Sun Ra’s Reading List

In a conversation with Arkestra drummer Samurai Celestial, I mentioned an interest in the required reading list that Sun Ra issued to his students when he taught his class at Cal Berkeley in the 1970s. I have personally been interested in this list for some time, as I have always wondered what Ra would recommend book- wise. Well, thanks to Samurai’s kindness, he was able to supply me with a copy of the list to share with everyone.

The course was listed as “Sun Ra 171”, in Afro-American Studies. Supposedly, many students could not find a lot of the titles. Samurai has read many of the books but also can’t find some of them. ~Jim Johnson

View Sun Ra’s course at: Sun Ra Study Course #171

“… in 1971 … Sun Ra returned to California to become a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley. … with class handouts, assignments and a reading list which included The Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Radix (a 19th century astrology journal), Alexander Hislip’s Two Babylons, books on etymology, hieroglyphics, color therapy, Afro-American folklore, ex-slaves’ writings, the theosophical works of Madame Blavatsky, spiritually channeled tomes like The Book of Oahspe, Henry Dumas’ poetry and short stories, Dr. Livingston’s travels in Africa, the Bible, and accounts of the origins of the Rosicrucians” ~ John Szwed, biographer of Sun Ra, author of Space is the Place.


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