100 books like Her Country

By Marissa R. Moss,

Here are 100 books that Her Country fans have personally recommended if you like Her Country. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Just Kids

John Glynn Author Of Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

From my list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi! I'm John Glynn, and I'm excited to share some book recommendations inspired by one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, "Cruel Summer."  To me, this song perfectly encapsulates the heightened emotions of summer love—a theme at the heart of my memoir Out East. I chose books that capture the "fever dream highs" of the season. But at the same time, as Taylor sings, "Summer's a knife," filled with longing and heartache, primed for nostalgia. All of these books carry the kind of moonlit shimmer I crave in a smart beach read. As a Swiftie, a beach lover, an avid reader, and a hopeless romantic, I hope you enjoy.

John's book list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”

John Glynn Why did John love this book?

This might be my all-time favorite memoir. Every time I sit down to write, I tend to read a few pages of it to absorb the rhythm of Patti Smith’s unadorned, lyrical writing.

Like Taylor Swift, Patti Smith is a music icon, a poet, and a genius wordsmith. For me, this book totally captured the radiant nostalgia of a bygone era and a romantic love that evolves into something more permanent and transcendent.

By Patti Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Just Kids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

“Reading rocker Smith’s account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it’s hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding.” -- People

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence…


Book cover of Chronicles

Lo Carmen Author Of Lovers Dreamers Fighters

From my list on being in love with music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a singer/songwriter and I grew up in a rock’n’roll household. My family has always traded great books about music between us, memoirs, biographies, scientific studies, deep dives into subcultures, industry exposes – I love them all and find a good music book impossible to resist. I always get excited when I find books written by other obsessive music-loving kindred spirits––if I can feel the love I’m right in there with them. I especially love the behind-the-scenes stories and insights into the work and fascinations that helped forge an artist’s career.

Lo's book list on being in love with music

Lo Carmen Why did Lo love this book?

A tender meditation on all the disparate threads, sounds, loves, conversations, and lessons that meld together to create an artist. Watching Bob trying to throw off the accolades and labels that want to pin him down like butterfly and explore whatever takes his fancy is my favorite part of this trip, weaving through all the stolen records and ghosts and signposts and colored lights beckoning. 

By Bob Dylan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Building on the success of Bob Dylan in His Own Words, an autobiographical portrait of the acclaimed musical performer recounts personal and professional experiences and features black-and-white photography. 250,000 first printing.


Book cover of Run, Rose, Run

Tracey Laird Author Of Dolly Parton: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life

From my list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive.

Why am I passionate about this?

My research and writing about music, particularly country and other Southern genres, began with the "Louisiana Hayride", a radio barn dance in the post-World War II era that launched both Hank Williams and Elvis Presley to prominence. From there, I turned to the long-running PBS music showcase Austin City Limits, which now names a huge music festival as well. In both projects, understanding music encompassed larger contexts of region, media, and meaning, all of which bear on understanding Dolly Parton as a musician and songwriter; as Appalachian; as a recording, TV, and movie star; and as a global cultural icon. I’ve never known life without Dolly Parton in it. Of this, I’m glad.

Tracey's book list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive

Tracey Laird Why did Tracey love this book?

Is there anything Dolly can’t do?

In 2022 she teamed with best-selling thriller author James Patterson on a novel about an aspiring country musician with a troubled past. AnnieLee hitchhikes her way to Nashville, but just as her musical career starts to gain traction, the demons from her past start to catch up.

Knowing Dolly co-wrote the story makes it hard to avoid reading her voice into the experiences of the youthful main character, but also into the voice of the older country music legend Ruthanna, who takes the struggling newcomer under her wing.

This book reminds you that Dolly, at her core, is a skillful storyteller.

By James Patterson, Dolly Parton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Run, Rose, Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller—a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.

Every song tells a story. 

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her. 

She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past. 

Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny.  It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her.  And destroy her. 

Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that…


Book cover of Shots

Lo Carmen Author Of Lovers Dreamers Fighters

From my list on being in love with music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a singer/songwriter and I grew up in a rock’n’roll household. My family has always traded great books about music between us, memoirs, biographies, scientific studies, deep dives into subcultures, industry exposes – I love them all and find a good music book impossible to resist. I always get excited when I find books written by other obsessive music-loving kindred spirits––if I can feel the love I’m right in there with them. I especially love the behind-the-scenes stories and insights into the work and fascinations that helped forge an artist’s career.

