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    If You Love Music, Here Are 17 Books To Add To Your Reading List

    From memoirs to coffee-table books to how music affects your brain, recommendations from BuzzFeed editors!

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    1. Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman

    Dey Street Books / Via

    This book is a hefty 640 pages, and tbh, I could've easily read another 640 more. An oral history of the decade post-9/11 when the New York City rock scene was rejuvenated largely thanks to the influence of The Strokes ushering in a new kind of sound, it features interviews with all the major players of the era, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, The White Stripes, The Killers, TV on the Radio, Regina Spektor, and of course, The Strokes themselves, who feature heavily in the tome.

    It follows the rise of some of the biggest names in music, along with the drama and fallouts that accompanied, as told by the artists themselves. Iconic bars and venues are name-dropped, and it chronicles the birth of the Williamsburg music scene as well; this will make any rock 'n' roll fan who came of age or lived in New York in the aughts — or those who simply loved and followed the musicians who did — feel all sorts of warm and cozy nostalgic feelings. Misshapes dance party, anyone? —Emmy Favilla

    Get it from Amazon for $12.99+, Barnes & Noble for $12.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    2. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

    Grand Central Publishing / Via

    This is a memoir about a punk-rock star, a lover of the strange, a deep friendship, loss, and so much more. Amanda Palmer shares her journey to find meaning in her art by connecting with strangers who wind up friends for life. She expands on a TED Talk she gave in 2013 in which she describes what it was like to be an 8-foot-tall street-performing bride — trading art for money in the pouring rain just to make rent and a new punk album. She takes us on a journey through her rise to fame and her path to motherhood. For someone who has spent a majority of their life on some form of a stage, this book does not feel performed — it's raw, it's beautiful, and it was the best gift I've ever received. —Jennifer Tonti

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $6.98+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    3. Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small by Laura Ballance,‎ John Cook, and‎ Mac McCaughan

    Algonquin Books / Via

    I was fortunate to attend college in the midst of a ~thriving~ indie music scene in The Triangle of North Carolina, and Merge Records was an overpowering (in a good way!) presence. This oral history released as part of the label’s 20th anniversary in 2009 helped me better understand and appreciate the scene while I lived there and has given me a better appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes in the indie music industry ’til this day. If reading about the minutiae of both the creative process and business floats your boat, you’ll dig this.

    Firsthand accounts from founders Mac and Laura, along with bands that at one time were or still are on the label — including Superchunk (which Mac and Laura are in, fyi), Spoon, Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Magnetic Fields — offer a peeping-tom-ish glimpse. They go there, or at least wherever I think "there" is, without a bunch of debaucherous filler. And yes, this is how I learned that THE Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) played in The Magnetic Fields! —Elizabeth Lilly

    Get it from Amazon for $9.61+, Barnes & Noble for $9.61+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    4. Taylor Swift: This Is Our Song by Tyler Conroy

    Simon & Schuster / Via

    I originally bought this to serve the typical purpose of a coffee-table book — to look cute in my apartment and show off my interesting interests to visitors to my home. But guys, this is a coffee-table book you actually want to READ. It’s essentially a record of everything Taylor Swift, through the 1989 era, put together by a superfan. The book includes interviews, amazing fan art, profiles of other fans, roundups of Tay’s best quotes, and even coloring pages and crossword puzzles. Best of all, it's an anthology of articles written about Taylor throughout her career, from reviews to profiles to a local newspaper article about her singing at a sporting event when she was a kid. There’s so much out there about Taylor that even as a super-Swiftie, I haven’t been able to keep up — but now read all the best writing about my queen in one place!

