The most recommended Bob Dylan books

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to Bob Dylan, and here are their favorite Bob Dylan books.
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Book cover of The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-On Collision of Rock and Commerce

Jeff Apter Author Of Bad Boy Boogie: The true story of AC / DC legend Bon Scott

From my list on rock and roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian author, staring down the barrel of middle age. I’ve been writing about music for the past 30 years. I’ve written 25 books; my subjects have included Keith Urban, the Bee Gees, Angus and Malcolm Young, Daniel Johns of Silverchair, among others. During my career, I’ve also had interesting encounters with such legends as Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Helen Reddy. I live (currently in lockdown, yet again) with my very tolerant wife, my two children, and a house full of animals. (Real animals, that is, not the kids.)

Jeff's book list on rock and roll

Jeff Apter Why did Jeff love this book?

It’s a real insider’s view of what it took to make turn such artists as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen into money-spinning superstars. Interestingly, some of the back-room kingmakers — Albert Grossman, David Geffen, and the rest of them — prove to be just as interesting and complicated as the music makers they represented.

By Fred Goodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1964, on the brink of the British Invasion, the music business in America shunned rock and roll. There was no rock press, no such thing as artist management -- literally no rock-and-roll business. Today the industry will gross over $20 billion. How did this change happen?

From the moment Pete Seeger tried to cut the power at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival debut of Bob Dylan's electric band, rock's cultural influence and business potential have been grasped by a rare assortment of ambitious and farsighted musicians and businessmen. Jon Landau took calls from legendary producer Jerry Wexler in his…


Book cover of Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead

Stuart Coupe Author Of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

From my list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist).

Why am I passionate about this?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.

Stuart's book list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist)

Stuart Coupe Why did Stuart love this book?

The subtitle tells you all you really need to know. Kreutzmann was a founding member of the Grateful Dead and there for the whole long, strange trip and – to date – the only band member to pen an insider’s account of exactly what it’s like to be a member of The Grateful Dead. He tells a good story and if the Grateful Dead loom as large in your life as they do mine – well, just image a memoir written by Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts. Drummers sit there doing their stuff – and they see everything.

By Bill Kreutzmann, Benjy Eisen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Grateful Dead are perhaps the most legendary American rock band of all time. For thirty years, beginning in the hippie scene of San Francisco in 1965, they were a musical institution, the original jam band that broke new ground in so many ways. Bill Kreutzmann, one of their founding members and drummer for every one of their over 2,300 concerts, has written an unflinching and wild account of playing in the greatest improvisational band of all time. Everything a rock music fan would expect is here, but what sets this apart is Bill's incredible life of adventure that was…


Book cover of Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead

Stuart Coupe Author Of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

From my list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist).

Why am I passionate about this?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.

Stuart's book list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist)

Stuart Coupe Why did Stuart love this book?

As good a history of the Dead as you’re likely to find. Scully spent nearly two decades as close to the band as you could get without actually being a member. Great stories and anecdotes and a wonderfully drawn and evocative history of the band from their very early acid-drenched days in the 1960s through to their evolution as one of the most important and loved bands in American music history.

By Rock Scully, David Dalton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a manager for the Grateful Dead, Rock Scully was with the band from its early days in San Francisco to the years it spent touring the globe as one of the most enduring legends in music history. In Living with the Dead , Scully gives a complete account of his outrageous experiences with the band, during years that saw the Grateful Dead transform from a folksy revivalist band to psychedelic explorers of outer space. In addition to close-up portraits of band members Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Pigpen, Phil Lesh, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, Scully brings into the story…


Book cover of Garcia: An American Life

Stuart Coupe Author Of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

From my list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist).

Why am I passionate about this?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.

Stuart's book list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist)

Stuart Coupe Why did Stuart love this book?

This is a big, sprawling biography of the heart and soul of The Grateful Dead - guitarist, songwriter, and troubled musical genius Jerry Garcia. Jackson did his research, interviewing over a hundred people including Garcia, his friends, lovers, and bandmates. Plus he went through thousands of source material documents and probably listened to thousands of concert tapes and recordings. He knows the Dead. He loves the Dead. And he captures the essence of Garcia superbly. It’s been called a definitive portrait and it is.

