6 Summer Reading Books for Music Lovers

It is officially August, which means that summer is quickly coming to an end. And while this may feel like a bit of a beach bummer, it makes us appreciate what we have left of the summer all the more. Plus, August is its own month to celebrate. Jerry Garcia’s birthday is on the first day of August, Swifties everywhere blast folklore’s “August,” and the MTV Awards announce the song of the summer.

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Perhaps what we are most excited about is summer reading. This isn’t the summer reading that you wrote book reports for in middle school, though. Instead, this reading includes books by and about rockstar Patti Smith and folk genius Art Garfunkel, escapades about groupies, and shared secrets from some of our favorite artists. This August, we are recommending some of our favorite books for you, the music lover.

1. Just Kids by Patti Smith

What happens when a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician meets an iconic photographer? A really, really miraculous book. Rockstar Patti Smith is capable of anything, and her New York Times Bestseller, Just Kids, proves that. The book is an elegy about the fantastic photographer and artist, Robert Mapplethorpe. A complex love story between two striving artists, the two meet in their teens in 1960s New York City. Through Smith, we learn what it’s like to be a starving artist in the city, and how to get back on your feet when you’ve lost everything. This poetic memoir recognizes the ups and downs of love, loss, and art, and explores how the two famed artists survived when they had nothing but each other and their work. Just Kids received the National Book Award in 2010. It is an unforgettable memoir that you won’t regret.  

2. Broken Horses: A Memoir by Brandi Carlile

Six-time Grammy award winner Brandi Carlile takes us on her emotional journey in discovering herself, her faith, and her sexuality. The artist grew up in Seattle, constantly moving to and from different trailer parks as a child. Once her pastor discovered that she was openly gay in high school, he refused to baptize her. Carlile’s story is deeply personal as she grapples with her faith and sexuality. It is relatable to anyone who has a similar story and is enduring similar experiences. Through her novel, we explore a lens of the country musician which we’ve never seen before. She is brutally honest as she trusts the world with this intimate side of her, and is so openly vulnerable with her readers. Broken Horses is a raw, lyrical artwork that you won’t read anywhere else. 

3. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast)

You may know Michelle Zauner better by her stage name, Japanese Breakfast, but did you know that she actually went to college for creative writing? That’s right, Japanese Breakfast is in fact a book nerd. Her New York Times Bestselling Book Crying in H Mart is heart aching, yet beautiful as she reflects on her relationship with her mother. When she was 25, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, forcing Zauner to rethink her relationship with her mom as well as her own identity. A mother-daughter memoir, this book serves as a tribute to Zauner’s mom, and to all relationships between a daughter and her mother. Crying in H Mart is relatable and intimate, and is one of Zauner’s best pieces of work yet. 

4. Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons by Dodie Clark

Dorothy Miranda Clark, better known as her stage name Dodie, is an English singer-songwriter who got her start on Youtube. She quickly became an influential musician and woman for young girls to look up to, especially those questioning their sexuality. She published her book in 2017, and as her intro reads, “This is for the people with minds that just won’t stop.” The British vlogger’s book contains song lyrics, personal stories, lessons, and photos. You will quickly learn from her words that she is a deep empath and that she is immediately relatable and unattainably kind. Secrets for the Mad is warm and relieving, reassuring us that we are not alone in our hardships.

5. I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres

Real-life Penny Lane from Almost Famous does exist, and her name is Pamela Des Barres. Quite possibly the most famous groupie of the ‘70s, Barres’s book I’m With the Band reflects on her time traveling with different bands, having affairs with many members, and experimenting with varieties of drugs. The mantra “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” could not be more true for Barres’ novel. She tells of traveling with Led Zeppelin, rejecting a date from Elvis Presley, and becoming close friends with Frank Zappa. Between learning the ins of the bands, the kiss-and-tells of the ‘70s, and Barres’ thrilling love affairs, this is the perfect book for the music lover. 

6. What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man by Art Garfunkel

Ever wonder how the most renowned folk duo of the 20th century met? Well, now you can find out in Garfunkel’s own words. This lyrical book includes poetry and prose, original handwritten notes, and both stories of how the group came to be and how they parted. Garfunkel talks about what it was like to grow up in the prime of rock & roll as a young Jewish boy in Queens, New York. He’s not afraid to unpack his life, and more specifically his time with Paul Simon. The undeniably talented musician is highly skilled in writing, too. This touching book is a masterpiece on its own and gives us all the more reason to appreciate his music. 

Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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