    My personal favorite part is an essay called “Just Kidding, Love Sucks,” by Tavi Gevinson (who's also a friend of Taylor's), which is basically an incredibly articulate fangirl freakout, breaking down Tavi’s favorite Taylor songs and why they’re significant. Every time I open this book I find something new and amazing, and every time I close it I feel inspired and awed by the power of Taylor Swift and what she means to me and so many others. —Katy Herman

    Get it from Amazon for $11.85+, Barnes & Noble for $14.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    5. Jelly Roll: A Blues by Kevin Young

    Knopf / Via

    I am a huge fan of the poet Kevin Young, as he is a master of one of the hardest parts of poetry: sound. His collection Jelly Roll is worth a read based on form and concept alone, which is what brought me to this book. Calling it a collection of poetry is not exactly accurate; Jelly Roll is a blues, as in the entire collection is mimetic of blues music. Young accomplishes this not just in tone and content — much of the book is about lost love, traveling, and longing — but in form as well. Young uses en dashes, enjambment, and generous amounts of stanza breaks to string you along through the poems. The rhythm of these poems comes through so well, I found myself tapping my foot along to the way the words fall on the page. Some of these poems were whimsical in the way the blues can be, which I enjoyed a lot.

    This collection is pretty long at 190 pages, but due to the form of the poems, it’s a pretty quick read. I didn't feel engaged reading every poem — for me personally, poems about lost love and sex are not that interesting, and there are quite a bit of those — but this book was still well worth the read. Kevin Young successfully translates an entire genre of music into poetry, and the skill of his work shows. My favorite poems in this collection were “The Sleepwalking Psalms,” and I loved this line in particular: “I love you the way a liar loves / lies: because they grace the mouth, / because I know nothing else…” If you enjoy blues and/or poetry, I highly recommend you enter the world of this book. There is nothing else like it. —Francine Hendrickson

    Get it from Amazon for $2+, Barnes & Noble for $18+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    6. Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers

    Dey Street Books / Via

    Veteran music critic Ann Powers’ new book Good Booty explores the erotic tension at the heart of several generations of American popular music, following a thread from early gospel, blues, and jazz through classic rock, punk, rap, house, and diva pop. Powers avoids lurid sensationalism, and focuses on the way listeners find themselves through music and the social rituals of concerts, dance clubs, and fandom. Powers’ focus on sexuality allows for a fresh perspective on both the sensuality and menace of ‘60s hippie culture, and her emphasis on honestly examining the complicated racial dynamics of American music gives her writing about Beyoncé’s more recent work a deeper historical context. —Matthew Perpetua

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $12.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    7. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein

    Riverhead Books / Via

    Whether you've been a fan of Carrie Brownstein since her days in iconic riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney or since her more recent stint as star and co-creator of the supremely hilarious Portlandia (though it's mentioned only once, in the epilogue), you'll enjoy this book the same. Hell, you'll probably enjoy it even if you only know Brownstein from her cameo in Carol and have just a vague familiarity of her work but an interest in '90s indie and punk rock. If you've ever considered yourself someone who never quite fit in, you'll be enthralled as you follow the story of her life in music, often self-deprecating in tone, as well as her accounts of the friendships and connections and heartaches along the way.

    From her turbulent childhood through coming up in the Olympia, Washington, punk rock and riot grrrl scene, the book largely centers on and the formation, rise, and tour life of Sleater-Kinney. It culminates with a glimpse of her return to a relatively quiet life in the mid-aughts when, after Sleater-Kinney disbanded, Brownstein became heavily involved with volunteering at a local Oregon animal shelter. Unsurprisingly, she's a phenomenal, perceptive writer, and this raw and compelling memoir will, indeed, make anyone with a pulse both laugh and cry. —Emmy Favilla

    Get it from Amazon for $11.51+, Barnes & Noble for $12.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    8. The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, and Neil Strauss

    ReganBooks / Via

    If you’re looking for a sordid rock-star memoir, this delivers. Yes, there are lots of misogynous parts that, tbh, I could look past when I read this in 2008 but may be a little harder for me to swallow in 2017. BUT, if you’re super into the Crüe, you should read it. (After all, they put on an *amazing* live show.)

