Elvis Presley loved to read.
Not only did he keep books at home at Graceland Mansion, he often took many books out on the road with him while he toured. Elvis’ favorite books are well-worn and well-loved; he would often underline his favorite passages and add notes in the margins.
National Read a Book Day is Sunday, September 6, so in celebration, here’s a look at a few books from Elvis’ collection.
Elvis’ record collection contains music from all genres, but he owned a lot of gospel records. His library is similar: There are books on just about every topic, but he owned a lot of religious books.
He owned many, many copies of The Holy Bible. Some are hard cover; some are soft covers. Some are copies that he purchased and some are gifts from fans.
In his King of Kings Holy Bible were found notes he’d written to himself on sheet music. He also kept a note from a fan in that Bible, as well as a card and bookmark.
One Bible, The New Chain Reference Bible, was a gift from the Elvis Presley Fan Club in Melbourne. “To Elvis with Fondest Wishes from Your Australian Fans,” is stamped on the inside cover.
Elvis was interested in and inspired by spiritualism and religion. His library reflects that: Titles in his library include “Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning” by Thomas Troward; “The Mystic Bible” by Dr. Randolph Stone; “Certain Women – A Study of Biblical Women” by Zona Bays Marshall; and, of course, one of his favorites, Joseph Benner’s “The Impersonal Life.” Elvis purchased hundreds of copies of that book over the years and gave them to family and friends.
Elvis had quite a collection of fascinating history books and historical biographies, too. Like the Bibles, some he purchased, while others were gifts from fans and friends.
Topics include American history and Presidents, World Wars I and II, the Kennedy family, Winston Churchill, Eugene Lyons and more.
Elvis also owned lots of books about sports, especially football and karate.
His library included “Illustrated History of Football” by Robert Smith; “The History of Pro Football” by Harold Claassen; and both volumes of “Vince Lombardi on Football.” Elvis also owned a signed copy of famed Ole Miss coach John Vaught’s “Rebel Coach.”
Elvis owned countless karate books. Just a few of his karate books include “Karate Kata Heian 5” and “Dynamic Karate” by M. Nakayama; “Asian Fighting Arts” by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith; “Advanced Karate” by Masutatsu Oyama.
Elvis shared his love of reading with his daughter, so the Presley family owned children’s books, too. Fans also gifted Elvis with their favorite books for children.
His collection included Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince,” story, a gift from a fan, and “The House at Pooh Corner” by A.A. Milne. Joan Walsh Anglund’s “Love Is A Special Way of Feeling” and “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You,” were each given to Elvis by fans. There’s also a Young Readers’s Bible in his collection, which was a gift from a fan in 1974.
If you want to do some reading on Elvis, you’re in luck: Shop Graceland has a great selection of interesting books on Elvis and Graceland you can buy. The shops at Graceland also have books to purchase while you’re here at the king’s castle.
Check out our Elvis Presley’s Books board on Pinterest, where we document the book collection Elvis built throughout his life.