100 books like The Commitments

By Roddy Doyle,

Here are 100 books that The Commitments fans have personally recommended if you like The Commitments. 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 Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk

Elyssa Goodman Author Of Glitter and Concrete: A Cultural History of Drag in New York City

From my list on living a glittering life in New York City.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love of New York City began at a young age–my parents were from Queens and the Bronx, and they always spoke about it with such adoration. As a young person in high school, I ached to get out of South Florida and find my way to the city they described in such loving detail. I began reading about it within the topics that interested me–music, art, fashion, performance, and more–and this beautiful world opened up, full of creative possibilities. I moved to New York in 2010 and have been writing about it and photographing it ever since for a host of publications.

Elyssa's book list on living a glittering life in New York City

Elyssa Goodman Why did Elyssa love this book?

This book became a bible for me as a young person deciding what my future would look like, and I never forgot, as a suburban high school student, how magical New York felt on the page and how much I wanted to be there with this cast of characters.

The New York that lives on these pages, all guts and grunge and glitter, is the New York I see in my dreams and was delighted to cite in my book as well. 

By Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Please Kill Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the true story of a misunderstood culture phenomenon, one embracing Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, The New York Dolls, The Clash and The Damned. It is a story of sex, drugs and rock and roll, documenting a time of glorious self-destruction and perverse innocence - punk was possibly the last time so many people will have had so much fun killing themselves. Legs McNeil, founder of "Punk" magazine has interviewed those who were members of the punk scene, from the brightest stars to the most observant groupies.


Book cover of How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back

Rich Maloof Author Of Jim Marshall - The Father of Loud: The Story of the Man Behind the World's Most Famous Guitar Amplifiers

From my list on books by musicians, for musicians.

Why am I passionate about this?

My tenure as editor-in-chief of Guitar magazine is well behind me now, but it always lights me up to create content for musicians, and to absorb it. These are my people, you see, a community of curious, empathic, chronically late daydreamers and night owls, good listeners all. I’m not qualified to comment on Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory or Stravinsky’s Poetics of Music, but neither do I want to talk about rock-star memoirs or fawning fictionalizations. No fanfare here, thank you. Instead, these are five books in which musicians may recognize some element of their creative self and come away with a little more fuel for the fire.

Rich's book list on books by musicians, for musicians

Rich Maloof Why did Rich love this book?

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy really, really wants everyone to write a song, and I find it terribly endearing.

I picked up his handbook amid a COVID-era creative block, and with Jeff as my songwriting sherpa, I was eventually able to drop some baggage and make my way up. I had already known that music would pay me back for the effort, but Jeff (I think he’d want me to call him Jeff) patiently walks through directly applicable strategies such as word-laddering, stealing, and the Dadaist cut-up technique for lyric writing.

His encouraging nudge made it easier to leave self-judgment and even good sense behind.

By Jeff Tweedy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How to Write One Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A ROUGH TRADE and PITCHORK BOOK OF THE YEAR

'A guide to rediscovering the joys of creating that we all felt as children.'
NEW YORK TIMES

One of the century's most feted singer-songwriters, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, digs deep into his own creative process to share his unique perspective about song-writing and offers a warm, accessible guide to writing your first song, championing the importance of making creativity part of your everyday life and experiencing the hope, inspiration and joy that accompanies it.

'Fascinating.' ROUGH TRADE
'Eloquent.' INDEPENDENT
'Nourishing.' PITCHFORK
'A proselytiser for the act of songcraft.' FINANCIAL TIMES
'A smart,…


Book cover of Daisy Jones & The Six

David Starkey Author Of Poor Ghost

From my list on books about Rock and Roll that really rock.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started singing and playing guitar in garage bands in high school, about the same time that I began thinking of myself as a serious writer, so for me the two endeavors have always gone hand in hand. Over the decades, I’ve continued to write creatively—while teaching thousands of students along the way—and also to play in a number of bands that have specialized in everything from country-folk to raucous punk. Like many writer-musicians, I love reading good stories about the challenges and joys of people joining together, and falling apart, as they attempt to transcend ordinary life through the power of music.

David's book list on books about Rock and Roll that really rock

David Starkey Why did David love this book?

