Our favorite artists’ music can feel like a glimpse into their lives, a way to connect even more deeply with the disembodied voices that sound so good to the ears.
But the music is really only one side of the person, and often, fans aren’t given the opportunity to learn about the true ins and outs of an artist.
That’s where books come in. Just like how fiction has the ability to transport a reader to any time or place in this universe and beyond, books written by musicians are like tickets into their mysterious lives.
Here are 7 books by musicians, separated by genre, perfect for music lovers who want to get a little closer to their favorite audio magic.
1. Pop: I Would Leave Me If I Could by Halsey
Somehow, even after the soul-baring albums Badlands and Manic, singer-songwriter Halsey got even more vulnerable with the release of I Would Leave Me If I Could. The collection of poetry finds the pop star diving into relationships, sexuality, love, and the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.
Halsey: I would leave me if I could Theshorthorn
2. Rock: Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz
Named after his 1989 debut album, Let Love Rule, Lenny Kravitz’s 2020 memoir discusses his life as a biracial kid living in NYC and Los Angeles and the circles he effortlessly eased in and out of. Let Love Rule only covers Kravitz’s life until the release of that album of the same name. It’s the first of two books, so if you’re looking to learn about Kravitz’s experience as a neo-soul rock star, you’ll have to wait for the second memoir.
3. Dream Pop: Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass by Lana Del Rey
Another collection of poetry by a pop star, Lana Del Rey’s Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass is moody and drenched in 1950s-esque nostalgia. Fans of audiobooks should consider adding this one to their lists—Del Rey reads her entire collection with a soft piano accompaniment in the background. It’s like listening to a jazzy, spoken-word version of one of her albums.
4. Pop: My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen
Lily Allen doesn’t want to sit in one category. She’s a mom and a wife who’s also taken drugs. She’s a singer and a songwriter who has been both a success and a failure. “I am all these things and more,” Allen writes on the back cover of her memoir, My Thoughts Exactly. “When women share their stories, loudly and clearly and honestly, things begin to change – for the better. This is my story.” From her breakdowns to her addition and fame, Allen holds nothing back. It is her story, and her truth.
5. Indie Rock: Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner (from Japanese Breakfast)
In this memoir from Japanese Breakfast’s frontwoman Michelle Zauner, the musician chronicles her life as a Korean American child growing up in Oregon. It touches on Zauner’s relationship with her mother who died of cancer when Zauner was 25, her love of food, and her journey towards finding her own identity. Crying in H Mart is set to release on April 20, 2021.
Michelle ZaunerCrying in H Mart
6. R&B: The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey and Michaela Angela Davis
Up and downs, traumas and triumphs: there’s a lot that goes into making a person who they are. Mariah Carey wants to show fans how she came to be the person she is today in her recent memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. “It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir,” she writes. “Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.”
Mariah CareyRolling Stone
7. Indie Rock: Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollet (The Airborne Toxic Event)
Something you may or may not know is that Mikel Jollett, frontman of The Airborne Toxic Event, was born into a cult. What started as an experimental commune in California later turned into the Church of Synanon, where Jollet and his older brother lived separated from their mother. The story opens with Jollet at four-years-old, escaping the cult with his mother and brother in the middle of the night. Hollywood Park isn’t about the time in the Church of Synanon, however, it’s about Jollet’s life afterward, and the longstanding effects the experience had on him and his family.