10 Best Books About Musicians Update 05/2022

So, before we go any further, I want to be completely honest with you about what I think. I used to be part of a band. As a child, I used to be in a band. Now that I’ve given up my guitar and my musician boyfriends, I still find them interesting. A lot of books about musicians show that I’m not the only one who is interested in them. Start by reading these ten must-reads. I’ve broken them down into nonfiction and fiction so you can quickly find your new favorite book.

Nonfiction Books About Musicians

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

Prince, of course, doesn’t need an introduction. He’s going to get one anyway, though. Prince was an American singer-songwriter who played a lot of different instruments and was known as a great guitar player. When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, and Kiss are just a few of the songs he has written. The title of these songs made you start singing. Because I did that. In this video, Prince tells us about his life, from when he was a child to when he became a superstar. This memoir was published after the author died. Dan Piepenbring, the editor, wrote a heartfelt introduction.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

In high school, Kim Gordon was the person I looked up to the most in a band. By the end of this book, even though you don’t know who she is, she’ll be your hero, too. Kim Gordon is a founding member of Sonic Youth and Free Kitten, and she’s a feminist hero and a great singer. During the 1980s and 1990s she played alternative rock in a band. Kim Gordon also talks about these experiences in the book “Girl in a Band.” She also talks about what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field like music. Gordon’s memoir is a personal story that also feels like a powerful feminist statement at the same time.

Acid for the Children by Flea

It’s likely that Flea is best known for being the bassist and one of the first members of the alternative rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers. This memoir is a look at the musician’s life in a very different way than other books. Instead of focusing on his later years, Flea talks about how he felt when he was a child. This is what Flea talks about in his book. He talks about how he grew up in Australia, moved to the United States, and met Anthony Kiedis, who would become his bandmate in The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Against Nature (À Rebours) by Joris-Karl Huysmans

Jay-Z: Made in America by Michael Eric Dyson

I have never read a music biography like this one. Jay-Z is an American rapper, songwriter, record exec, entrepreneur, and producer who lives in New York City. Mr. Beyonce is also his real name, so that’s true, too. This book is about Jay-life, Z’s from begging to rapping to executive boardrooms. It tells his story. It’s also the story of the United States. In this book, author Michael Eric Dyson talks about Jay-Z as a poet and an activist, as well as all of his other achievements and skills. As well, Dyson looks at how Jay-career Z’s and art were shaped by the economic, racial, and social injustices in the United States of America.

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

On the other hand, this last book isn’t a biography or autobiography about a single musician. It’s more general. From Bruce Springsteen to Carly Rae Jepsen to Chance the Rapper, Abdurraqib talks about popular music in his essays. He compares the work of these artists to his own life experiences. These essays talk about things like being a Muslim in the United States, growing up Black in the 1990s, death and grief, and a whole lot more, too.

Fiction Books About Musicians

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

Short stories by Kazuo Ishiguro are in this collection, and music itself is a character in some of them. In this book, there are five stories about music and musicians that are all linked together: a singer who is past his prime and wants to make a comeback, an older cellist who meets an older woman and claims to be a great cellist, and a jazz musician who has plastic surgery to help his career. He writes about people who love music in every single one of his stories.

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

White Tears is a book about blues music and two young musicians who love blues. During a walk in the park, one of them happens to record another person singing. They decide to post the recording online, saying that it is the long-lost recording of a 1920s blues musician called Charlie Shaw. Until then, they didn’t know if their recording was real. The two musicians now find themselves in the middle of a real ghost story and murder mystery. Kunzru’s book is a scary story that looks at the history of music and racism in the United States.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

It’s based on a true story. Ann Patchett wrote Bel Canto. Many Peruvians were held hostage at the Japanese ambassador’s house in 1996. Patchett retells that story in a country that hasn’t been named in South America. A world-famous soprano has been asked to sing at the birthday party of a Japanese industrial giant who is visiting from home. But as soon as she starts her show, a group of 18 terrorists break into the mansion and take all of the guests hostage. When they are held hostage for a long time, the hostages come from all over the world and have had very different lives. As their days in this situation go on for weeks and months, they all find comfort in music.

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

In order to become famous, how far would you have to go? Would you give up your soul? Your band mates’ souls are important to you. In Grady Hendrix’s book, We Sold Our Souls, that’s what happens. In the 1990s, the heavy metal band Dürt Würk was on a path to fame. Then, out of nowhere, their lead singer decided to go out on his own. When Kris Pulaski was younger, she was a professional guitarist. Now, she works as a night manager at a Best Western and wonders why her life went wrong. Former Dürt Würk lead singer Terry Hunt made a deal with the devil to become a rock star at the expense of his bandmates. He did this so that he could be a rock star, too! To get back at the man who ruined their lives and get their souls back, Kris has to get back together with her old bandmates and fight.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

For the last book in this list of books about musicians, let’s go back to the beginning. They were in the Kingdom of Back, which is where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister Nannerl lived when they were young. As a composer, Nannerl wants everyone to know about her. But in Europe in the 1800s, no one was interested in a female composer. Wolfgang, Nannerl’s brother, is very talented, and people are starting to notice. This makes things even worse. Before you know it, Nannerl thinks that her chances of becoming an important musician are going down. Then something weird happens. A mysterious stranger from a magical land comes to her, and he has a deal that she can’t refuse. It’s possible for him to give her the fame and recognition as a musician that she’s always dreamed of. That’s a good question.

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