Taylor Jenkins Reid is not the first or only person to adapt the nonfiction oral history format into a work of fiction, but she does it with the most panache.

Loosely based on the mid-seventies romance between Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, Daisy Jones & the Six offers a nonstop procession of drama and conflict, but there’s a tender heart beating at its center and a heartbreaking reveal at the end.

By Taylor Jenkins Reid,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Daisy Jones & The Six as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SOON TO BE AN AMAZON PRIME TV SERIES STARRING SAM CLAFLIN, RILEY KEOUGH AND CAMILA MORRONE

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the author of THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO and the bestselling MALIBU RISING

'I LOVE it . . . I can't remember the last time I read a book that was so fun' DOLLY ALDERTON

Everybody knows Daisy Jones and the Six.

From the moment Daisy walked barefoot on to the stage at the Whisky, she and the band were a sensation.

Their sound defined an era. Their albums were on every turntable. They…


We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

Book cover of We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

Amy T. Waldman

New book alert!

What is my book about?

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus atUW-Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Jest established lasting friendships with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and others, but ultimately, this book tells a universal story of love and hope – about figuring out where you belong, finding your way there, and living a life that matters.

We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

What is this book about?

The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established…


Book cover of The Disenchantments

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 a certain sense, musicians are like athletes. The vast majority will never come close to turning pro, but they continue to do it for the love of the experience. I like this book because it focuses on a group of young people at a crossroads in their lives and their relationships with each other. They decide to kick around one summer on a low-profile band tour of the Pacific Northwest. Not concerned with record deals or writing hit songs, they just play music because they can, and why not? Along the way, they discover a realization about who they are as individuals and the different directions they might be going in as they mature.

By Nina Lacour,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Disenchantments as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning, bestselling author of Hold Still and We Are Okay.
(Cover may vary)

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of…


Book cover of How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

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?

You've read it all before. The standard trope of a rockstar genius turned slow-motion trainwreck through drug-fueled self-indulgence has become all too common in music fiction. The truth is a successful career in the music business requires lots of hard work and smart decision-making. This is especially so in today's world of rapidly shifting technological and social dynamics. Herstand, in plain language, tells it like it is, offering both a sobering assessment of the many challenges you'll face, but also practical real-world advice on how to overcome them. Even if you have no intention of becoming a musician, it's an eye-opener into how the modern business works.

By Ari Herstand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make It in the New Music Business as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to Make It in the New Music Business has become the go-to resource for "do it yourself" musicians eager to make a living in a turbulent industry. Inspiring thousands to stop waiting around for that "big break", Ari Herstand returns, maintaining that a stable career can be built by taking advantage of the tools at our fingertips. Including the latest trends and developments in the bustling UK music scene, he offers inspiring success stories across media. With the overarching theme of making real connections with human beings, it is a must-have for anyone navigating the complex yet advantageous modern…


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…


Book cover of Life

Jim Wilson Author Of Tuned In: Memoirs of a Piano Man: Behind the Scenes with Music Legends and Finding the Artist Within

From my list on memoirs that deal with overcoming adversity to inspiring results.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a piano technician who’s had the incredible fortune of getting to know and work for just about all my childhood heroes. I’m also a recording artist who’s produced several recordings that have made it into the Billboard Top 20, had two PBS specials, and whose music has been streamed over 75 million times around the globe. At the beginning of the pandemic, I began putting pen to paper to share some of the extraordinary experiences I’ve had with music icons and how being in that jet stream helped me tune in to my mission as an artist. 

Jim's book list on memoirs that deal with overcoming adversity to inspiring results

Jim Wilson Why did Jim love this book?

As a Stones fan, I naturally loved the origin story of when Keith met Mick and bonded over their love of blues music. And I was captivated by all the behind-the-scenes tales of writing all those immortal classics (“Satisfaction,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Angie”? I mean, come on!)

But more importantly, I was profoundly moved by Keith’s unflinching candor. Who knew he was such an incredible storyteller? His disarming honesty about everything from his substance abuse to his infidelities left a lasting impression on me and inspired me to be more fearless and take my writing to the next level.