By Blair Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Examines the life and times of Jerry Garcia, capturing the psychedelic world of the musician and songwriter, his relationship with members of the Grateful Dead, his battle with drug addiction, and his lasting influence on popular music.


Book cover of Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947-1977

Bob Beatty Author Of Play All Night! Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East

From my list on the crossroads of music, culture, history, and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

An academically trained historian, I'm a Music Obsessive/History Geek/Southerner/Guitarist/Public Historian/Teacher/Interpreter/Writer/Fan who studies the intersection of music, culture, history, and place. I grew up devouring Mom’s Beatles and Dad’s country records. My life changed in 6th grade when I got my first guitar and discovered the blues. In 7th grade I wrote a research paper on the hippies. That’s when I fell in love with the counterculture. Throughout my life I’ve interwoven my love of the blues, punk rock, the Allman Brothers Band, and the Jam Depression collective as a historian, fan, and musician. My enduring passion culminated in a Ph.D. and the publication of Play All Night! Duane Allman and the Journey to Fillmore East. 

Bob's book list on the crossroads of music, culture, history, and place

Bob Beatty Why did Bob love this book?

Flowers in the Dustbin uses an approach I dearly love: the vignette. Miller deftly selects stories that tie together a larger narrative of “where rock & roll came from—and what it came to do.” 

The book begins with the birth of rhythm & blues through one of its earliest stars, Wynonie Harris. Subsequent stories in chapter one weave together the impacts of technology, the Great Migration, racial dynamics, a booming economy, and an emerging youth culture. It culminates in Elvis’s earliest recordings, the so-called birth of rock & roll. All in the first chapter!

In the story that follows, Miller demonstrates why rock & roll emerged and how it reflected and shaped the social, cultural, and political landscape.

Crossroads: Race, Postwar America, Youth culture

By James Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A prizewinning historian and journalist who has covered the pop music scene for more than three decades, James Miller brings a powerful and challenging intellectual perspective to his recounting of some key turning points in the history of rock. Arguing that the music underwent its full creative evolution in little more than twenty-five years, he traces its roots from the jump blues of the forties to the disc jockeys who broadcast the music in the early fifties. He shows how impresarios such as Alan Freed and movie directors such as Richard Brooks (of Blackboard Jungle) joined black music to white…


Book cover of What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence

Rica Keenum Author Of Petals of Rain: A Mother's Memoir

From my list on for daughters with toxic or complicated mothers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, my mother refused to acknowledge that my stepfather sexually abused me for many years. I was forced to call him “Dad” and I was told to “forgive and forget.” It took me decades to understand that while I could teach my mind to deny my pain and grief, trauma stayed embedded within my heart and shaped my life, relationships, internal beliefs, and decisions. After a triggering event, it ultimately morphed into depression, which I’m now battling in my forties. Having written two memoirs on the impact of trauma, I am only now finding the wisdom and courage to distance myself from my mother and stepfather. The books I’ve recommended have brought me comfort and a sense of relief. 

Rica's book list on for daughters with toxic or complicated mothers

Rica Keenum Why did Rica love this book?

This vulnerable collection of essays drew me in with the words, “Our mothers are our first homes, and that’s why we’re always trying to return to them.” As I continued to read, I had the eerie feeling that the author had read my diary (although I don’t actually have a diary), had met my mother, and had lived my life in so many ways. And while this book contains stories from many authors, the single thread of longing for mothers who’ve loved and hurt us ties them together seamlessly. They are beautifully expressed, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes humorous, but ultimately worthy of savoring. 

By Michele Filgate (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What My Mother and I Don't Talk About as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In the early 2000's, as an undergraduate, Michele Filgate started writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather. It took many years for her to realize what she was actually trying to write about: the fracture this caused in her relationship with her mother. When her essay, "What My Mother and I Don't Talk About," was published by Longreads in October of 2017, it went on to become one of the most popular Longreads exclusives of the year and was shared on social media by Anne Lamott, Rebecca Solnit, Lidia Yuknavitch, and other writers, some of whom had their…


Book cover of Bob Dylan: No Direction Home

Ray Foulk Author Of Stealing Bob Dylan from Woodstock: When the World Came to the Isle of Wight. Volume 1

From my list on Bob Dylan.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 23 I brought Bob Dylan to the Isle of Wight to play the 1969 festival. In my naivety when making the bid I knew nothing about the sixties superstar but by the time he accepted the invitation I had soaked up all that was generally known of his music and backstory. Through the decades since I have closely followed Dylan’s remarkable career and written about his indispensable place in the counterculture. I am an architect and author working in Oxford.

