John Waters has authored many books, many of which are non-fiction stories. He has also published screenplays from his films, collections of his photography and visual art.

John Waters: Pope of Trash
John Waters: Pope of Trash
DelMonico Books, September, 2023
Available from Amazon

This is the catalog accompanying John Waters' exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which presents costumes, props, scripts, drawings, correspondence, photography and oddball ephemera from all the films. It also features an interview with Waters and texts by the exhibition's curators and other film experts.

John Waters Liarmouth
Liarmouth... A Feel Bad Romance
Macmillan, May, 2022
Available from Amazon

In his first novel, John Waters tells the outrageous story of Marsha Sprinkle, a thief, a grifter, and a master of disguise. Despised by her family, including her own children, she ends up on the run from the law, her lover, and her loved ones. Vile humor abounds! Prepare to join the cult of bouncing!

John Waters Mr Know-It-All
Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdon of a Filth Elder
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May, 2019
Available from Amazon

Waters relates themes about which he is an expert including; how to fail upward in Hollywood; how to develop musical taste from Nervous Norvus to Maria Callas; how to build a home so ugly and trendy that no one but you would dare live in it; how to tell someone you love them without emotional risk; and how to cheat death itself. Through it all, Waters swears by one undeniable truth: “Whatever you might have heard, there is absolutely no downside to being famous. None at all.”

Studded with cameos of Waters’s stars, from Divine and Mink Stole to Johnny Depp, Kathleen Turner, Patricia Hearst, and Tracey Ullman, and illustrated with unseen photos from Waters’s personal collection.

John Waters Indecent Exposure catalogue
Indecent Exposure
University of California Press, October 2018
Available from Amazon

As the catalogue companion to his career retrospective, Indecent Exposure, this richly illustrated volume captures the exhibition’s imagery, sculpture and themes. It also features essays by the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Curator Kristen Hileman and art historian Jonathan David Katz; an introduction by Robert Storr; and an interview with Waters by photographer Wolfgang Tillmans.

John Waters Make Trouble Book
Make Trouble
Algonquin Books, April 2017
Available from Amazon

John Waters delivered the commencement speech to graduates of RISD in 2015, which is ironic since he was expelled from college himself! But Mr. Waters saw that as a qualifier, rather than a dis-qualifier, for giving advice to the next generation of artists and degenerates as they enter the art world and work force in earnest.

Peppered with illustrations by Eric Hanson (who also created the cover for Role Models), Make Trouble is a transcription of that speech, and is a rousing rally cry to anyone looking to influence the minds of a young person the verge of their next stage in life. Or anyone who is ready to shake up the system!

A 7” vinyl edition of John reading Make Trouble was issued exclusively by Jack White’s Third Man Records in 2017.
Make Trouble [7-inch Vinyl]

John Waters Carsick Book
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2014
Available from Amazon

At age 66, and a lifelong hitchhiker, John Waters decided to hitchhike across America, and document his trip and the people he would meet. But first, as documented in Carsick, he obsessed over what might happen.

The first two sections of the book dive deep into Waters’ psyche: The Best That Could Happen and The Worst That Could Happen. Followed up by The Real Thing, he proves that the actual journey was much more surprising and inspiring than he imagined. Carsick might also be seen as a manual for anyone thinking of attempting a similar adventure.

John Waters Role Models Book
Role Models
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2010
Available from Amazon

Role Models is, in fact, a self-portrait told through intimate profiles of favorite personalities—some famous, some unknown, some criminal, some surprisingly middle of the road. From Esther Martin, owner of the scariest bar in Baltimore, to the playwright Tennessee Williams; from the atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair to the insane martyr Saint Catherine of Siena; from the English novelist Denton Welch to the timelessly appealing singer Johnny Mathis—these are the extreme figures who helped the author form his own brand of neurotic happiness.

John Waters Unwatchable Book
Marianne Boesky Gallery, de Pury and Luxembourg, 2006
Available from Amazon

This catalogue collects photography and sculptures by John Waters from exhibits at de Pury and Luxembourg in Zurich, and at Marianne Boesky Galler in New York. Like his book Director's Cut, he uses photographs of the television to skewer cinematic themes, pop culture, the art world and his own backlog of work.

It also features an essay by Brenda Richardson, examining Waters's history, as well as each work in detail.

John Waters Three Screenplays
Hairspray, Female Trouble, and Multiple Maniacs: Three More Screenplays
Running Press, 2005
Available from Amazon

Published as a follow-up to the book Trash Trio, this volume collects three screnplays from John Waters films, for the first time in print. The book includes an original introduction by Waters and many stills from the films.

John Waters Change of Life Book
Change of Life
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2004
Available from Amazon

Change of Life was an exhibition of John Waters photography and sculpture at the New Museum in New York City shown from February - April 2004. This book captures all the work, along with contributions from co-curators Marvin Heiferman and Lisa Phillips, plus notes and essays by Gary Indiana, Brenda Richardson and Todd Solondz.

