Just Kids by Patti Smith
Frequently hailed as the godmother of punk, this touching memoir details Patti Smith’s entrance into the New York music and art scene in the early 1970s, where she meets and falls for the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Tinged with youthful innocence and naivety, this tale of two young artists struggling to get by explores not only their artistic collaboration and growth, with Mapplethorpe discovering photography and Smith’s transition from poet to musician, but also Mapplethorpe’s realisation that he was gay. After Mapplethorpe died in 1989 from complications from AIDs, this book is ultimately an ode to her friend, companion and lover.
The Road Beneath my Feet by Frank Turner
Folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner is a touring veteran. Since September 2004, he has performed over 2,000 shows across the globe from house parties in Newcastle to punk bunkers in China. His honest, humorous and at times self-deprecating memoir follows his life on the road as he travels the globe. Starting as a small, unknown musician playing in pubs and squats to tiny audiences, he takes us through the glory days of Nambucca, where the open-mic night saw Laura Marling, Jamie T and Kid Harpoon during the early days of their career, right up to his sell out show in Wembley Arena. Littered with personal anecdotes about love, politics, friendship and loss, and ultimately the importance of staying humble.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
If you’re a YA lover, this one is for you. The story follows Nick, the only straight member of the queercore band ‘The Jerk-Offs’, and Norah, a sassy, cynical, music geek as they search for the venue where local band ‘Where’s Fluffy’ are playing their secret gig. They cross paths through a series of chance encounters on what seems to be a never-ending night of heartbreak, whirlwind romance and live music.
It’s Different for Girls by Jo Brand
Jo Brand’s second novel follows two Hastings teenagers in their discovery of sex, drugs and music. A funny and honest portrayal of girlhood in the 70s and 80s, this coming of age novel follows Susan and Rachel’s journey through adolescence, as one falls into the progressive rock of the new age movement, whilst the other discovers the London punk scene in a bedsit in Bromley. Whilst Brand’s writing style isn’t particularly ground-breaking, it’s a quick, funny and relatable read.
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way
For me personally, graphic novels have always been linked to music – I discovered them through my favourite bands, the first one I read, Watchmen, was inspired by Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row, and other comics such as Tank Girl have been hugely popular within independent music scenes. This award-winning debut comic by the MCR frontman is itself in many ways about the power of music, as an orchestra, ‘The Apocalypse Suite’, attempts to bring worldwide destruction through their music. The ‘Umbrella Academy’ is a dysfunctional family of superheroes, who reunite in an attempt to save the world from the Apocalypse Suite, however they discover that the problem is much closer to home than they thought. Gothic, witty and exceptionally illustrated, this is great introduction to the world of graphic novels.