100 books like On the Road

By David W. Hewitt,

Here are 100 books that On the Road fans have personally recommended if you like On the Road. 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 Lighters in the Sky: The All-Time Greatest Concerts, 1960-2016

Seth Mallios Author Of Let it Rock! Live From San Diego State

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Who am I?

While it is tempting to insist that the reason we wrote a five-volume set on the history of local rock ‘n’ roll was as context for rescuing the famed 1976 “Backdoor Mural,” it’s not entirely true. Jaime and I love live music, mark major life events with important musical milestones, and delight in bizarre musical tangents. Music moves us, history matters, and the intersection of song and society is profound, elucidating, and eternally relevant.

Seth's book list on die-hard rockers

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Lighters in the Sky: The All-Time Greatest Concerts takes on the tall task of trying to chronicle the greatest live popular music concerts in history. Corbin Reiff offers intricacies of the cultural and historical context for the legendary shows as well as details about the specific performances. Designed to entertain fans of all genres and certain to foment a bevy of arguments among die-hard fans, this book is delightful.

By Corbin Reiff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lighters in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Passionate, personal, and articulated from the lens of a masterful historian with a sharp interest in the topic. . . . A book that feels immersive without being stuffy, authoritative without being dismissive, and historical without being boring. It takes a rare writer to cover acts as disparate as Van Halen, The Dixie Chicks, and NWA with equal gravitas and knowledge, but in Lighters in the Sky Reiff has done just that..” ―UPROXX

“Veteran music critic Corbin Reiff catalogs a well-researched, year-by-year breakdown of the most seminal concerts in each of the last six decades.” ―Business Insider

“A first-rate tribute…


Book cover of Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé

Seth Mallios Author Of Let it Rock! Live From San Diego State

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Who am I?

While it is tempting to insist that the reason we wrote a five-volume set on the history of local rock ‘n’ roll was as context for rescuing the famed 1976 “Backdoor Mural,” it’s not entirely true. Jaime and I love live music, mark major life events with important musical milestones, and delight in bizarre musical tangents. Music moves us, history matters, and the intersection of song and society is profound, elucidating, and eternally relevant.

Seth's book list on die-hard rockers

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Few books on popular music history include analysis of the evolving conditions of live concerts. Most inventory the top shows and offer quirky anecdotes, but Steve Waksman’s Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé refuses to separate the actual performance from the numerous behind-the-scene individuals that shaped the shows. Readers will come to appreciate diverse influences over a turbulent 170-year history that have led to today’s modern music festival.

By Steve Waksman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live Music in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Swedish concert singer Jenny Lind toured the U.S. in 1850, she became the prototype for the modern pop star. Meanwhile, her manager, P.T. Barnum, became the prototype for another figure of enduring significance: the pop culture impresario. Starting with Lind's fabled U.S. tour and winding all the way into the twenty-first century, Live Music in America surveys the ongoing impact and changing conditions of live music performance in the U.S. It covers
a range of historic performances, from the Fisk Jubilee Singers expanding the sphere of African American music in the 1870s, to Benny Goodman bringing swing to…


Book cover of Rock Concert: An Oral History as Told by the Artists, Backstage Insiders, and Fans Who Were There

Seth Mallios Author Of Let it Rock! Live From San Diego State

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Who am I?

While it is tempting to insist that the reason we wrote a five-volume set on the history of local rock ‘n’ roll was as context for rescuing the famed 1976 “Backdoor Mural,” it’s not entirely true. Jaime and I love live music, mark major life events with important musical milestones, and delight in bizarre musical tangents. Music moves us, history matters, and the intersection of song and society is profound, elucidating, and eternally relevant.

Seth's book list on die-hard rockers

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Marc Meyers uses interviews with some of the most influential rock stars of all time to compile an in-depth study of how live rock gained such cache in modern society. His Rock Concert: An Oral History as Told by the Artists, Backstage Insiders, and Fans Who Were There includes colorful testimony from the icons who made music history to create an authentic and unfiltered history of live rock ‘n’ roll.

By Marc Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lively, entertaining, wide-ranging oral history of the golden age of the rock concert based on over ninety interviews with musicians, promoters, stagehands, and others who contributed to the huge cultural phenomenon that is live rock 



Decades after the rise of rock music in the 1950s, the rock concert retains its allure and its power as a unifying experience—and as an influential multi-billion-dollar industry. In Rock Concert, acclaimed interviewer Marc Myers sets out to uncover the history of this compelling phenomenon, weaving together ground-breaking accounts from the people who were there.



Myers combines the tales of icons like Joan Baez,…


Book cover of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever

Seth Mallios Author Of Let it Rock! Live From San Diego State

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Who am I?

While it is tempting to insist that the reason we wrote a five-volume set on the history of local rock ‘n’ roll was as context for rescuing the famed 1976 “Backdoor Mural,” it’s not entirely true. Jaime and I love live music, mark major life events with important musical milestones, and delight in bizarre musical tangents. Music moves us, history matters, and the intersection of song and society is profound, elucidating, and eternally relevant.

