Author: Zoey Knox
Recommended Reading: Books About Music to Fit Every One of Your Summer Moods
If you’re entering a late rebellious stage
Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
You may already feel like you know Carrie Brownstein from a little award-winning TV show called Portlandia, and you may not know that her history as an artist is nearly as long as the history of the feminist punk-rock movement in the Pacific Northwest. In Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, Brownstein traces her path from a teen growing up in Washington state to one of the leading figures of the Riot Grrrl movement, to the cultural icon she is today.
If you’re looking to brush up on your hip hop history
Mo’ Meta Bluesby Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
In Mo’ Meta Blues, Questlove does it all. He shares stories of his musical upbringing in Philadelphia, tales about early iterations of The Roots, and a view of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that most of us will never get to see. From a terrifying encounter with KISS as a child to getting invited to Prince’s roller-skating party, Questlove has had enough celebrity encounters to keep any reader entertained. Keep an eye out for his year-by-year playlists in the early chapters.
If your summer attention span is shorter than a fruitfly’s
M Train by Patti Smith
Patti Smith doesn’t just let you walk in her shoes, she opens up her brain and lets you take a look inside. She writes in the way people talk, moving from one topic to another seamlessly with little regard for subject matter or chronology. It’s a nostalgic, wandering reflection on Smith’s life and work, with many breaks to speak on the act of writing… and coffee.
If you’re missing academia already
A Change Is Gonna Come by Craig Werner
Truth be told, this book reads like a very accessible textbook. In fact, it is the textbook for AFROAMER 156, and was written by a former UW professor who created it for the class. Don’t let the academic tone deter you, because A Change is Gonna Come is certainly worth a read, if only to flex your new music history knowledge on your friends in September. For the less motivated among us, I might recommend using the index to skip around to the genres or eras that interest you the most.
If you’ve already read all of the good articles from your favorite music magazine
The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper
Jessica Hopper has written for publications such as Chicago Magazine, SPIN, and BuzzFeed, and collected her best work for this aptly-titled collection. She writes with the air of a great reporter and a great music fan, and the personal touches in her essays are so relatable it’s almost painful. It is rare to find a well-established author who can write eloquently about the experience of being young, and Hopper does it flawlessly.
If you’re dreading the family trip “up north”
From The Top: Brief Transmissions From “‘Tent Show Radio’” by Michael Perry
From The Top is a collection of monologues Michael Perry gave over a three year period at shows performed under the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua tent. The monologues were broadcast on Tent Show Radio by stations across Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Public Radio. Perry waxes poetic on everything from logging injuries and decaf coffee to concerts and Crocs (but never by name).
If watching the news is bumming you out
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Usby Hanif Abdurraqib
Hanif Abdurraqib is equal parts poet, ethnomusicologist, and cultural critic. He writes eloquently about the intersection of identity and music fandom in America today, and touches on issues of social justice in a way that is welcoming and non-exclusive. The collection is sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, and absolutely necessary.