In the back, you'll find a very detailed accounting of his exhibits, from one-man shows to group situations. They even provide a filmography, bibliography and list of magazine articles by Mr. Waters!

John Waters Art - A Sex Book
Art: A Sex Book
Thames & Hudson, 2003
Available from Amazon

Written and compiled with Bruce Hainley, this book presents John's unique view of fine art. Thematically linked by sex, all the work discussed is pictured in lurid color photos. Artists included are Gary Lee Boas, Jeff Burton, Larry Clark, Peter Hujar, Richard Kern, Roy Lichtenstein, Jack Pierson, Peter Saul, Cindy Sherman, Lily van der Stokker, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Weegee and many, many more. The discussion between Waters and Hainley is a provocative read, and the photos are filthy and gorgeous.

John Waters Directors Cut Book
Director's Cut
Scalo, 1997
Available from Amazon

Director's Cut is a collection of what John calls his "little movie" photographs. In his own words: "I took my "little movie" photographs for years without telling anybody. It all started with my obsession to have a still from one of my older films which was never taken on the set. I remembered Divine's face in the one moment between rape and miraculous intervention where he lived up to the spirtual side of his name, but I didn't have the picture to prove it. I took hundreds of shots off the TV monitor, blundering my way into photography the same way I blundered into films, until I finally produced the still I wanted." And he does this to literally hundreds of films in this book, with commentary in the form of titles plus an afterword explaining his motives.

John Waters Trash Trio Book
Trash Trio: Three Screenplays of John Waters
A Vintage Original, October 1988

Trash Trio collects the screenplays for Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living and the never filmed sequel to Pink Flamingos, Flamingos Forever. This volume also includes many wonderful photos from the sets of PF and DL, as well as stills from the films.

This volume was re-published in 2005 as Pink Flamingos and Other Filth by Thunder's Mouth Press.
Available from Amazon

John Waters Crackpot Book
Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters
Vintage Books, Random House, October 1987

Crackpot collects 12 stories originally written for various magazines, but in slightly different form. Topics include: John Waters' Tour of L.A., Hatchet Piece (101 Things I Hate), The Pia Zadora Story, Why I Love the National Enquirer, How to Become Famous, and Why I Love Christmas. Truly hilarious!

A reprint from 2003 by Scribner adds 9 new chapters: Director's Commentary, Finally Footlights on the Fat Girls, Catty Corner, Crimes of Fashion, Independent Spirit Awards Monologues, John Waters Presents Boom!, Stalker and If I Was President.
Available from Amazon

John Waters Shock Value Book
Shock Value:
A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste

Dell Publishing Co., Inc., August 1981

Shock Value discusses the production of several Waters' films such as Female Trouble, Desperate Living and Pink Flamingos. Also included are a discourse on his hometown of Baltimore, and three stories originally written for Oui Magazine in 1979 including "Why I Love Violence". There are many rare photographs of Mr. Waters as well as his stars, posters for films, and of his hero - Russ Meyer.

A cassette of John reading seven chapters from the book was produced in 1989 by John Wynne and released by Caedmon.

And Shock Value was re-published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1995 with a new introduction from Mr. Waters and an updated Filmography.
Available from Amazon

In addition to the books authored by John Waters, there are, of course, many books about him and his films. Here's a selection:

John Waters Female Trouble Queer Classic Book
Female Trouble: A Queer Film Classic by Chris Holmlund
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017
Available from Amazon
Chris Holmlund is a Professor of Film, Women's Studies and French at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. This is the first title in the Queer Film Classic series to focus a John Waters film. In it, Holmlund's examines the film's camp aesthetic and its position in the history of independent film.

John Waters Shock Value Book
John Waters Interviews
University Press of Mississippi, 2011
Available from Amazon
A collection of interviews, edited by James Egan, spanning Waters' career from 1965 to 2010.

Mr. Egan is himself an award-winning, independent filmmaker and professor of film at the Graduate School of Cinematic Arts at USC. The book is part of the series Conversations with Filmmakers, published by the University Press of Mississippi.

Professor Egan has assembled a collection of the most enlightening interviews and articles that have defined the career of our hero. He brings a unique personal perspective to this anthology, as he has been a friend of Mr. Waters since 1973 while working with him on the production insurance for Female Trouble and Desperate Living. Spending time on the set, Egan got to witness Waters work at a seminal time in his directing career, and has also maintained a close relationship with many of the Dreamlanders.

John Waters Place Space Book
John Waters Place Space by Todd Oldham
AMMO Books , 2008
Available from Amazon
This book features full-color photographs of John Waters Baltimore home by designer Oldham. Also includes an essay by artist Cindy Sherman, postcards and a cover that unfolds into a giant poster! A very rare glimpse inside the private world of Mr. Waters.