Seth's book list on die-hard rockers

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

Frank Mastropolo gives ample justification for why Fillmore East was hailed as The Church of Rock ’n’ Roll in his book, Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever. The text brims with photographs, memorabilia, and first-hand accounts of the most legendary shows to occur at the legendary East Village (NYC) locale.

By Frank Mastropolo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF THE YEAR! – BEST CLASSIC BANDS

"Fillmore East is the simply the best book on rock and R&B of 2021... a must-read for any fan of the music of the ’60s, ’70s and beyond." — Reel Urban News

"With interviewees including Taj Mahal, John Mayall, Dave Davies, Mark Farner, Roger McGuinn and many more, the story takes in a magical place at a magical time. There are heavy bills and many choice recollections." – MOJO magazine

"Mastropolo’s book will provide a boatload of memories for those lucky enough to have been there and…


Book cover of Chuck Berry: The Autobiography

Peter Guralnick Author Of Looking to Get Lost: Adventures in Music and Writing

From my list on biographical reading from a biographer.

Who am I?

Peter Guralnick has been called "a national resource" by critic Nat Hentoff for work that has argued passionately and persuasively for the vitality of this country’s intertwined black and white musical traditions. His books include the prize-winning two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love; Searching for Robert Johnson; Sweet Soul Music; and Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. His 2015 biography, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, was a finalist for the Plutarch Award for Best Biography of the Year, awarded by the Biographers International Organization. His most recent book is Looking to Get Lost: Adventures in Music and Writing.

Peter's book list on biographical reading from a biographer

Peter Guralnick Why did Peter love this book?

Chuck Berry: The Autobiography is a primary clue to the Inner Chuck, if not the Facts of Chuck, an indisputable masterpiece, witty, elegant, and revealing, and (or perhaps but) ultimately elusive. Unlike so many music (and other) autobiographies, every word of this one was written by its author in a web of elegant, intricate connections that are both coded and transparent. Very much like the songs.

By Chuck Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the original rock and rollers tells his own story, discussing his childhood in St. Louis, his first musical efforts and his subsequent stardom, and many of the controversial detours he has taken along the way


Book cover of A Women's History of the Beatles

Nicholas Tochka Author Of Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America

From my list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll.

Who am I?

Hi, my name is Nick, and I’m a recovering rockist. I’ve collected records and vintage gear; I’ve owned Ray Coleman biographies. I’ve played in garage bands that did terrible punk-rock covers of songs like Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” I even used to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. And most embarrassingly, I believed in the power of rock – to effect political change, to free people’s bodies and minds. But if once I was a true believer, today I’ve become a rock ’n’ roll skeptic. And I hope that this list might help you rethink everything you thought you knew about rock, too.

Nicholas' book list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll

Nicholas Tochka Why did Nicholas love this book?

Over the past few decades, so much writing about rock has sought to overturn received wisdom about the music.

Feldman-Barrett’s excellent, funny, and beautifully written book – re-examining the Beatles in relation to the lives of women – is the best kind of alternative history. She turns the story of the Beatles upside down, and makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about the group.

By Christine Feldman-Barrett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Women's History of the Beatles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2022 Open Publication Prize by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-ANZ) A Women's History of the Beatles is the first book to offer a detailed presentation of the band's social and cultural impact as understood through the experiences and lives of women. Drawing on a mix of interviews, archival research, textual analysis, and autoethnography, this scholarly work depicts how the Beatles have profoundly shaped and enriched the lives of women, while also reexamining key, influential female figures within the group's history. Organized topically based on key themes important to the Beatles story, each…


Book cover of It Came from Memphis

Ronald Kidd Author Of Lord of the Mountain

From my list on American roots music.

Who am I?

From my earliest days I was surrounded by music, from Friday night family band to our musical Christmas card on a bright red record to trumpet trios played with my dad and brother. I went to the University of Southern California on a trumpet scholarship, then took a detour from music and tried writing. I liked it. To this day, one of my favorite things is combining these two interests to create novels, stories, and plays about music. Since moving to Nashville, I’ve immersed myself in American popular music and have loved returning to my roots. 

Ronald's book list on American roots music

Ronald Kidd Why did Ronald love this book?

In Memphis during the 1950s, there was Black and there was White, but the two rarely met. One of the few places where they did was in clubs and recording studios, and the sparks they struck started a fire that came to be called rock ’n’ roll. 

In this wonderfully rich stew of a book, author and filmmaker Robert Gordon walks the streets of Memphis, exploring the sights and sounds and smells of a unique, endlessly fascinating world. 

As Gordon’s publisher says, “This is a book about the weirdos, winos, and midget wrestlers who forged the rock ’n’ roll spirit.” As Rolling Stone says, “If you haven’t read this book, do it now.”

By Robert Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It Came from Memphis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vienna in the 1880s. Paris in the 1920s. Memphis in the 1950s. These are the paradigm shifts of modern culture. Memphis then was like Seattle with grunge or Brooklyn with hip-hop―except the change was more than musical: Underground Memphis embraced African American culture when dominant society abhorred it. The effect rocked the world. We’re all familiar with the stars’ stories, but It Came From Memphis runs with the the kids in that first rock and roll audience, where they befriended the older blues artists, the travails of blazing a rock and roll career path where one had not existed (nor…


Book cover of How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music

Nicholas Tochka Author Of Rocking in the Free World: Popular Music and the Politics of Freedom in Postwar America

From my list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll.