    Out of the thick tome packed full of NSFW antics, the ones that stick with me are the band collecting panties of women they slept with on the road and making their crew bring them everywhere in a tractor trailer, Ozzy snorting a line of ants while they toured together, and Nikki Sixx changing the title from *with* to “Shout at the Devil” after spooky things started happening in the fleabag apartment he lived in before the band hit it big. If you need something else to pass the time before the Netflix adaptation happens, Nikki Sixx just released a 10th-anniversary edition of The Heroin Diaries. (If you didn’t already guess, his overdose is why he wrote “Kickstart My Heart,” and this book about his addiction will make you feel every emotion ever.) —Elizabeth Lilly

    Get it from Amazon for $11.59+, Barnes & Noble for $13.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    9. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McGain

    Grove Press / Via

    This is a trashy but lovable oral history about the dawn of punk, told by the artists, junkies, hangers-on, and rock 'n' roll legends that birthed it. It's an invaluable time capsule of a music scene that pushed the limits of rock music's debaucherous lifestyle to the literal extreme — and the long-lost downtown New York of the late 1970s where it lived. —Dorsey Shaw

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $10.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    10. This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin

    Plume/Penguin / Via

    I’m not one to read books on science (insert every incorrect assumption about writers here), but a split-second decision to snap this up at Barnes & Noble years ago was a demonstrably smart one on my part. I regularly spend a chunk of my income on going to shows — often to the point where I’ll justify buying expensive tickets to see a band over other things, like, say, buying a non-squeaky mattress. This book explains *why* music becomes such an important part of our lives and, therefore, why we do things like spend an entire paycheck to see Beyoncé. (Worth it.) Or at least this book helps me justify such behavior.

    The neuroscientist who wrote it also explains why the stuff you’d rather listen to on Spotify private in 2017 (for me, the least embarrassing being the likes of “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” and the Queen of the Damned soundtrack) get in your brain and stay there. Yes, we are talking about earworms, folks! Music is so closely tied to the identity of being “cool,” and this book will make you rethink artists and albums you’d rather not let the world know you love. —Elizabeth Lilly

    Get it from Amazon for $1.99+, Barnes & Noble for $13.60+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    11. Just Kids by Patti Smith

    Ecco / Via

    The first time someone recommended Patti Smith’s Just Kids, I nodded and figured I’d get to it at some point. TBH I had no idea who Patti Smith was or why her book would move me. But after it was recommended to me by every avid reader, book critic, literature professor, and passerby, I figured I should probably buckle down and read it. I went into the book not knowing anything about Patti Smith the artist; I had no idea her musical catalogue extended through generations, that her songs fueled the soundtracks of so many people’s lives. All I knew was that this was a book I needed to read.

    Honestly, it’s such a beautifully written glimpse into her life, relationships, and inspirations. It’s a time capsule of the legendary music scenes of the '60s and '70s. It’s filled with the insight of a woman who is complicated, honest, and a creative genius. It’s just so damn good! If you’re into music, her music, not into music, just like to read, don’t like to read — whoever you are, you should read this book! —Elena Garcia

    Get it from Amazon for $10.75+, Barnes & Noble for $10.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    12. Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman

    Hachette Books / Via

    Scar Tissue is the very honest and open autobiography of Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis, and it focuses largely on his relationship with drugs. It chronicles his first experience taking drugs with his father at age 11, as well as his ongoing addiction during RHCP’s rise to fame. It’s so beautifully written that you don’t even need to be a fan of his music to be instantly hooked. You’ll read it from start to finish without closing the book once. —AnaMaria Glavan

    Get it from Amazon for $9.39+, Barnes & Noble for $11.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    13. Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict by Alice Cooper

    Crown Archetype / Via

    Full disclosure: I bought this for a Father’s Day gift and my dad wasn’t interested in interrupting his steady stream of Westerns and mysteries to read it. So I took it and read it myself. The closest interest I have to golf is drinking an occasional Arnold Palmer, so I skimmed over the parts about that. For the uninitiated, golf is so intertwined with Alice’s memoir because it’s his new vice since giving up drugs and alcohol. He golfs every day — even on tour! — which I most definitely respect. He also reconciles his ~original~ shocking stage presence with his Christian faith, which is something that some folks just don’t *get*. It’s a short but satisfying read about a total legend that’ll make you appreciate that last-day-of-school anthem even more. —Elizabeth Lilly

    Get it from Amazon for $7.99+, Barnes & Noble for $7.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    14. Music: What Happened? by Scott Miller

    125 Records / Via

    Scott Miller was best known as the songwriter for the obscure but well-regarded bands Game Theory and The Loud Family, but he was also an immensely gifted music critic. The contents of Music: What Happened? originally appeared on Miller’s website as liner notes for year-by-year mixes of his favorite songs that came out in each year of his life.