Lo's book list on being in love with music

Lo Carmen Why did Lo love this book?

Written by the revered god-daddy of Australian songcraft, Shots is a beat peek behind the curtain of what it is to be a young band on the road and on the rise, all lens flare vignettes; dry, brutal, and perfect, as cool as The Don himself. His uncanny way with words lets us bear witness to the country hall dances, Kings Cross streets, and back of the van like a poetic spy cam.

By Don Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This remarkable memoir begins with Don Walker's early life in rural Australia and goes up to the late ’80s. In mesmerising prose, Walker evokes childhood and youth, wild times in the ’70s, life on the road and in Kings Cross, music-making and much more. Shots is a stunningly original book, a set of word pictures – shots – that conjure up the lowlife and backroads of Australia.

‘Singular, strong and beguiling’ —The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Better than good. Most of the time it is brilliant.’ —Australian Book Review

‘The book shines with its descriptive sense of place. Shots carries the…


Book cover of Nina Simone's Gum

Lo Carmen Author Of Lovers Dreamers Fighters

From my list on being in love with music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a singer/songwriter and I grew up in a rock’n’roll household. My family has always traded great books about music between us, memoirs, biographies, scientific studies, deep dives into subcultures, industry exposes – I love them all and find a good music book impossible to resist. I always get excited when I find books written by other obsessive music-loving kindred spirits––if I can feel the love I’m right in there with them. I especially love the behind-the-scenes stories and insights into the work and fascinations that helped forge an artist’s career.

Lo's book list on being in love with music

Lo Carmen Why did Lo love this book?

As someone that lovingly collected fallen sequins from a theatre dressing room floor after a show as a kid, I relate hard to this story of the intense love and awe Warren Ellis has for Nina Simone, and for seeing the world through a lens of music in general. His snowballing obsession with Nina Simone’s discarded gum (which I once had the pleasure of seeing, back when it lived unceremoniously inside a plastic bag on a shelf) makes for a wild absurdist ride through true love.

By Warren Ellis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nina Simone's Gum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TIMES TOP 10 BESTSELLER
A GUARDIAN, TELEGRAPH, THE TIMES, IRISH TIMES, SUNDAY EXPRESS, ROUGH TRADE, MOJO, CLASH, ROLLING STONE, UNCUT BOOK OF THE YEAR

From award-winning musician and composer Warren Ellis comes the unexpected and inspiring story of a piece of chewing gum.

FEATURING AN INTRODUCTION BY NICK CAVE

I hadn't opened the towel that contained her gum since 2013. The last person to touch it was Nina Simone, her saliva and fingerprints unsullied. The idea that it was still in her towel was something I had drawn strength from. I thought each time I opened it some of…


Book cover of Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton

Tracey Laird Author Of Dolly Parton: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life

From my list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive.

Why am I passionate about this?

My research and writing about music, particularly country and other Southern genres, began with the "Louisiana Hayride", a radio barn dance in the post-World War II era that launched both Hank Williams and Elvis Presley to prominence. From there, I turned to the long-running PBS music showcase Austin City Limits, which now names a huge music festival as well. In both projects, understanding music encompassed larger contexts of region, media, and meaning, all of which bear on understanding Dolly Parton as a musician and songwriter; as Appalachian; as a recording, TV, and movie star; and as a global cultural icon. I’ve never known life without Dolly Parton in it. Of this, I’m glad.

Tracey's book list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive

Tracey Laird Why did Tracey love this book?

Musicologist Lydia Hamessley delved into Dolly’s songwriting corpus over the course of a decade, analyzing her tremendous output of songs, according to different categories.

“Coat of Many Colors,” for example, is the most beloved from among Dolly’s autobiographical songs. Lydia breaks down the harmony, and relationships between melody and lyrics to explain why the song works so well.

Songs about women’s lives, in another section, includes deeply affecting vignettes like “Down from Dover,” about a pregnant young woman’s despair after being abandoned by her lover and rejected by family.

