Not a day goes by without hearing music. Whether we’re singing in the shower with our favorite playlist, humming along with the background tunes at the grocery store, or patiently listening to the music playing while we wait on hold. Music is the soundtrack of our lives. Every year in April, the Grammy Awards are held to honor the music industry’s finest singers, songwriters, and musicians. To celebrate musicians and all they do to make life more fun and more enjoyable, our April reading chain is all about folks who make music.
Once you immerse yourself in the lives of these fascinating and talented people, you won’t want to stop. Discover Books has hundreds of books about musicians from every age and genre, from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Led Zeppelin and everyone in between. And who knows? Maybe reading about one of these musicians will lead you to a new musical favorite? Put on your headphones, turn on the radio, and pick up one or more of these great books about musicians. We begin our chain link with Pat Benatar.
Note: The list of musical biographies and memoirs is massive. We had to limit ourselves to only ten for the reading challenge, and we chose to go with modern musicians, but please feel free to search our inventory for your favorite artists and add them to your personal challenge. The more, the merrier!
Pat Benatar, 2011
“Love is a Battlefield,” but so was the world of rock and roll in the 1980s, especially for a woman. Pat Benatar’s memoir sheds light on what it was like to be the first female solo performer on MTV, win four consecutive Grammy awards, and watch her child learn to walk on a tour bus.
She reflects on the sexy image she created, how it felt when that morphed from a focus to the focus, and how that affected her views on feminism. Will you want to break out the heavy black eyeliner once you dive into this memoir? Maybe.
Bob Dylan, 2005
Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his remarkable song lyrics, and you’ll love how his musical voice comes through in this personal memoir. In his book, Dylan reflects mostly on critical moments in his life and career in 1961 New York City, plus a healthy dose of memories from his childhood in Minnesota. His accounts are witty, and his words are poetic, exactly what we expect from him. The pages are peppered with familiar faces, memorable stories, and the author’s singular style.
David Ritz, 2015
Aretha Franklin had a momentous musical career. She performed in multiple genres, including blues, soul, gospel, and jazz, and she even dabbled in a bit of opera. Franklin sang solos at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral and two presidential inaugurations. She won multiple Grammys and numerous other awards, but her life was far from ideal. Her mother left and her father was challenging.
As a teenager, she had two children and made several serious career mistakes that arguably held her back from even greater success. Despite all that, she became the Queen, and this honest look at her life takes nothing away from that.
Elton John, 2019
How did a shy boy from the suburbs of London become the world’s greatest pop star? In this powerful memoir, Elton John tells the story of his meteoric rise to fame in his own words, complete with sliver hot pants and sequins.
This book is warm, honest, and full of stories, familiar people, and drama. Elton John’s path from drug addict to clean, loving husband and father is a tale that will stick with you.
B.B. King and David Ritz, 2011
Blues All Around Me transports you straight to Beale Street in Memphis. Written in B.B King’s voice you’ll feel like you’re having a personal chat with King on a sunny Southern afternoon with the sultry strumming of Lucille, his guitar, in the background. No one sings the blues like B.B. King, but this memoir is far from blue. His life story is inspiring, and his storytelling is unparalleled.
Philip Norman, 2009
Philip Norman is the undisputed expert on everything Beatles, and his book Shout! is considered the gold standard. (You can find that one here at Discover Books as well.) He took his expertise one step further with this mammoth biography of John Lennon. Nothing is off-limits here; Lennon’s childhood, career, marriage, and more are all examined with clarity and honesty. Even if you’re a big fan, you’ll learn something new in this detailed look at Lennon.
Loretta Lynn and George Vecsey, republished 2021
This classic memoir is the basis for the film of the same name and has been loved by readers for decades. Lynn tells the story of her early years growing up in Kentucky. Her poverty was extreme, but her voice was her ticket out.
Loretta was a trailblazer for all the women who came after her, and she remains the most awarded female country artist ever. She’s down-to-earth, witty, and honest. If you didn’t love her before, you certainly will after reading her story.
Dolly Parton, 2020
Dolly Parton tells her life story through the lyrics of 175 of her songs – 175 songs! Songteller is an absolute treasure. It’s filled with photos, memorabilia, stories, and more from the life of this country music legend.
Want to know the story behind “Jolene?” It’s in here. How about “9 to 5” or other favorites? You can read all about it in Dolly’s own words. If you’re a fan of Dolly, you’ll want to grab this book now.
Peter Guralnick, 1995
While much has been written about Elvis, Last Train to Memphis goes far beyond what’s been said before. Peter Guralnick spent a decade researching this book, and his efforts shine through in this compelling, fresh look at the first twenty-four years of Elvis Presley’s life.
You’ll read details about his childhood and his passion for Bing Crosby. You’ll learn how passionate he was about family and what drove him to success. Elvis was a remarkable talent who left an indelible mark on the world of music.
Ronnie Spector and Vince Waldron, 2004
Veronica “Ronnie” Spector was the lead singer for the Ronettes, singers of top favorites such as “Be My Baby” and “The Best Part of Breaking Up.” Their album, “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica No. 422,” is on Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time.
But Ronnie’s story took a difficult turn when her husband locked her up in their Beverly Hills Mansion. Her eventual escape and return to stardom is an unforgettable story. You’ll love the indomitable Ronnie and the exclusive photos, memories, and perspectives found in this wonderful memoir.
Take a Deeper Dive into the World of Music Today
Are you excited about the Grammy Awards? Reading these and other music memoirs will enhance your enjoyment of the music you love. Add these titles to your cart today and jump into the April reading challenge from Discover Books. We love books and music, and we know you do, too.
Missed March’s reading chain challenge? Find it here.
Shop now at Discoverbooks.com and discover something – and someone—new!