Who am I?

Hi, my name is Nick, and I’m a recovering rockist. I’ve collected records and vintage gear; I’ve owned Ray Coleman biographies. I’ve played in garage bands that did terrible punk-rock covers of songs like Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” I even used to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine. And most embarrassingly, I believed in the power of rock – to effect political change, to free people’s bodies and minds. But if once I was a true believer, today I’ve become a rock ’n’ roll skeptic. And I hope that this list might help you rethink everything you thought you knew about rock, too.

Nicholas' book list on making you rethink everything about rock ’n’ roll

Nicholas Tochka Why did Nicholas love this book?

A provocative pre-history of rock music, written to provoke. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for John, Paul, George, and Ringo to show up.)

Wald crafts a fascinating alternative history of commercial popular music in the first half of the twentieth century, asking readers to focus not on big names or influential records but on the everyday practices, technologies, and contexts through which musicians and listeners actually experienced the music. Avoid if you don’t want to see a few sacred cows slaughtered.

By Elijah Wald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There are no definitive histories," writes Elijah Wald, in this provocative reassessment of American popular music, "because the past keeps looking different as the present changes." Earlier musical styles sound different to us today because we hear them through the musical filter of other styles that came after them, all the way through funk and hiphop. As its blasphemous title suggests, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll rejects the conventional pieties of mainstream jazz and rock history. Rather than concentrating on those traditionally favored styles, the book traces the evolution of popular music through developing tastes, trends and technologies-including…


Book cover of The Beatles: The Only Ever Authorised Biography

Spencer Leigh Author Of Little Richard: Send Me Some Lovin'

From my list on the Beatles.

Who am I?

We all know Little Richard’s great hits like "Long Tall, Sally", "Tutti Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" and Little Richard’s life was as wild as his records. It’s excess all areas as Spencer Leigh tells the story of Little Richard in Send Me Some Lovin. It is a biography of someone who transformed popular music. Spencer Leigh was born in 1945 and hearing Little Richard for the first time in 1956 changed his life. He is a world expert on the Beatles and he has written a series of music-based biographies – Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel – all of which are full of facts and opinions.

Spencer's book list on the Beatles

Spencer Leigh Why did Spencer love this book?

Published in 1968, this is the only authorised biography of the Beatles.

Davies was in the room when Lennon and McCartney were songwriting, providing insights worth the price of admission alone. He could have interviewed more of the outriders but on the other hand, this is a brilliant account of their claustrophobic world.

By Hunter Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There's only one book that ever truly got inside the Beatles and this is it. The landmark, worldwide bestseller that has grown with the Beatles ever since.

During 1967 and 1968 Hunter Davies spent eighteen months with the Beatles at the peak of their powers as they defined a generation and rewrote popular music. As their only ever authorised biographer he had unparalleled access - not just to John, Paul, George and Ringo but to friends, family and colleagues. There when it mattered, he collected a wealth of intimate and revealing material that still makes this the classic Beatles book…


Book cover of Music Legends: 40 inspiring icons

Fanny Britt Author Of Forever Truffle

From my list on music-loving readers in your family.

Who am I?

I often (half-) jokingly say that I'm a failed musician. Growing up in Montreal in the eighties, music was my deepest joy. I sang in choirs for years, and even fancied myself the next great baroque singer (I guess I was a nerd.) Nerves, however, got the best of me, and I turned to the next best thing, writing. In my family, music is a meeting place, a shared language; my kids have taught me as much about music as I have taught them. Nothing pleases me more than to see on a playlist of theirs a tune that I listened to before their birth. Music is the golden thread of my life. 

Fanny's book list on music-loving readers in your family

Fanny Britt Why did Fanny love this book?

The 7-to-10-year-old set will love this one. My own rock-loving son, who inspired the character of Truffle in our book, was addicted to this series of books (which also includes Black Music Greats: 40 inspiring icons), originally published in France. Both informative and filled with fun facts about the 40 artists selected by the authors (readers will learn about Mod culture through The Who, about how ABBA got their name, or how the Wu-Tang Clan influenced hip hop), the book reads like a cheat sheet on pop and rock music, with vivid and colorful illustrations.   

By Hervé Guilleminot, Jérôme Masi (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Music Legends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

The biggest bands…the hugest hits…the 40 most memorable music legends of all time are here! In this fun, fact-packed book from the 40 Inspiring Icons series, learn how these musicians became the voice of their generation. 

Meet the King of Pop, find out about the Fab Four, learn how Bob Dylan led a revolution, discover the different identities of David Bowie, and fall "Crazy in Love" with Beyoncé. From the Doors, whose single "Light My Fire" took them to #1 on the US charts after years in obscurity, to the Wu-Tang Clan, whose debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in popular music, rock music, and rock and roll?

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