Lydia’s book systematically unpacks the musical heart of Dolly’s creative genius, a quality that can at times be overshadowed in writings about her by the outsized nature of Dolly’s public persona.

By Lydia R. Hamessley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unlikely Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dolly Parton's success as a performer and pop culture phenomenon has overshadowed her achievements as a songwriter. But she sees herself as a songwriter first, and with good reason. Parton's compositions like "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene" have become American standards with an impact far beyond country music.

Lydia R. Hamessley's expert analysis and Parton's characteristically straightforward input inform this comprehensive look at the process, influences, and themes that have shaped the superstar's songwriting artistry. Hamessley reveals how Parton's loving, hardscrabble childhood in the Smoky Mountains provided the musical language, rhythms, and memories of old-time music that resonate…


Book cover of She Come by It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs

Tracey Laird Author Of Dolly Parton: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life

From my list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive.

Why am I passionate about this?

My research and writing about music, particularly country and other Southern genres, began with the "Louisiana Hayride", a radio barn dance in the post-World War II era that launched both Hank Williams and Elvis Presley to prominence. From there, I turned to the long-running PBS music showcase Austin City Limits, which now names a huge music festival as well. In both projects, understanding music encompassed larger contexts of region, media, and meaning, all of which bear on understanding Dolly Parton as a musician and songwriter; as Appalachian; as a recording, TV, and movie star; and as a global cultural icon. I’ve never known life without Dolly Parton in it. Of this, I’m glad.

Tracey's book list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive

Tracey Laird Why did Tracey love this book?

This book positions Dolly as an icon for women’s struggles for equality and autonomy, through the lens of working-class women Sarah knew growing up. 

In songs like “Just Because I’m a Woman,” Dolly lays out issues of gender-based double standards just as clearly as any feminist analysis published in an academic journal, arguably, more clearly. Songs like “Eagle When She Flies” convey, in Sarah’s words, the “simultaneous vulnerability and deep power of women.” The first example was banned in its time on US radio, while many country radio DJs refused to play the latter during the early 1990s.

Sarah connects the dots and argues that Dolly’s feminism is embodied in her creative output and her actions, decade after decade. Dolly’s 2018 song “A Woman’s Right” makes a good follow-up.

By Sarah Smarsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Come by It Natural as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this Time Top 100 Book of the Year, the National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Heartland “analyzes how Dolly Parton’s songs—and success—have embodied feminism for working-class women” (People).

Growing up amid Kansas wheat fields and airplane factories, Sarah Smarsh witnessed firsthand the particular vulnerabilities—and strengths—of women in working poverty. Meanwhile, country songs by female artists played in the background, telling powerful stories about life, men, hard times, and surviving. In her family, she writes, “country music was foremost a language among women. It’s how we talked to each other in a place where feelings…


Book cover of Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music, 1800-2000

Tracey Laird Author Of Dolly Parton: 100 Remarkable Moments in an Extraordinary Life

From my list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive.

Why am I passionate about this?

My research and writing about music, particularly country and other Southern genres, began with the "Louisiana Hayride", a radio barn dance in the post-World War II era that launched both Hank Williams and Elvis Presley to prominence. From there, I turned to the long-running PBS music showcase Austin City Limits, which now names a huge music festival as well. In both projects, understanding music encompassed larger contexts of region, media, and meaning, all of which bear on understanding Dolly Parton as a musician and songwriter; as Appalachian; as a recording, TV, and movie star; and as a global cultural icon. I’ve never known life without Dolly Parton in it. Of this, I’m glad.

Tracey's book list on people who want a Dolly Parton deeper dive

Tracey Laird Why did Tracey love this book?

This book is a classic. Along with the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country recordings and Bill Malone’s Country Music, U.S.A., my own interest in writing about country music began here. 

When a senior scholar advised that country music lacked “respectability” as an academic topic, this book was among the small set of works that sealed my confidence to do what I wanted and figure it would all work itself out (Dolly does what she wants, too!).

In compiling biographical profiles of women in country music, this book also filled in a whole portion of history typically glossed over in most country music writing up until that point. It likewise planted seeds for future research and writing on the history of women in the genre, which continues to bear fruit today.

