A Music Enthusiast's Fiction Summer Reading List

Summer vacation is the perfect time to get lost in a riveting story. If you’re a music lover these are the best stories for you.

Put that gas station romance thriller back on the revolving stand it came from, right next to the Zippo lighters. You like good music—you deserve books about Hank Williams Sr’s ghost haunting a heroin addict or a punk rock couple struggling with inner demons in an abandoned town.

If fiction isn’t your thing, check out our list of music bios, memoirs and histories here. But for all you music fans and fiction lovers, check out the list below.

Fiction Written by Musicians

I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive by Steve Earle

The beloved country singer and actor penned this rollercoaster of emotions in 2011. The Washington Post described this novel about a disgraced doctor turned heroin addict and the peculiar Mexican girl he meets as a “candy-coated Texas noir.”

The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

I didn’t read this one; I listened to it as an audiobook. It’s narrated by Cave himself, so I highly recommend it. Cave’s dramatic voice makes an already thrilling mystery even more intense—it’s perfect for long summer road trips. (If you like this, you should also check out Cave’s And The Ass Saw The Angel.)

The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen

This fiction novel is as poetic, deep and philosophical as Cohen’s music. The story follows an enlightening journey through a man’s life and offers lessons about love, harsh realizations and sacrifices.

Where Is Joe Merchant? by Jimmy Buffett

This is probably the closest on this list to a typical summer vacation book. Jimmy Buffett’s book is an easy read that takes you on a dangerous, yet comical mystery.

The Vulture by Gil Scott-Heron

The soul/jazz soloist released this book the same year as his debut album. It’s a story about four men whose lives are intertwined through murder, drugs and mystery.

Fiction Based on Music/Musicians

Palaces by Simon Jacobs

A punk rock couple are bouncing from house show to house show and living on the streets—until one day they awake to riots, hop a freight train and find themselves in a completely abandoned area. Here they figure out dark mysterious secrets about the town’s past and about themselves.

Rock Dreams by Nik Cohn, illustrated by Guy Peellaert

Surreal art and texts about rock stars of the past with stories based on songs by these musicians—like Otis Redding on a dock by the bay and The Beach Boys on the beach. Not only a fun read, Rock Dreams is also visually captivating.

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone By Stephanie Kuehnert

A story about a suburban girl who was abandoned by her punk rock mom—she’s all grown up now and starts a band in hopes to be reunited with her mother.

The Town Slut’s Daughter by Heather Haley

A riveting story about a Canadian girl who finds herself in the midst of a troubling NYC punk scene. She fights her way through drugs, the patriarchy and abuse to kept her dream of being a singer alive.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I couldn’t not include this classic. Plus, the book is always better than the movie—even if it did become a classic early 2000’s rom-com. If you don’t already know, the story is about a heartbroken record store owner trying to put the pieces of his life back together.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Pulitzer Prize winning novel about an aging punker/record executive and his troubled employee. Exhilarating stories about each of their pasts and how their lives got intertwined.

Talking To Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield

A fun, refreshing book about a boy in the ‘80s trying to find love through the music of the times. A great follow up to the authors bestselling novel Love Is A Mixtape.

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

A National Book Critics Circle award-winning novel about a motherless boy trying to make it in a 1970s Brooklyn. This is an emotional coming of age story that shows the power of music and friendship.

Kill Your Friends by John Niven

A cocaine addict A&R man coming off the high of the brit pop craze is searching for the next hit band. He’ll find them even if he has to stab a few backs on the way—figuratively and literally. (The film adaptation has already become somewhat of a cult classic in the UK.)

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