From the swelling orchestra of a book-to-movie adaptation, to catchy Broadway rhymes inspired by a historical biography, reading and music go hand in hand. Here are some of the best music books to add to an enthusiast’s reading list.
My Own Devices: Essays From the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love by Dessa
Fans of hip-hop and rap who haven’t yet heard of Dessa can get started with her memoir, written as a series of essays covering life on the road, building (and breaking) relationships, and her scientific curiosity. It’s a whip smart read as witty and lyrical as her music performances and songs.
Jazz by Toni Morrison
Though the late, great Morrison has left this earth, the power of her work persists. In this novel about music, a traveling salesman shoots his teenage paramour and kills her. Jazz tells the stories of the lives of black American citizens at a time when the popular music genre raged across the country.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
In the first of the Monsters of Verity series, protagonists Kate Harker and August Flynn stand on opposing sides of a city getting overrun by literal monsters created from the violence that has run rampant. August is one of those monsters, with the ability to steal souls by playing a specific line of music. It’s a dark and riveting tale that uses song in a never-before-seen way.
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib
What better way to read about music than through poetry? In this collection of poems, Abdurraqib discusses his memories of finding refuge in music and at shows as a Muslim teenager. The collection also includes essays that were originally published in the New York Times and MTV.
On Broadway: From Rent to Revolution by Drew Hodges, David Sedaris, and Chip Kidd
If you really want a collection of books for music lovers, then you absolutely need this magnificent collection of photos, posters, and concept art visuals for the history of Broadway. In this book you’ll find out how a show is brought to the stage, along with personal anecdotes from the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Leguizamo, Bernadette Peters, and more.
Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles
Get into the mind of a Grammy-award nominated artist with this charming memoir from singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. This collection of essays reveals the artist’s songwriting process, as well as the joys and struggles of creating and staying true to one’s self while working in an industry that doesn’t always allow for such luxury.
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