100 books like Rage to Survive

By Etta James, David Ritz,

Here are 100 books that Rage to Survive fans have personally recommended if you like Rage to Survive. 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 Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

Maureen Mahon Author Of Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

From my list on African American women who shaped popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over many years of being an African American fan of rock music, I’ve learned that the combination of my gender, race, and musical taste can be disconcerting to people who expect Black women to adhere to a limited set of cultural interests. My frustration with these kinds of assumptions, my awareness that rock has deep roots in African American musical culture, my curiosity about the experiences of African American women who participated in rock and roll, and my desire to make sure that they are part of the stories we tell about the music’s history led me to write Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

Maureen's book list on African American women who shaped popular music

Maureen Mahon Why did Maureen love this book?

Iconic feminist, philosopher, and activist Angela Y. Davis put African American women at the center of the story of the blues, expanding our understanding of a genre usually presented as the purview of male artists. Discussing the music and careers of 1920s blues superstars Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith and 1930s jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, who was deeply influenced by the blues, Davis approaches the blues as music innovated, popularized, and consumed by African American women. She pays close attention to the impact of gender, race, and class on artists and audiences, and shows how these artists and their fans used blues music as entertainment, self-expression, social commentary, political critique, resistance, and survival.

By Angela Y. Davis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Blues Legacies and Black Feminism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of this country's most important intellectuals comes a brilliant analysis of the blues tradition that examines the careers of three crucial black women blues singers through a feminist lens. Angela Davis provides the historical, social, and political contexts with which to reinterpret the performances and lyrics of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday as powerful articulations of an alternative consciousness profoundly at odds with mainstream American culture.

The works of Rainey, Smith, and Holiday have been largely misunderstood by critics. Overlooked, Davis shows, has been the way their candor and bravado laid the groundwork for an…


Book cover of Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Maureen Mahon Author Of Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

From my list on African American women who shaped popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over many years of being an African American fan of rock music, I’ve learned that the combination of my gender, race, and musical taste can be disconcerting to people who expect Black women to adhere to a limited set of cultural interests. My frustration with these kinds of assumptions, my awareness that rock has deep roots in African American musical culture, my curiosity about the experiences of African American women who participated in rock and roll, and my desire to make sure that they are part of the stories we tell about the music’s history led me to write Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

Maureen's book list on African American women who shaped popular music

Maureen Mahon Why did Maureen love this book?

When Wald published her thoroughly researched and sensitively written biography of Tharpe, few people outside the world of gospel were familiar with the guitarist and singer or her significant contribution to twentieth-century music. Wald traces Tharpe’s years as an acoustic guitar-playing traveling teenage gospel evangelist, her role as one of the first stars of the fledgling genre of gospel in the 1930s and 1940s, her controversial decision to play gospel music in nightclubs, and her influence as a flashy virtuoso whose intricate licks on the electric guitar inspired musicians in country, rock and roll, and beyond. A well-told story of a fascinating woman, Shout, Sister, Shout! establishes Tharpe as a key figure in the evolution of twentieth-century popular music.   

By Gayle F. Wald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times Book Review Editor's Pick: The untold story of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe, America’s first rock guitar diva 

Long before "women in rock" became a media catchphrase, African American guitar virtuoso Rosetta Tharpe proved in spectacular fashion that women could rock. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, in 1915, Tharpe was gospel's first superstar and the preeminent crossover figure of its golden age (1945–1965).

Shout, Sister, Shout! is the first biography of this trailblazing performer who influenced scores of popular musicians—from Elvis Presley and Little Richard to Eric Clapton and Etta James. Tharpe…


Book cover of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound

Allyson McCabe Author Of Why Sinead O'Connor Matters

From my list on music that put women center stage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist whose work is often heard on NPR's national news magazines, and read in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine’s Vulture, BBC Culture, Wired, and Bandcamp. I'm most interested in stories about people, communities, and scenes that have been overlooked, forgotten, seen through a distorted lens, or perhaps never seen at all. I’m on a mission to get to a deeper understanding of what’s at stake in the way we see music and art- and the way we see ourselves.

Allyson's book list on music that put women center stage

Allyson McCabe Why did Allyson love this book?

Daphne A. Brooks’ book is a revolutionary work, centering more than a century of innovations by Black women in popular music who have been marginalized, overlooked, or erased.

