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2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

The best music-related memoirs and other novels available this holiday season

book gift guide
Illustration by Steven Fiche
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    The holidays are right around the corner, and in many parts of the world, it’s also hunkering-down season. Meaning: the perfect time to stay inside with a cozy blanket, hot beverage of your choice, and a good book.

    As you check off your holiday gift shopping list for 2021, whether you’re in search of a music-related tome for a loved one, need inspiration for your wishlist, or just enjoy scrolling through gift guides (it’s fun, okay?) Consequence is helping narrow down your search.

    Here, you’ll find our picks for the best books to give music lovers this year, especially if they happen to be a fan of artists like Japanese Breakfast, Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, or Bruce Springsteen.

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    Check out the full gift guide below.


    Michelle Zauner – Crying in H Mart

    crying in h mart 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    This New York Times best-selling memoir from Michelle Zauner, who performs as Japanese Breakfast, is a great gift even for those who aren’t familiar with her music. It’s a moving story of grief, family and food, as Zauner told Consequence earlier this year: “Cooking became this private ritual that I could interact with for half an hour or a couple hours, to just quietly commemorate my mom and take that time.”

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    Dan Ozzi – SELLOUT

     2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    For fans of the punk and hardcore scene — or music history lovers — SELLOUT: The Major Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994–2007) is a wonderful deep dive into the rising punk rock scene of the ‘90s. With original interviews from notable modern punk rock bands like Green Day, blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, and more, author Dan Ozzi details the challenges that the ‘90s DIY punk scene faced as bands struggled to choose between rising to the top or adhering to their roots.

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    Dave Grohl – The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music

     2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Rock legend David Grohl has transitioned from writing music to writing stories in his book The Storyteller. In the New York Times bestseller, Grohl provides a deep dive on his life, from his early days growing up in Virginia, to Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and everything in between.

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    Robby Krieger – Set the Night on Fire

     2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    For any lovers of The Doors, or rock and blues fans in general, Robby Krieger’s memoir Set the Night on Fire: Living, Dying, and Playing Guitar With the Doors is a must-read. The legendary guitarist reveals a glimpse into the ‘60s counterculture with his stories of The Doors’ first gigs to their rise in the rock scene, as well as more personal details of his struggles with addiction and his battle with cancer.

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    Andrew McMahon – Three Pianos: A Memoir

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    three pianos 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon, who performs both solo and under the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, shares an intimately personal account of his life. He details growing up as a child musician prodigy, and discusses hardships, such as his battle with leukemia at age 23. The piano was there for him through it all, and McMahon shares the ways music can help us to heal and understand what matters most.

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    Raekwon – From Staircase to Stage

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    FROM STAIRCASE TO STAGE cover image final 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Wu-Tang Clan founding member Raekwon The Chef has been an inspiration in hip-hop for decades, and has now brought his skills on the mic to his own memoir. In From Staircase to Stage: The Story of Raekwon and the Wu-Tang Clan, Raekwon explores the roots of Wu-Tang Clan and his rise to stardom, from struggling to make ends meet to selling out stadiums around the world.

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    Andrew Norlen – When the Lights Are Bright Again

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    when the lights are bright again 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    For the theater kid in your life, Andrew Norlen’s photo book would pair great alongside tickets to a show. When the Lights Are Bright Again: Letters and images of loss, hope, and resilience from the theater community explores the grief and hope of the theater community as it experienced the loss of live performances due to COVID-19, and how the resulting heartbreak changed performers and fans to the core. The book serves as a unique outlet of expression for the theater community, and for every copy purchased, a portion of the profits will directly benefit The Actors Fund.

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    Paul McCartney and Paul Muldoon – The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present

    paul mccartney 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Spanning 64 years and 154 songs, The Lyrics makes a great gift for lovers of Paul McCartney, The Beatles, or anyone looking for an impressive coffee table book. McCartney offers a look into his songwriting processes, with previously unseen archival visuals, notes, and stories.

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    Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen – Renegades: Born in the USA

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     2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    At a glance, Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen may not seem to have a lot in common, but their mutual love for America, and their desire to better understand and improve it, is just the start of the compelling conversations that they have. For fans of The Boss or music lovers like Obama, Renegades Born in the USA is a great expansion on their Higher Ground podcast, with exclusive new material from Obama’s speeches, to handwritten Springsteen lyrics.

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    T-PAIN – Can I Mix You a Drink?

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    tpain 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Who better to curate a book of mixed drinks than T-Pain? The rapper turned to experts like James Beard Award-winning beverage professional and entrepreneur Maxwell Britten to curate unique cocktails that reflect his hit songs, while including a playlist for each flavor. For cocktail enthusiasts, this book is sure to be a hit.

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    Bob Spitz – Led Zeppelin: The Biography

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     2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    With Bob Spitz’s candid and captivating style of storytelling, he gives a new account of Led Zeppelin in this biography. For lovers of rock and roll who are always looking for another perspective on the genre, Led Zeppelin is a wonderful gift, as it details the history of the legendary group and how they took everything to the next level.

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    Kelsea Ballerini – Feel Your Way Through: A Book of Poetry

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    FEEL YOUR WAY THROUGH 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini has turned to poetry as a form of catharsis and exploration of her artistry. Ballerini beautifully and honestly navigates the challenges of young adulthood and womanhood in her poetry series.

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    Billy Porter – Unprotected: A Memoir

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    Unprotected46192JF 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    For lovers of pop culture, Pose star Billy Porter’s memoir is a must read. The multitalented actor tells an inspiring story of celebrating who he is, and details deep challenges and traumas alongside his learning to channel all of it into his craft.

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    Questlove – Music Is History

    MusicIsHistory51431JF 2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Questlove’s Music Is History is the perfect gift for any history, music, or pop culture lover. In his New York Times bestseller, The Roots star explores history through the lens of music since the 1970s and its social and political impact.

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    They Might Be Giants – BOOK

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     2021 Gift Guide: 15 Books to Give Music Lovers This Year

    Alongside their new album Book, They Might Be Giants have released a book project that makes for a unique and special gift. The exclusive release features lyrics set in concrete poetry by Paul Sahre, and original art connecting to the new album. As John Linnell told Consequence, “[We] felt like there’s a lot of things now that bands put out that feel so ephemeral, because it’s all online and there generally isn’t a physical object anymore.”

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