The most recommended books on The Rolling Stones

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to The Rolling Stones, and here are their favorite The Rolling Stones books.
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Book cover of One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time

Peter Jones Author Of Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen

From my list on musicians and music from all genres.

Who am I?

I have two major passions in life: music and writing. I started learning guitar aged 16, and my friends and I formed a band as soon as we possibly could. My first professional job was writing about pop music for a monthly magazine, and much later in life, I discovered jazz. Now I’m a bass-player, jazz singer, and composer who works with some of the finest jazz musicians in London, and I play regularly at Ronnie Scott’s club. As well as the Donald Fagen biography, I’ve also written biographies of the great jazz singers Mark Murphy (for me, the greatest of them all) and Jon Hendricks.

Peter's book list on musicians and music from all genres

Peter Jones Why did Peter love this book?

You thought you knew everything there was to know about The Beatles. I thought I did. I was wrong.

Craig Brown somehow manages to tell a very familiar story with details that either you never knew or had forgotten. He isn’t scraping the barrel: the book is full of excellent stories about the Fab Four, and sheds new light on where the band came from and where they ended up. It’s more than 600 pages long, and beautifully written, but a very easy read.

By Craig Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Two Three Four as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED for the Baillie Gifford Prize's 25th Anniversary Winner of Winners award


A Spectator Book of the Year * A Times Book of the Year * A Telegraph Book of the Year * A Sunday Times Book of the Year

From the award-winning author of Ma'am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret comes a fascinating, hilarious, kaleidoscopic biography of the Fab Four.

John Updike compared them to 'the sun coming out on an Easter morning'. Bob Dylan introduced them to drugs. The Duchess of Windsor adored them. Noel Coward despised them. JRR Tolkien…

Book cover of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville (33 1/3)

Jen B. Larson Author Of Hit Girls: Women of Punk in the USA, 1975-1983

From my list on music and memoirs about rule-breaking women.

Who am I?

In 2011, when my all-girl garage band began gigging around Chicago, I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard people call us “riot grrrl.” We weren’t riot grrrls; we were far too late for the movement. But for so many people, riot grrrl was the only reference point they had for scary, brash female musicians. The truth is, women were involved in the movement’s origins in every part of the world. I believe we must understand that riot grrrls weren’t the first women of punk. My book Hit Girls: Women of Punk in the USA, 1975-1983 details the stories of lesser-known but highly influential women who helped create punk and its adjacent genres.

Jen's book list on music and memoirs about rule-breaking women

Jen B. Larson Why did Jen love this book?

When I was 15, Liz Phair’s album Exile in Guyville completely turned me on to indie rock. Until then, everything I heard was baked for the radio. Liz’s dry, quivering voice, slipping in and out of key, singing candidly about sex and the unspeakable aspects of relationships, challenged the boys club and spoke to me in a way that Courtney Love and Shirley Manson hadn’t. I think it was her ability to tell a story, or maybe it was that nothing seemed “over-produced.” Either way, many years later, this book gave me important insights on the way Chicago indie-rock functioned in the ‘90s and how much bullshit Liz Phair had to put up with just for being herself.  

By Gina Arnold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville (33 1/3) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although Exile in Guyville was celebrated as one of the year's top records by Spin and the New York Times, it was also, to some, an abomination: a mockery of the Rolling Stones' most revered record and a rare glimpse into the psyche of a shrewd, independent, strong young woman. For these crimes, Liz Phair was run out of her hometown of Chicago, enduring a flame war perpetrated by writers who accused her of being boring, inauthentic, and even a poor musician. With Exile in Guyville, Phair spoke for all the girls who loved the world of indie rock but…

Book cover of Life

Ann Aikens Author Of A Young Woman's Guide to Life: A Cautionary Tale

From my list on funniest memoirs with advice for a happy life.

Who am I?

Raised when unsupervised kids roamed freely in the woods, my friends and I became adept at finding fun. My 20s were spent in New York in the 1980's zeitgeist of exploration and excess. A lifelong fan of comedy, I worked at the Comedy Cellar, where I booked and watched countless standup comics. Later, I left NYC’s glamor for Vermont’s nature. Since then, my Vermont newspaper column, "Upper Valley Girl," has amused and astonished (and possibly appalled) readers with humor and candor. Ever adventurous to the point of risk, making awful mistakes, and enduring impossible people, I learned limits the hard way. I advise young people not to do the same. 

Ann's book list on funniest memoirs with advice for a happy life

Ann Aikens Why did Ann love this book?

What better book for my list than one by Keith Richards titled Life?