Situating Zora Neale Hurston as a sound archivist and performer and Lorraine Hansberry as a cultural critic alongside blues pioneers such as Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith and contemporary artists like Janelle Monáe and Valerie June, Brooks doesn’t merely fill in blind spots.

She exposes how those blind spots reflect the partial, subjective view of white male critics and historians.

Showing us a different way of seeing and listening to culture, Brooks has informed and inspired my thinking, and some of the best work I’ve done as a journalist, including this piece about Elizabeth Cotten, whose music fueled the 1960s folk revival.

By Daphne A. Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Liner Notes for the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award
Winner of the MAAH Stone Book Award
A Rolling Stone Best Music Book of the Year
A Pitchfork Best Music Book of the Year

"Brooks traces all kinds of lines, finding unexpected points of connection...inviting voices to talk to one another, seeing what different perspectives can offer, opening up new ways of looking and listening by tracing lineages and calling for more space."
-New York Times

An award-winning Black feminist music critic takes us on an epic journey through radical sound from Bessie Smith to Beyonce.

Daphne A. Brooks explores more than a…


Book cover of The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop

Allyson McCabe Author Of Why Sinead O'Connor Matters

From my list on music that put women center stage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist whose work is often heard on NPR's national news magazines, and read in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine’s Vulture, BBC Culture, Wired, and Bandcamp. I'm most interested in stories about people, communities, and scenes that have been overlooked, forgotten, seen through a distorted lens, or perhaps never seen at all. I’m on a mission to get to a deeper understanding of what’s at stake in the way we see music and art- and the way we see ourselves.

Allyson's book list on music that put women center stage

Allyson McCabe Why did Allyson love this book?

With amazing illustrations by Rachelle Baker, the journalist Clover Hope spotlights dozens of women who have played an integral role in hip-hop’s story, from legends such as Roxanne Shanté and Lil’ Kim to less often celebrated trailblazers like Bytches with Problems.

Documenting women's often unrecognized influence, Hope leaves you with a sense of how deeply they have nevertheless left their mark, and keeps their legacy alive for future generations of music-makers.

By Clover Hope, Rachelle Baker (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An illustrated highlight reel of more than 100 women in rap who have helped shape the genre and eschewed gender norms in the process

The Motherlode highlights more than 100 women who have shaped the power, scope, and reach of rap music, including pioneers like Roxanne Shante, game changers like Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott, and current reigning queens like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Lizzo-as well as everyone who came before, after, and in between. Some of these women were respected but not widely celebrated. Some are impossible not to know. Some of these women have stood on their…


Book cover of Boys in the Trees: A Memoir

Liisa Kyle Author Of Be More Creative: 101 Activities to Unleash and Grow Your Creativity

From my list on the early lives of rock stars.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a life coach and author of two dozen self-help books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people to be more creative. I love reading about the early lives of artists because it is an engaging way to learn about the creative process. Even rock stars have doubts, insecurities, regrets, and setbacks. Yet, fueled by their passions, they persist. They overcome their obstacles and pursue unique paths to success. These books are inspirational and informative for anyone with a creative dream.

Liisa's book list on the early lives of rock stars

Liisa Kyle Why did Liisa love this book?

This is a candid autobiography of an unlikely rock star. Relying on her early journals, Carly Simon conveys the details of her privileged childhood and storybook career as a singer/songwriter. Woven through her musical accomplishments are her relationships – primarily her marriage to James Taylor – but also with Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Cat Stephens, and Kris Kristofferson. 

By Carly Simon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Boys in the Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller A People Magazine Top Ten Book of the Year 'A sensational memoir ...brilliantly well written. Carly Simon is incapable of writing a boring sentence ...you can forgive anything for the unparalleled brilliance of her writing' - Lynn Barber, Sunday Times 'Hugely affecting memoir ...heartfelt and remarkable' - Fiona Sturges, Independent Carly Simon is a household name. She was the staple of the '70s and '80s Billboard charts and was famously married to James Taylor with whom she has two children. She has had a career that has spanned four decades, resulting in thirteen top 40…


Book cover of Rock, Rosetta, Rock! Roll, Rosetta, Roll!: Presenting Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of Rock & Roll

Lisa Rogers Author Of Beautiful Noise: The Music of John Cage

From my list on music innovators.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since childhood, I’ve wondered about people who led inventive, innovative lives. How did they get their inspiration? Where did their ideas come from? How did they take that inspiration and change the world? I found information, but not the answers I was looking for, at the library. When I became an elementary library teacher, new forms of biographies – beautiful picture book biographies about people of all kinds – became available. My students loved them and so did I, and I became inspired to write for children. I’m excited that my first two picture book biographies, which received starred reviews, are out in the world – with more coming your way!

