Let these fiction, nonfiction, and YA books about music become a soundtrack for your reading!
Biographies of iconic musician and influential groups. True stories of how music changed the world. Coming-0f-age stories with musical protagonists. Fictional legends of rock, and a heavy metal horror story. We’ve gathered an eclectic bunch of books about music for every type of reader, from the casual listener to the dedicated fan. Read one while playing your favorite tunes, and then discuss them afterward with your group!
by Sarah Smarsh
Dolly Parton’s songs for decades have validated women who go unheard, and her broader career offers a springboard to examining gender, class, and culture. Infused with Smarsh’s trademark insight, intelligence, and humanity, She Come By It Natural is a sympathetic tribute to the icon and—call it whatever you like—the organic feminism she embodies.
by Hanif Abdurraqib
The seminal rap group brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces. Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib digs into the group’s history and draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.
by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls “musical misalignments”: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist, an entire group of children who are hypermusical from birth, and more. Illuminating, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable.
by Craig Brown
The fab four continue to occupy an utterly unique place in popular culture. Their influence extends far beyond music and into realms as diverse as fashion and fine art, sexual politics and religion. This wide-ranging portrait of the four lads from Liverpool rivals the unique spectacle of the band itself by delving into a vast catalog of heretofore unexamined lore.
by M.T. Anderson
A brilliant and riveting account of the Siege of Leningrad and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony. This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives.
by Michelle Kadarusman
Shipped halfway around the world to spend the summer with her mom’s eccentric Australian relatives, middle-schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is prepared to be resentful. But life at the family’s remote camp in the rainforest is intriguing, and she begins to suspect the key to saving the last Tasmanian tiger is her very own music.
by Cynthia Salaysay
After Claire Alalay’s father’s death, only music has helped her channel her grief. She likes herself best when she plays his old piano. When Claire auditions for Paul Avon, a prominent piano teacher, she soon loses herself in Paul’s world. Cynthia Salaysay composes a moving, beautifully written portrait of perfectionism, sexual awakening, and self-acceptance.
by Grady Hendrix
In this hard-rocking, spine-tingling supernatural thriller, the washed-up guitarist of a ’90s heavy metal band embarks on an epic road trip across America and deep into the web of a sinister conspiracy. Her journey will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a celebrity rehab center to a satanic music festival, a furious power ballad about never giving up.
by Mary Sharratt
Young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?
By David Hajdu
A poignant and hilarious oral history of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon. Adrianne Geffel was a genius, a one-of-a-kind artist, a pianist and composer. Despite her renown, Geffel vanished from public life, and her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. David Hajdu tells, for the first time, the full story of her life and work in this slyly entertaining work of fiction.