By Mary A. Bufwack, Robert K. Oermann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Her Voice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From country's earliest pioneers to its greatest legends, this work documents the lives of the female artists who have shaped the music for over 200 years. Through interviews, photographs, and primary texts, this work weaves a complex tapestry of personalities and talent. It gets to the heart of the special bond female artists have with their audiences. People seeking to understand the context out of which mega-stars such as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the Dixie Chicks emerged should look no farther than this guide. Some of the women discussed include Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, Patsy Montana, Alison Krauss, Martha…


Book cover of Broken Horses: A Memoir

Kristina Riggle Author Of Vivian In Red

From my list on unapologetic women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved stories about the anti-heroines–messy, brash women who do things in print that I would never dream of doing in real life. I’ve tried to honor the difficult women in my own books, by showing that a heroine’s flaws do not have to be adorable to carry a narrative. My first career was as a reporter for small-town newspapers, during which time I enjoyed confounding my sources who underestimated a petite, baby-faced young woman. Journalism may have been an awkward fit at times for a person raised to be a nice girl (a literal Girl Scout) but it certainly gave me opportunities to practice being an unapologetic woman!

Kristina's book list on unapologetic women

Kristina Riggle Why did Kristina love this book?

I became a Brandi Carlile fan through her memoir, first. Various bookish people had been excited about it, and I love a memoir in audiobook, especially from a creative person. She sings! In the audiobook! Coming of age as an openly gay young person in the 1990s Pacific Northwest who loved country music wasn’t the easiest way to fit in. (I saw her in concert recently, and she joked about performing three-part harmony in Seattle at the height of grunge.) But she has always embraced her inner misfit. For example, some of her early performance costumes were inspired by the outlandish outfits of ‘70s Elton John…who is now a personal friend. “The Joke”, one of her most beautiful songs, is all about the misfits winning out in the end, and I love her for this stubborn faith.

By Brandi Carlile,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Broken Horses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and six-time Grammy winner opens up about faith, sexuality, parenthood, and a life shaped by music in “one of the great memoirs of our time” (Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed).

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND AUTOSTRADDLE • “The best-written, most engaging rock autobiography since her childhood hero, Elton John, published Me.”—Variety

Brandi Carlile was born into a musically gifted, impoverished family on the outskirts of Seattle and grew up in a constant state of change, moving from house to house, trailer to…


Book cover of Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.

R. P. Rioux Author Of Swimming Through the Dawn

From my list on for starting your own band.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since childhood, I've been in love with musicians, the world they live in, and the fruits of their labor. I spent years listening to my parent's record collection, which covered everything from pop, rock, and country, to jazz and classical. Today, music continues to stir my passion like nothing else. Though an industry career was never in the cards for me personally, I've frequently hovered around its periphery. My goal was to write a band story, one that strayed from common tropes to explore, through humor and heartbreak, the many joys and pitfalls of life in this mercurial and often nonsensical industry. The result was my trilogy, Idol Pursuits. Enjoy.

R. P.'s book list on for starting your own band

R. P. Rioux Why did R. P. love this book?

In many ways, my trilogy is an open love letter to the many female singers and musicians I've admired ever since I was young. While extensively referencing numerous artists as befitting the context of my story, it pained me I had to leave out many noteworthy examples for practical purposes. Women Who Rock goes a long way towards making up the difference. This powerhouse book represents a compendium of extraordinary ladies who have contributed to the evolution of pop music in our culture, but who rarely get as much credit as they deserve collectively. The assembled stories force you to sit up and take notice of their impressive accomplishments. 

By Evelyn McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women Who Rock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Bessie Smith and The Supremes to Joan Baez, Madonna, Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Dolly Parton, Sleater-Kinney, Taylor Swift, and scores more, women have played an essential and undeniable role in the evolution of popular music including blues, rock and roll, country, folk, glam rock, punk, and hip hop. Today, in a world traditionally dominated by male artists, women have a stronger influence on popular music than ever before. Yet, not since the late nineteen-nineties has there been a major work that acknowledges and pays tribute to the female artists who have contributed to, defined, and continue to make inroads in…


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