17 Best Books About Music Update 05/2022

Trying to find presents for music fans that appreciate the work of musicians? Aficionados of rock and literature alike will be delighted by this collection of books by some of the world’s finest artists

This Is Your Brain on Music

By Daniel J. Levitin

Daniel J. Levitin, a rocker-turned-neuroscientist, analyzes the relationship between music and the human brain in this ground-breaking work of art and science.

Absolutely on Music

By Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa

Seiji Ozawa, the legendary conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, sits down with Haruki Murakami for a series of chats about their mutual love of music. On and on they go for two years, discussing everything from Brahms to Beethoven and Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould and Bartok to Mahler, among other things. Absolutely on Music is a rare insight inside the thoughts of two masters, a profound contemplation on the underlying essence of music and literature.

Major Labels

By Kelefa Sanneh

An epic achievement and a huge delight, the entire history of popular music over the past fifty years refracted through the big genres that have defined and dominated it: rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance music, and pop. When it comes to popular music, there are two camps: those who enjoy it and those who don’t.

The Beautiful Ones

By Prince

One of the greatest artists in history, in his own words—featuring never-before-seen images, original scrapbooks, and lyric sheets, and the gorgeous memoir he started writing before his sad death. Rather than a homage to an idol, this book is itself an unique and invigorating literary work, full of Prince’s thoughts and visions—his eternal gift to the world.

How Music Works

By David Byrne

It is David Byrne’s insightful and impassioned examination of the musical art form, from its origins to the factors that affect it, in his book How Music Works (How Music Works). Throughout Byrne’s magnum work, we learn more and more about the redeeming liberty that music provides for all of us.

Songwriting Without Boundaries

By Pat Pattison

It takes time and effort to write amazing song lyrics. Fun writing tasks in Songwriting Without Boundaries will motivate you to make regular practice a priority. Over 150 sense-based prompts are included in this special collection to help you hone your writing abilities and learn how to use your senses effectively.

Contact High

By Vikki Tobak

Along with interviews and reflections from industry giants, Contact High features rare outtakes from over 100 photoshoots, taking readers on a historical trip through old-school hip-hop, alternative hip-hop, and the transition from analog to digital photography. In honor of the artists that sculpted the famous album covers, t-shirts, and posters cherished by hip-hop fans today, here is the official chronicle of the early days of hip-history. hop’s


By Jay-Z

There is no other book like Decoded: a compilation of songs and their meanings that convey the tale of a culture, an art form, a period in history, and one of the most controversial and successful musicians of our time. Together, they tell the story.

How to Read Music

By Roger Evans

A beginner’s guide to learning to read musical notation for singers and instrumentalists alike. Notes are called and written; how to read melody, interpret time signatures, keys, sharps, flats and naturals; how to read tempo; how to play chords are explained in this book.

The Music Lesson

By Victor L. Wooten

For more than three decades as an influential musician, Victor Wooten has shared his thoughts on music and life in a moving narrative based on his own personal experiences and observations.


by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks investigates the relationship between music and the human condition by examining what he calls “musical misalignments,” a concept he first introduced in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. The result is enlightening, motivating, and memorable.

How to Write One Song

By Jeff Tweedy

Writing a song is one of the most enigmatic and entrancing forms of artistic expression there is. But what if the objective wasn’t so enigmatic after all, and could be attained by anybody desiring to live a life richer in wonder and imagination? After reading Jeff Tweedy’s How to Write One Song, anybody will be encouraged to do it.

Beastie Boys Book

By Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz

ADROCK and Mike D, together with Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and many others, have put together a book that covers the tale of the Beastie Boys from start to finish.

The Piano Lesson

By August Wilson

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Fences, two of August Wilson’s best-known works, both depict the black experience in the United States in the 20th century. It is Wilson’s second Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, The Piano Lesson, about family and the legacy of slavery in America that is probably his most haunting and tragic.

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

By Hanif Abdurraqib

The MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant” has been granted to a number of artists and authors throughout the decades since its inception. However, Hanif Abdurraqib, a poet, critic, and journalist, is only one of a handful of music writers to be included in this year’s class. His breakout book, A Little Devil in America, consists of essays “in praise of Black performance” from the arts to sports, and Abdurraqib uses it to tie together the hallmarks of his near-decade of brilliant writing: language that evokes possibility, memoir that is both vulnerable and instructive, cultural analysis that deftly rejects linear historicizing, and unlikely connections to tilt the reader’s understanding of the world. A Little Devil is replete with critique at its most enriching and meticulous level, whether Abdurraqib is writing about big personalities like Josephine Baker or should-be-major characters like Merry Clayton. Rawiya Kameir is the author

Begin by Telling

By Meg Remy

Founder Meg Remy’s slim, heartbreaking memoir begins with a picture of her as a child. On top of Remy, “everything I thought was squishable turns out to be flat and staticky.” This pattern of disappointment continues throughout her life. Begin by Telling serves as a frightening complement to her sometimes nasty music, which gets little explicit emphasis but is reflected in the book’s darkly comedic overtones because of her fixation with bleeding spectacles both inside and outside the home.

With a voice that is both heady and forthright, as doubtful of literary authority as she is of other forms of power, the 36-year-old American expat currently living in Canada recounts different teenage breakups—from her family, American heritage and bloodlust to her own body and senses. It is a voice that generates humorous, righteous text that sprawls like a dive-bar soliloquy, and she is amusing enough to lure you in close for the sucker blow. Before returning to the holy topic of women’s intuition, she explores sociological marginalia and feminist theory in a form of feminist mysticism. She needs to get through her trauma, but she’s unsure about how or why to do so with others. To some extent, Remy’s jumble of news clips, accounts of horrifying abuse and cultural outings helps her address these weighty concerns. But she revels in the process, satisfying a secondary urge to take on the larger problem of male privilege. The great jazz musician, Jazz Monroe

Crying in H Mart

By Michelle Zauner

Music memoir disguised as literary mukbang is Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner’s first book, Crying in H Mart. For those who are unfamiliar with Zauner’s upbringing in Oregon and her climb to indie rock success, her writings are rife with tantalizing descriptions of Korean cuisine that leave readers salivating. Zauner’s culinary portraits are motivated by the concept that food is both a love language and a tie that she inherited from her Korean ancestors. Her mother died from cancer in 2014. This tie becomes increasingly fragile at this point. After that, she goes on an emotional journey to rediscover her mother’s recipes and use them as fuel for her musical aspirations by learning to prepare them. Crying at H Mart tells the story of an artist who fought against the voices that told her she couldn’t succeed, and found self-actualization via the lifetime endeavor of grieving. The author’s own words

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