By Keith Richards, James Fox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the riffs, the lyrics, and the songs that roused the world. A true and towering original, he has always walked his own path, spoken his mind, and done things his own way.Now at last Richards pauses to tell his story in the most anticipated autobiography in decades. And what a story! Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records in a coldwater flat with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, building a sound and a band out of music they loved. Finding fame and success as a bad-boy band, only…


Book cover of Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music

David Starkey Author Of Poor Ghost

From my list on books about Rock and Roll that really rock.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started singing and playing guitar in garage bands in high school, about the same time that I began thinking of myself as a serious writer, so for me the two endeavors have always gone hand in hand. Over the decades, I’ve continued to write creatively—while teaching thousands of students along the way—and also to play in a number of bands that have specialized in everything from country-folk to raucous punk. Like many writer-musicians, I love reading good stories about the challenges and joys of people joining together, and falling apart, as they attempt to transcend ordinary life through the power of music.

David's book list on books about Rock and Roll that really rock

David Starkey Why did David love this book?

The book begins with short chapters on a couple of blues players—Harmonica Frank and the mysterious Robert Johnson, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil so he could play guitar—before moving to extended chapters on Elvis, and others.

Marcus’s project is to cross-reference American history with American music and to try and make sense of them both. It sounds like something an academic would get up to, and plenty of research went into the making of Mystery Train (at 224 pages, the Notes and Discographies section of the 2015 edition is considerably longer than the original book).

However, Marcus is one of the great rock writers, and he’s as keen on crafting unforgettable sentences as he is in explaining the meaning of rock and roll.

By Greil Marcus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The perfect gift for music fans and anyone who loves artists like Elvis Presley, Randy Newman, Sly Stone, Robert Johnson, and Harmonica Frank.

In 1975, Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train changed the way readers thought about rock ’n’ roll and continues to be sought out today by music fans and anyone interested in pop culture. Looking at recordings by six key artists—Robert Johnson, Harmonica Frank, Randy Newman, the Band, Sly Stone, and Elvis Presley—Marcus offers a complex and unprecedented analysis of the relationship between rock ‘n’ roll and American culture. In this latest edition, Marcus provides an extensively updated and rewritten…


Book cover of Slash

Margot Leitman Author Of Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You'll Ever Need

From my list on the stories behind the music.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid, my biggest escape was my father’s record collection. Growing up in 1990s NJ, music was a huge part of my experience. Springsteen was from a few miles south, Bon Jovi was from the town next to mine, and Whitney Houston was from the same state but a different county. Music told stories. Inspired my the music of my youth, I now make my living as a storyteller— I tell stories onstage, write books about storytelling and teach others how to tell stories effectively. I have no musical gifts except for the mass consumption of any book with juicy tales about the world of music. Here are a few of my favorites.

Margot's book list on the stories behind the music

Margot Leitman Why did Margot love this book?

Well, no one ever said Guns N Roses was boring. Slash’s book is one that could be read in one sitting then quickly passed to a friend so you can dish the behind-the-scenes details together. Slash is a fun narrator for a story that is wild, tragic, and inspiring all at once.

By Slash, Anthony Bozza,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It seems excessive...but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

The mass of black curls. The top hat. The cigarette dangling from pouty lips. These are the trademarks of one of the world's greatest and most revered guitarists, a celebrity musician known by one name: Slash.

Saul "Slash" Hudson was born in Hampstead to a Jewish father and a black American mother who created David Bowie's look in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He was raised in Stoke until he was 11, when he and his mother moved to LA. Frequent visitors to the house were David Bowie, Joni Mitchell,…


Book cover of On the Road: Recording the Stars in a Golden Era of Live Music

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

From my list on die-hard rockers.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

David Hewitt’s On the Road: Recording the Stars in a Golden Era of Live Music is an important contribution to the extensive annals of popular music history in that it focuses on the business of live recording that was an integral component to the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll from the 1960s through the 1980s. Hewitt was a top live recording engineer and his expertise permeates the pages of the richly detailed book.

By David W. Hewitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book tells the story of a life spent on the road recording the rich diversity of music in America when it was a major part of our lives, not just digital background noise. For music fans, there was a golden era of live music, stretching from the 1960s through the 1980s, and even evolving into the 1990s, if you want to be generous.

In the pre-digital era, music fans spent a large part of their free time (and money) listening to their favorite artist’s recordings. It was an analog world so if they wanted to hear the music, they…


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