Ray's book list on Bob Dylan

Ray Foulk Why did Ray love this book?

Among the 1,000 plus books about Bob Dylan this is the closest we have to a full authorised biography. Robert Shelton was with the artist from the beginning in 1961, witnessing all the controversial concerts. No Direction Home is the definitive biography, written with Dylan’s blessing and co-operation and with favoured access to original sources. This beautifully illustrated 2011 edition, edited By Elizabeth Thomson and Patrick Humphries, is an update of the original 1986 standard.

By Robert Shelton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This lavishly illustrated and thoughtfully abridged edition of THE classic book on Dylan—published to coincide with Dylan’s 80th birthday (May 24, 1941)—is a must for all Dylan aficionados.

Robert Shelton met Bob Dylan when the young singer arrived in New York in 1960, becoming Dylan’s friend, champion, and critic. Shelton’s book No Direction Home, first published in 1986, was hailed as the definitive unauthorized biography of this complex, passionate genius, and is the only one written with the subject’s active cooperation. Dylan gave Shelton access to his parents, his brother, and his childhood friends, among others. No Direction Home took…


Book cover of Confessions of a Yakuza: A Life in Japan's Underworld

Howard Sounes Author Of This Woman: Myra Hindley’s Prison Love Affair and Escape Attempt

From my list on biographies to put you in the mind of a criminal.

Why am I passionate about this?

The author of biographies, histories, and true crime books, Howard Sounes is best-known for Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, now in an updated edition; Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life; and Fred & Rose, the bestselling story of married English serial killers Fred and Rose West. Other books include Amy, 27, Seventies, Heist, and biographies of Paul McCartney and Lou Reed.

Howard's book list on biographies to put you in the mind of a criminal

Howard Sounes Why did Howard love this book?

A doctor interviews an elderly Japanese yakuza (gangster) as he recalls his life. Adhering to his own criminal code, the yakuza exudes a wayward nobility as he discusses the choices he made. Bob Dylan saw romance in this and quoted from the yakuza’s dialogue on his album, Love and Theft.

By Junichi Saga, John Bester (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the true story, as told to the doctor who looked after him just before he died, of the life of one of the last traditional yakuza in Japan. It wasn't a good' life, in either sense of the word, but it was an adventurous one; and the tale he has to tell presents an honest and oddly attractive picture of an insider in that separate, unofficial world.
In his low, hoarse voice, he describes the random events that led the son of a prosperous country shopkeeper to become a member, and ultimately the leader, of a gang organizing…


Book cover of Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes

Ljubinko Zivkovic

From my list on music in the late sixties and seventies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Popular music in all its shapes and forms has permeated my life since my pre-teen years and has remained both an intimate and professional preoccupation of mine throughout my life, even when I was doing other things professionally. Books dealing with all aspects of music, from artist biographies to its cultural and social examinations have been and remain that essential element that both fuel and satisfy that interest and give it that expanded feature it needs. As somebody who has a degree in journalism and had careers as a journalist, diplomat, and a translator, and now as a freelance writer, music and books on music remain that thread that connects them all.

Ljubinko's book list on music in the late sixties and seventies

Ljubinko Zivkovic Why did Ljubinko love this book?

Greil Marcus is one of those authors that does not only look at music as an isolated phenomenon, but also details its cultural, social as well as political background. In Invisible Republic he covers the phenomenon of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, both from their musical but also cultural aspects.

By Greil Marcus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Focuses on the production of the Basement Tapes, the suppressed recordings made by Bob Dylan and The Band in 1967 in Big Pink, Woodstock. This book returns to the folk/mythological preoccupations of Greil Marcus's "Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music".


Book cover of Music Legends: 40 inspiring icons

Fanny Britt Author Of Forever Truffle

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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)…