I expected a fascinating history; I wasn’t expecting his hilarity. Often, actual humorists’ books are not well written or funny (exceptions: Billy Crystal, P.J. O’Rourke, Leslie Jones, Dave Barry, Aziz Ansari, Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca, Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris, and others).

Aside from the juicy inside info about his life and one of the best bands ever, I dug the author's thoughts about life besides sex, drugs, rock & roll, and how choirboy Keith was a talented artist who spent time in marketing (who knew?). It's not clean in language or content, but hey, it’s Keith Richards.

By Keith Richards, James Fox,

Why should I read it?

3 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 Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes: A Memoir

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

From my list on the stories behind the music.

Who am I?

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?

Gorman just wanted to play the drums in a rock band and established that so well at the beginning of this book. The ups and downs he experiences as part of a successful and talented group with two feuding brothers at the forefront is jaw-dropping. Filled with rich details and vividly dramatic scenes, the reader roots so much for him to leave the security of the band behind for happiness on his own.  

By Steve Gorman, Steven Hyden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Black Crowes drummer and cofounder Steve Gorman shares the band's inside story in this behind-the-scenes biography, from their supernova stardom in the '90s to exhilarating encounters with industry legends.
"This book is literally the Angela's Ashes of rock memoirs. .. I absolutely loved this book."

-BILL BURR, comedian

"I couldn't put the book down-absolutely unbelievable read!"

-JOHN MCENROE, New York Times bestselling author of But Seriously and You Cannot Be Serious

"I honestly couldn't put [this book] down. Made me nostalgic, sad, and happy too."

-CHRIS SHIFLETT, lead guitarist of Foo Fighters

"Essential reading for rock fans everywhere."


Book cover of Let It Bleed

Lloyd Sachs Author Of T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit

From my list on crime with soundtracks you'll want to playlist.

Who am I?

My earliest filmgoing memory is of a bad guy getting pushed down the stairs in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. That shocking scene has stayed with me, leading me into a lifetime of exploring the dark visions of crime stories. It was only natural that my love of rock music, and in its interaction with other media would draw me to mystery writers whose books were fueled by their love of rock, blues and pop. "If not for music and movies, I wouldn't be a novelist," George Pelecanos once told me. "They have influenced me more than any author. I want to shout about it." Me too.

Lloyd's book list on crime with soundtracks you'll want to playlist

Lloyd Sachs Why did Lloyd love this book?

You know an author is serious about his rock music when he names three of his novels after Rolling Stones albums. As much as I liked the Stones, growing up, my personal tastes leaned more toward the Beatles. But the more I read Scottish great Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, the more I gravitated toward Mick Jagger and the boys. When it comes to classic rock 'n' roll moments, you just can't beat the one in Let it Bleed in which down-and-out Inspector John Rebus finds solace in a Keith Richards guitar riff. "Women, relationships and colleagues had come and gone but the Stones had always been there. 'I don't have much,' Rebus thought, 'but I have this.'"

By Ian Rankin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The seventh Inspector Rebus novel from the No.1 bestselling author of A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES.
'Rankin continues to be unsurpassed among living British crime writers' THE TIMES

Struggling through another Edinburgh winter Rebus finds himself sucked into a web of intrigue that throws up more questions than answers.

Was the Lord Provost's daughter kidnapped or just another runaway? Why is a city councillor shredding documents that should have been waste paper years ago? And why on earth is Rebus invited to a clay pigeon shoot at the home of the Scottish Office's Permanent Secretary?

Sucked into the machine…

Book cover of Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman Author Of Moon: Northern California

From my list on San Francisco’s idealism, power, grit, and beauty.

Who am I?

My early memories of San Francisco in the late 1970s are anything but glamorous. We lived in a crummy apartment down the street from the People’s Temple, and my preschool, in the always gray Sunset, served carob, not chocolate. Despite decamping for the greener pastures and white sands of Carmel-By-The-Sea, I was forever hooked by the gritty magic of San Francisco. I eventually returned to the city’s foggy Richmond District, where now I ruminate on past adventures, plot new ones, and write about the place I love. I'm the author of Moon Napa Sonoma, Moon California, and Moon Northern California, and my work has appeared in 7x7, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Alaska Magazine

Elizabeth's book list on San Francisco’s idealism, power, grit, and beauty

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Dive down San Francisco’s counterculture rabbit hole with Joel Selvin, the Bay Area’s best rock journalist. Altamont chronicles the rise and fall of the infamous Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont raceway in the Bay Area’s eastern hills, which notoriously end with the murder of concertgoer Meredith Hunter by the Hells Angels. Selvin’s unvarnished coverage goes deep into the world of the 1960s rock scene where innocence and ugliness, odd allegiances, and creative force make a unique cultural moment in the Bay Area. You’ll also get to know some big names in rock, and witness the counterculture as it gets distorted and its innocence lost, as the money gets better and the drugs stronger. You’ll never listen to the Stones or the Dead the same way again.