Lisa's book list on music innovators

Lisa Rogers Why did Lisa love this book?

I shared books with children as an elementary librarian for 20 years, and I know what makes a great read-aloud!

This story about the guitar-picking little girl who grew up to inspire music legends like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard begs to be not read aloud, but performed! The energy in this picture book leaps off the page! Pair this with Rosetta’s music for an awesome listening and dancing session!

By Tonya Bolden, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rock, Rosetta, Rock! Roll, Rosetta, Roll! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

"A profile as bold and vivacious as the singer herself." -Kirkus (starred review)

"Terrific for all collections that want to inspire the musically inclined and highlight innovative pioneers." -Booklist (starred review)

"Bolden uses alliteration, assonance, repetition, and rhythm to create an irresistibly musical text that effectively communicates the feel of Tharpe's music. Christie's lively illustrations. . . capture the physicality of Tharpe's performance style and the intensity of her sound." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Impressive offering about an often-overlooked figure in American music." -The Horn Book (starred review)

"The marriage of Bolden's words and Christie's pictures is almost as satisfying…


Book cover of Spaceships Over Glasgow: Mogwai, Mayhem and Misspent Youth

Marcus Amaker Author Of Hold What Makes You Whole

From my list on an everlong fire of musical obsession.

Why am I passionate about this?

“Big Butt.” That’s all you need to know about me. It was the first song I wrote and recorded on a dusty cassette tape in 1986. I was 10 years old and an obsessive Prince fan. On the back of his records, he wrote some variation of “written, recorded, produced and performed by Prince.” Those words empowered me to be an artist. More specifically, here’s what I wrote as a 10-year-old: “When I grow up, I want to be a rock star like Prince.” Five years later, I started writing poetry, and all of the poems I wrote felt like songs. Music is the fuel for all that I create.

Marcus' book list on an everlong fire of musical obsession

Marcus Amaker Why did Marcus love this book?

The moment I realized I was getting older was the moment I put two little pieces of toilet paper in my ears in the middle of a Mogwai show in Asheville, NC.

It was the loudest show I’d ever attended. And it was phenomenal.

Mogwai has been making cinematic music for a long time, and I came into awareness of the band with 2008’s “The Hawk is Howling.” They are epic, funny, mysterious, meditative, and relentless.

It’s no surprise that  Stuart Braithwaite’s book is perfect for the Mogwai fanbase in that it gives some insight into the band’s philosophy while maintaining a sense of mystery. I also like that Braithwaite doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.

By Stuart Braithwaite,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born the son of Scotland's last telescope-maker, Stuart Braithwaite was perhaps always destined for a life of psychedelic adventuring on the furthest frontiers of noise in MOGWAI, one of the best loved and most ground-breaking post-rock bands of the past three decades.

Modestly delinquent at school, Stuart developed an early appetite for 'alternative' music in what might arguably be described as its halcyon days, the late '80s. Discovering bands like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and Jesus and Mary Chain, and attending seminal gigs (often incongruously incognito as a young girl with long hair to compensate for his babyface features)…


Book cover of Goodbye Without Leaving

JoAnneh Nagler Author Of Stay with Me, Wisconsin

From my list on sensual fiction (that doesn’t leave out the good stuff).

Why am I passionate about this?

I love realm of the sensual. I sometimes call it The Magic Kingdom—the experience that sets us apart from our childhoods and teenage years. Intimacy—not just with people or lovers, but with the stuff we love as adults—is a compelling quest. For me, it lives in writing, cooking, singing, painting, befriending, loving—the things that lift my life out of the ordinary into time-stopping moments. Sharing it my writing, especially in my new fiction (Stay with Me, Wisconsin and my upcoming novel The Seven Mile Bridge) has been an experience of helping us all get our hands and hearts and skin into the things we love and then abide there as long as life allows us.

Joanneh's book list on sensual fiction (that doesn’t leave out the good stuff)

JoAnneh Nagler Why did Joanneh love this book?

Laurie Colwin is by far my favorite fiction writer. She died in 1992 at the age of 48, and Goodbye Without Leaving is one of my all-time favorite books of hers.

