watched Amy Taylor crawl onto the stage of the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, blood dripping down her nose onto her Gucci bodysuit, after diving into the adoring crowd headfirst. A sweaty fan removed his shoe, chucking it in her general direction. Her guitarist grabbed it, poured his beer in, and swallowed the beer from the shoe before spewing it onto the stage and, to my pleasant surprise, into the audience. This, just another night on the road for Melbourne-based pub rock band Amyl and the Sniffers (named in equal part after the chemical name for poppers and their dear frontwoman Amy Louise).

With the hair and chutzpah of Cherie Currie and the on-stage manners of Trailer Park Boys’s Ricky, Taylor, alongside her band, charmed the world with her grueling performances and toothy grin. Taylor’s pandemic life has been busier than most of our pre-pandemic lives. She’s covered John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves” with Viagra Boys’s Sebastian Murphy in a delicious duet, modeled for cover shoots, popped in for a cameo of Sleaford Mods’s latest album, starred in the Aussie short film “High Rivals,” released a live album, and painted posters. And, she’s been reading.

For Document, Taylor walks us through books she “just liked really” that walk you through how to be human. “Disclaimer: I’m aware that my descriptions of these books are vague. I’m not even coming close to doing them justice to the point that it’s borderline insulting. These books are exceptional and thought-provoking and insightful and just sick. Also, want to note that reading books is the best thing ever. As someone who read about two books prior to 2020 I wish I started earlier all want to do is read them. Feel like that’s a worthwhile thing to mention.”

Voices Behind The Wall: Ninety Prison Stories by John P.Farrell
“Short stories/poems from inmates over the years at a prison. It’s written by a prison psychologist. It’s really twisted evil and dark but that makes it humorous and dually sickening because it’s so real. I think life can be pretty dark and the honesty is inspiring. It’s pretty fucked up too though.”

Enter Whining by Fran Drescher
“Was just fun to read. I like Fran Drescher and her outlook on life. I took inspiration from all the character she oozes.”

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bia in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez
“Explains the gender data gap. Talks about feminism in a realistic and statistical way. Changed my life.”

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
“It dispels the myth about success and fame being soul based on merit. Talks about the variety of things that affect someone’s trajectory and life experience. LOVE IT.”

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
“This book is the best! Explains the evolution of humans in a digestible and thought-encouraging way. Changed my outlook on humans and life to be honest.”