By Joel Selvin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s. In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock-the day that shattered the Sixties' promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from…

Book cover of Never a Dull Moment: 1971 the Year That Rock Exploded

Richard J. Alley Author Of Five Night Stand

From my list on culture of mid-20th century music and musicians.

Who am I?

I was born in 1970. From my earliest memory there was music. But it’s never been just about the music, I have a natural curiosity for the people who make that music. The artist on the album cover, but also the side musicians, the producers, engineers, and promoters. I’m also fascinated by the roadmap from blues to rock to Laurel Canyon to disco to punk and on and on. Real music infuses and informs the fiction I write — by reading real-life accounts and listening to the songs, I’m put in the world from which it was all born.

Richard's book list on culture of mid-20th century music and musicians

Richard J. Alley Why did Richard love this book?

I love the idea of taking a very specific time period, in this case one year, and parsing out what happened within an art form. The evolution of pop music in 1971 was changing both the industry and the world. Throughout 12 months, we see the same characters weaving in and out — Carol King, Van Morrison, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Mick Jagger — and the way they came together and pushed apart is its own year-long miniseries. To get at how art and industry cohabitate, and how we got to the pop culture machine we know today, there is no better crash course than 1971.

By David Hepworth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Never a Dull Moment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basis for the new hit documentary 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, now streaming on Apple TV+.

A rollicking look at 1971, rock’s golden year, the year that saw the release of the indelible recordings of Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Who, Rod Stewart, Carole King, the Rolling Stones, and others and produced more classics than any other year in rock history

The Sixties ended a year late. On New Year’s Eve 1970 Paul McCartney instructed his lawyers to issue the writ at the High Court in London that effectively ended the Beatles. You might say this was…

Book cover of Garage Band Theory

Gayla M. Mills Author Of Making Music for Life: Rediscover Your Musical Passion

From my list on helping you make music.

Who am I?

After dabbling in music in my youth, I returned to playing roots music over fifteen years ago. I’ve joined music circles, jammed, made new friends, and learned a lot. My husband Gene and I have recorded three albums and played at bars, festivals, weddings, and listening rooms. Professionally, I’ve spent years as a writing teacher and writer, and I also teach at an annual folk music camp. I wanted to share the joys of music with others, so I talked with dozens of musicians, dug down to find rare resources, and pulled it together into Making Music for Life to make it easier for others to pursue their own musical journey.

Gayla's book list on helping you make music

Gayla M. Mills Why did Gayla love this book?

This is the best book I’ve seen on understanding music in a practical, accessible way, with an accompanying website full of free support materials such as audio files, music scores, and a huge variety of songs across genres and instruments. It’s aimed at those who play by ear, back-porch pickers, semi-pros, and pros. I’ve tried learning theory in many ways, from college classes to online courses, but I found the approach of this book the best, and I imagine learning from it for years to come.

By Duke Sharp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For less than the price of a single lesson, Garage Band Theory offers a lifetime of learning.

It's a gift that keeps giving.

GBT covers everything you need to understand, play and make your own music!

• lets you listen to hundreds of examples for every instrument.

• combines the freedom of playing by ear and the strength of traditional music theory.

• assumes you know nothing about basic theory and is written in a conversational, easy to follow style.

There are hundreds of exercises and examples using familiar songs and with the free downloads on the book's website, you…

Book cover of Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader

Ljubinko Zivkovic

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

Who am I?

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?

Late Lester Bangs is probably the first name that comes to my mind when piercing, observant rock criticism is concerned, but it seems his books are currently collecting dust somewhere, even though they have not lost any of their relevance.

He is also one of the authors that not only shaped my personal views on music, but also the style of writing I’m trying to pursue.

By Lester Bangs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before his untimely death in 1982, Lester Bangs was inarguably the most influential critic of rock and roll. Writing in hyper-intelligent Benzedrine prose that calls to mind Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, he eschewed all conventional thinking as he discussed everything from Black Sabbath being the first truly Catholic band to Anne Murray’s smoldering sexuality. In Mainlines, Blood Feasts, Bad Taste fellow rock critic John Morthland has compiled a companion volume to Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, the first, now classic collection of Bangs’s work. Here are excerpts from an autobiographical piece Bangs wrote as a teenager, travel essays,…