By Genna Rivieccio

It’s five years today since Michael Jackson’s untimely death. Though many people don't automatically associate the King of Pop with being an "intellectual" man so much as a soulful one, he actually had quite an extensive collection of books. A frequenter of L.A. favorites like Book Soup and Skylight Books, Jackson reportedly cultivated a library of over 10,000 works.

As a child, Jackson’s favorite books were Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. His adult interest continued on a philosophical bend; Ralph Waldo Emerson was a favorite, according to Doug Dutton, owner of the now-defunct Dutton’s Books in L.A., which Jackson visited regularly since the 1980s. “He loved the poetry section,” Dutton noted.

The revelation of Jackson’s library at Neverland Ranch unfortunately first came to the public’s attention during his 2005 molestation trial. “He was very well read in the classics of psychology and history and literature,” his attorney, Bob Sanger, recalled. “He loved to read. … Especially for someone who was self-taught, as it were, and had his own reading list — he was very well-read.”

The auction of Jackson’s estate following his death in 2009 shed further light on his reading habits. Included in the lot, amongst crystal-studded gloves and music awards, was a 1911 edition of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, telling perhaps of his own lasting innocence in spite of a life spent in the spotlight.

Genna Rivieccio graduated with a degree in screenwriting and closely identifies with Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. She has written for pop culture blogs, including Culled Culture, The Toast and Behind the Hype, as well as satire for Missing a Dick and The Burning Bush.

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