In it, Geraldine Coleshares—a privileged graduate student who is unmoved by her insulated and expectation-laden world—goes on the road as backup singer for Ruby Shakely and the Shakettes—an Ike and Tina Turner-type rock and roll band.

Her parents are horrified and will barely speak to her when she calls them from the road, but there’s nothing she loves more than to stand on stage in a day-glow fringed dress, singing her heart out.

When love finds her in the form of a straight-ahead lawyer who adores her and knows every rock n roll and rhythm and blues artist from the last century, she grudgingly lets him in, and though she knows she loves him, she resists marriage at every…

By Laurie Colwin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Goodbye Without Leaving as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most beloved novels from the critically acclaimed novelist Laurie Colwin, Goodbye Without Leaving explores a woman’s attempts to reconcile her rock-and-roll past with her significantly more sedate family life as a wife and mother.

As a bored graduate student, Geraldine Colshares is plucked from her too-tame existence when she is invited to tour as the only White backup singer for Vernon and Ruby Shakely and the Shakettes. The exciting years she spends as a Shakette are a mixed blessing, however, because when she ultimately submits to a conventional life of marriage and children, she finds herself stuck…


Book cover of The Voice of Egypt, 1997: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century

Raphael Cormack Author Of Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s

From my list on popular culture along the Nile.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and an Arabic to English translator, with a PhD in Arabic Theatre from the University of Edinburgh. In recent years, I have gravitated towards the history of popular culture and the demi-monde in the Middle East. The stories of singers and dancers say much more to me than the conventional subjects of histories of the Arab world – politicians, soldiers, etc. Through them, we can see the Middle East in a way that we seldom see in the West means much more to a lot of the people who live there.

Raphael's book list on popular culture along the Nile

Raphael Cormack Why did Raphael love this book?

The essential biography of Umm Kulthum for the English reader. Danielson tells the story of the Arab world’s most famous singer, one of the greatest performers of the 20th century. This book charts her life from the small village in the Nile Delta where she grew up to the heights of global superstardom. It also paints a picture of the world that she moved through, which intersected with the world depicted in Midnight in Cairo. This is a necessary read for anyone interested in Arabic music.

By Virginia Danielson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Voice of Egypt, 1997 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Umm Kuthum was a celebrated musical performer in the Arab world, and her songs still permeate the international airwaves. This, the first English-language biography, chronicles her life and career. In particular, it examines her popularity in a society which discouraged women from public performance. The text examines the careful construction of Kulthum's popularity; from childhood her mentors honed her abilities to accord with Arab and Muslim practice, but ultimately, she created her own idiom from local precedents and traditions, and developed original song styles from both populist and neo-classical traditions. Danielson seeks to show how Umm Kulthum's music and public…


Book cover of Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop

Elayne Fluker Author Of Get Over "I Got It"

From my list on nonfiction that embody Black girl magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am all about support, and support is a big part of Black Girl Magic. I believe that every woman should have a support system and community that values each and every person in it. Many of these authors have been featured on my podcast Support is Sexy, an interview-based podcast that introduces dynamic women professionals and the stories of their journeys to my audiences around the world. I recommended the books of these women because I love their message of self-care, self-love, support, and nurturing a healthy community. 

Elayne's book list on nonfiction that embody Black girl magic

Elayne Fluker Why did Elayne love this book?

I have known the amazing author Danyel Smith for over 15 years. At first, I only knew her through her incredible writing, but I grew to know her personally when she hired me as a Managing Editor at Vibe magazine when she was the Editor-in-Chief. During that time, I was able to personally witness her knowledge of music and the entertainment industry, as well as her unwavering passion for storytelling behind the music. 

Her new book, Shine Bright, which she has been writing for more than five years, seems so fitting as part of her journey. Described as “a weave of biography, criticism, and memoir” it’s a history of Black women’s music as the foundational story of American pop.

By Danyel Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

American pop music is arguably this country’s greatest cultural contribution to the world, and its singular voice and virtuosity were created by a shining thread of Black women geniuses stretching back to the country’s founding. This is their surprising, heartbreaking, soaring story—from “one of the generation’s greatest, most insightful, most nuanced writers in pop culture” (Shea Serrano)

“Sparkling . . . the overdue singing of a Black girl’s song, with perfect pitch . . . delicious to read.”—Oprah Daily

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: NPR, Esquire, Publishers Weekly

LONGLISTED FOR THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD

A weave…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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