    Miller’s prose is sharp and clever, but the most fascinating thing about his criticism is that it came from the perspective of an accomplished musician with an obsessive focus on craft. This results in fresh takes on familiar artists, admiring praise for contemporaries like R.E.M., who managed to connect with a large audience in ways that eluded him, and philosophical epiphanies on the relative merits of novelty and originality in music. —Matthew Perpetua

    Get it from Amazon for $3.82+, Barnes & Noble for $14.21+ or a local bookseller through Indiebound here.

    15. Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the '90s by Marc Spitz

    Da Capo Press

    I *get* wanting to live like your heroes. My dream was to be a full-time rock ’n’ roll journalist (even before I watched Almost Famous, thank you), and I made reading rock-star memoirs an extracurricular for myself during college. So when I read an excerpt from this book back in 2013, it spoke to me — and I had to buy it ASAP. Author Marc Spitz also wanted to be a music writer and tried to live like all his heroes in order to achieve his dream. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t always work out as well as it (arguably) does for some actual rock stars. This memoir reveals Spitz’s self-destructive behavior and feature soooo many pop-culture encounters — Trent Reznor and Allen Ginsberg, to name a few — that it’ll make your head spin. It gets pretty druggy and delivers on the sordid stuff you (meaning, I) normally want in rock memoirs, but also manages to be sweet. —Elizabeth Lilly

    Get it from Amazon for $4.38+, Barnes & Noble for $9.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    16. The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock by Dave Weigel

    W. W. Norton & Company / Via

    Full disclosure: I have not read this book, and I also have notoriously terrible taste in music. HOWEVER, my mother bought this book for my boyfriend, whose life's work is music. It was a huge hit! The author, Dave Weigel, is a writer for the Washington Post and an unapologetic fan of prog rock (which, for the musically ignorant like me, includes Genesis, Rush, and more fictionally, Spinal Tap). Here's what the experts have to say:

    "Dave Weigel shows a commendably geeky respect for the myriad crooks and crannies in the story of a genre all about crooks, crannies and commendable geeks. Whether your knowledge of prog begins and ends with Pink Floyd, or your record collection is dotted with mid-career Porcupine Tree LP, this book has something for you. Plus, have you seen that cover?!" —My boyfriend

    "I heard about it on NPR!" —My mother

    There you have it! —Jessie Gaynor

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99+, Barnes & Noble for $10.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

    17. Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad

    Back Bay Books / Via

    You know that saying about how you may not necessarily remember the things a person said but you'll always remember how they made you feel? The same can be said for me and this book, which I honestly read so long ago that I've lost any recollection of the details. I picked it up shortly after it was published in 2002, when I was taking an urban studies class at NYU, and it (coupled with my own experience frequenting shows by New York hardcore bands as an unruly teen) inspired and provided lots of historical context for my final project on the underground music scene in New York.

    As the title suggests, it's a comprehensive account of the burgeoning DIY underground scene in the US in the '80s and early '90s, when zines and independent radio stations ruled supreme and plenty of music being made was a direct response to an atmosphere fraught with political tension under the Reagan administration. Each chapter profiles an influential band of the era, from Fugazi to Minor Threat to Sonic Youth, and even if you're not a fan of all of them, it's interesting to learn how they all connect and how they collectively defined this particular musical revolution in the 1980s. —Emmy Favilla

    Get it from Amazon for $7.98+, Barnes & Noble for $11.99+, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.

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