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Books About Music Every Music Lover Should Read

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  • February 29, 2024
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  • 7 min read

Books

Music is not merely a form of entertainment or a medium for expressing emotions; it’s a vast universe filled with stories, theories, and the lives of those who contributed to the evolution of what we hear today.

Whether you’re a musician, an avid listener, or someone who appreciates the art, delving into books about music can deepen your understanding and love for it.

Here, the Book Writing Founders have compiled a list of books every music lover should read.

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

Want to know what happens in your brain when you listen to music? Daniel J. Levitin combines his neuroscientist and former record producer background to explain the science behind music and its effect on the human brain.

This book is a fascinating read that makes complex scientific concepts accessible and engaging. Whether it’s about how music can alter our mood or why we have those addictive loops of melody stuck in our heads, Levitin has it covered in an insightful and relatable way.

2. “How Music Works” by David Byrne

In “How Music Works,” David Byrne, the iconic lead singer of the Talking Heads, starts his book writing journey and offers a personal and historical exploration of the art and industry of music. This book is part memoir, part guide, illustrating how music shapes us and how we shape music in return.

Byrne gets into the intricacies of music—from its creation to its consumption—and its impact on society and culture. It’s a must-read for anyone curious about the mechanics and the magic behind the music.

3. “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century” by Alex Ross

Music history enthusiasts will devour Alex Ross’s “The Rest Is Noise,” a riveting narrative of twentieth-century classical music. Ross covers a vast landscape, from Vienna before the First World War to the Paris of the 1920s and beyond.

He shares stories of legendary composers such as Strauss, Schönberg, and Britten. This book is an engaging tour of the landmarks of modern music. It is filled with fascinating anecdotes and insights.

4. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith

“Just Kids” isn’t a book solely about music; it’s a memoir by Patti Smith that beautifully captures her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City during the late sixties and seventies.

The poetic prose and the raw honesty with which Smith recounts her journey from a dreamer to a rock and roll icon provide a deep, personal look into the life of an artist.

 

5. “Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time” by Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield’s memoir is a heartfelt tribute to music, love, and loss, structured around a series of mixtapes. Sheffield tells the story of his relationship with his late wife through these mixtapes.

He also talks about how music both bonded them and helped him cope with her untimely death. It’s a moving, deeply personal narrative that illustrates the power of music to connect, heal, and transform us.

 

6. “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—And the Journey of a Generation” by Sheila Weller

“Girls Like Us” is a group of professional biography writing that tells the story of three of the most influential female musicians of the late twentieth century: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon.

Sheila Weller interweaves the lives and careers of these three women against the backdrop of the 1960s and 1970s. The book sheds light on their musical contributions and the societal impact they had as pioneering women in the industry.

7. “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” novel explores love, heartbreak, and the solace found in music. Following the life of Rob, a record store owner and music fanatic who revisits his “top five” breakups, the book is witty, relatable, and infused with musical references that will resonate with any music lover. Hornby captures the essence of how music shapes our identities and relationships.

 

 

8. “Decoded” by Jay-Z

In “Decoded,” Jay-Z offers an intimate glimpse into his life and the evolution of his music. Part autobiography, part lyric analysis, this book deconstructs some of Jay-Z’s most famous songs. It provides insights into his creative process and the stories behind his words.

It’s a captivating read that bridges the gap between music and poetry, revealing the depth and thoughtfulness of hip-hop lyrics.

9. “Songwriters On Songwriting” by Paul Zollo

Paul Zollo’s “Songwriters on Songwriting” is a treasure chest of wisdom for anyone fascinated by writing songs. In this book, Zollo has compiled interviews with some of the greatest songwriters of our time, including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Carole King.

These interviews offer a rare look into the minds of legendary musicians. It reveals their thoughts on the art of songwriting, their creative processes, and the stories behind some of the world’s most loved songs.

10. “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment” by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein

While “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment” might not explicitly be about music, this fascinating book by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein explores the concept of noise in decision-making.

The authors define noise as the unwanted variances in judgments that affect everything from finance to medicine and beyond. For music enthusiasts, understanding the concept of noise can provide a unique perspective on the unpredictability and subjectivity of musical tastes, performances, and production.

It encourages readers to consider how ‘noise’ broadly affects our perception and enjoyment of music.

11. “The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music” by Victor L. Wooten

Victor L. Wooten’s “The Music Lesson” is a beautifully written parable about the deeper aspects of music beyond the notes and techniques. Through a fictional story, Wooten, an acclaimed bassist, shares his insights on the elements that make music truly soulful and transformative, such as rhythm, tone, dynamics, and silence.

This book discusses the spiritual journey of understanding music and its profound impact on life and personal growth. It’s an inspiring read for anyone looking for a deeper connection with music, offering applicable lessons on and off the stage.

12. “Life” by Keith Richards

In “Life”, Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones’s legendary guitarist, chronicles his rock and roll journey. This autobiography is a compelling record of Richards’ life, from his childhood in England to the formation of the Stones and their incredible journey.

It dives into the personal, the professional, and every thrilling and tumultuous moment. For not only the band’s fans but anyone who appreciates the wild world of rock music and the characters that shaped it, “Life” is a captivating read.

Conclusion:

Each book offers a unique perspective on music, from its technical composition to its emotional and societal impacts. Whether you’re looking to understand more about the science of music, delve into its history, or explore personal stories of love, loss, and everything in between, these reads will enrich your appreciation and knowledge of music in all its forms.

Exploring book writing services could be your next step if such stories inspire you to share your experiences or insights about music. Each title will broaden your perspective and deepen your connection with music, celebrating its diversity and complexity in fresh, enlightening ways.

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