John Waters Filthy Book
Filthy: The Weird World of John Waters by Robrt L. Pela
Alyson Publications, 2002
Available from Amazon

In one of the most bizarre moments in this book, Robrt Pela visits a clairvoyant who puts him in touch with the deceased Divine. A lengthy conversation ensues, and I swear you can almost hear Divine's voice. In case you aren't familiar with John's history, Filthy covers the basics: his childhood obsession with automobile accidents; the pattern of acquaintances that led to the Dreamland crew; the struggle to get his early movies screened. Robrt delves into the bad habits practiced by John and his friends as they ran from Baltimore to San Francisco, New York to Provincetown. The best chapter has to be The Cult of John wherein Pela gains entry into the home into the most obsessive JW collector in the world, Suki. You have to read it to believe it.

John Waters Desperate Visions Book
Desperate Visions: The Journal of Alternative Cinema by Jack Stevenson
Camp America Volume 1: John Waters / John & Mike Kuchar
Creation Pub Group, 1996
Out-of-print; used copies available from Amazon

As reviewed by Atomic Books in Baltimore: Camp America includes interviews not only with John Waters, but also with members of his notorious entourage; plus extensive interviews with George & Mike Kuchar and a comprehensive assessment of their career and influence. The book has many rare photographs, plus a filmography and index, and not only documents a fascinating period of extreme underground film-making, but contextualizes it firmly within the social fabric of the times, bringing the New York, Baltimore and San Francisco underground/sleaze film scenes of the '60s and '70s vividly to life.

John Waters by John G Ives Book
John Waters by John G. Ives
Thunders Mouth Press, 1992

This is an informal biography of Waters, as part of the American Original series, in the form of a discussion between himself and the author. Also included are conversations with Patty Hearst, Rachel Talalay, Pia Zadora, Ricki Lake, Sara Risher and Pat Moran. Due to the year published, much of the discussions revolve around the production of Cry Baby.
Author John G. Ives is an entertainment attorney and film business veteran. He founded Cinecom Films, and was CEO of FilmDallas Pictures.

Out-of-print; used copies available from Amazon

And here are a few books by and about other Dreamland cast members!

Cookie Mueller Edgewise book
Edgewise by Chloé Griffin
Bbooks Verlag, 2014
Available from Amazon

Edgewise, by Berlin-based actress and writer Chloé Griffin, tells the story of Cookie's life through an oral history composed of more than 80 interviews with the people who knew her, including John Waters, Mink Stole, Gary Indiana, Sharon Niesp, Max Mueller, Linda Yablonsky, Richard Hell, Amos Poe and Raymond Foye. The contributors take us from the late-1960s artist communes of Baltimore to 1970s Provincetown and New York, through 1980s Berlin and Positano. Along with the text, Edgewise includes artwork, unpublished photographs and archival material and photography by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, David Armstrong, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Hujar and others.

Postcards from Divine
Postcards from Divine by Noah Brodie, Dan Marshall, Frances Milstead and Michael O'Quinn
Everything Divine Incorporated, 2011
Available from Amazon

Postcards From Divine is a collection of more than 50 postcards written by Divine and sent to his parents while traveling and touring between 1977 and 1987. The book features never-before-seen personal photographs as well as quotes and stories from friends and colleagues including John Waters, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, Channing Wilroy, Susan Lowe, Jean Hill, Tab Hunter, Lainie Kazan, Alan J. Wendl, Ruth Brown, Deborah Harry, Jerry Stiller, Ricki Lake and more. It also contains a preface written by Divine's mother, Frances Milstead plus a comprehensive filmography and discography.

My Son Divine
My Son Divine by Frances Milstead with Steve Yeager and Kevin Heffernan
Alyson Books, 2001
Available from Amazon

For a deeper look at Divine's life and career, pick up My Son Divine, written by his mother Frances Milstead with Kevin Heffernan and Steve Yeager (director of Divine Trash). It's a large format paperback rich with photos throughout, including his first time out in drag as Liz Taylor! And the most complete discography I've ever seen.

Cookie Mueller Ask Dr Mueller Book
Ask Dr. Mueller by Cookie Mueller
Serpents Tail, 1997
Out of print: used copies available from Amazon
Aside from starring in classics like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, Cookie Mueller was an accomplished journalist. Writing from her New York home, Cookie dispensed advice, fiction, art reviews, and personal stories before dying of AIDS related causes in 1989. This volume collects most of her prose and is a treasure for any Waters fan. With an introduction by John Waters and a cover photo by her friend Nan Goldin.

Not Simply Divine
Not Simply Divine by Bernard Jay
Touchstone, 1994

You can also read more about Divine in the biography Not Simply Divine, written by his personal manager, Bernard Jay. In what might be best described as "controversial," this book does not shy away from painting an un-pretty picture of John Waters muse and friend. It also digs the dirt when it comes to family, drugs and ambition. Worth a read for die hard fans!