Saturday, July 21, 2012

Five Music Books I want to Read this Summer - Kristina's Picks

I've done pretty well on my summer reading lists from the past two years, reading 3 out of 5 books on each of the lists I wrote up in summer 2011 and summer 2010.  This year, I've been reading more and more nonfiction, and, recently, I read and really enjoyed Just Kids (M) by Patti Smith, so I thought I'd keep my summer reading focused on the music world:. Here are five titles I want to read this summer.

Fear of Music (M) by Jonathan Lethem. When a great American novelist pens a nonfiction book about a great American album, it seems the sort of thing that both book and music lovers should pay attention to. When the well-known author and well-known album also line up with your own personal taste (as for me these do), it seems doubly so. Part of the ongoing Continuum publishing 33 1/3 series (M) of books that focus on important albums from a variety of genres, this is Lethem's take on Talking Heads' 1979 album Fear of Music.

My next two books sort of fit together as they both come out of the same music scene, looking at bands and labels that defined American Indie music through much of the 1990s and continue to have great influence today. Our Noise: the story of Merge Records the indie  label that got big and stayed small (Mby John Cook, Mac McCaughan, and Laura Ballance. 

Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the rise of indie rock (M) by Jesse Jarnow. Yo La Tengo and Superchunk (of which McCaughan and Ballance are members) are among my favourite bands, so these books seem like essential summer reading for me and hopefully for any one with a few Merge or Matador Records releases in their home music library.

Girls to the Front: the true story of the Riot Grrrl revolution (M) by Sara Marcus. This one came up in conversation with a friend recently while we were discussing a different book that we had both already read, Girl Power: the nineties revolution in music (M) by Marisa Meltzer. My pal suggested they made good companion reading and I'm looking forward to having a book chat with her once I've read the Marcus book as well.

Fargo Rock City (Mby Chuck Klosterman. A book that seems to have been on my TBR list forever, despite the fact that I really don't have much interest in the type of music that Klosterman wrote this memoir about. Subtitled "a heavy metal odyssey" it focuses on the sort of heavy metal that was popular in the 1980s: bands like Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Guns N' Roses. But I've read a number of Klosterman's other pop culture books (including Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (M) and Killing Yourself to Live (M)), and love his funny and astute revelations about modern American society. Library Journal called this one "Perhaps more than a memoir, this is a seriocomedic defense of a culture that was only cool to those who participated in it"—I can get behind that.

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