Female Rockstars Tell Their Stories in These Books
If you search for music memoirs, you'll find yourself inundated with bestselling books from rock legends: Nikki Sixx, Keith Richards, Marilyn Manson, Anthony Kiedis, Johnny Cash. Music memoirs by women may be few and far between, but they're growing in number; the good ladies of rock-and-roll are making up for lost time.
Patti Smith's memoir, Just Kids, brought home the National Book Award when it was published in 2010. Its success opened doors for music memoirs by women to finally hit store shelves. Of the books on this list, only two predate Smith's bestseller.
Although Just Kids undoubtedly changed the way the publishing industry views female musicians' books, it didn't do it alone. Three of the titles on this list were published in the 12 months following the release of Smith's memoir. Put simply: 2010 was a great year for music memoirs by women.
These are the stories of the women who made up the soundtracks to our childhoods. From 1960s R&B to the Riot Grrrl movement and beyond, each of the artists, groups, and bands featured here changed the face of music for women to follow. Laugh, cry, and don't forget to sing along. Here are the 12 best music memoirs by women.
Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon
Who was so vain that they probably thought that song was about them? We might actually find out in Carly Simon's upcoming memoir, Boys in the Trees. Fans have been speculating about the "You're So Vain" subject's identity for the last 43 years. Publisher Flatiron Books is keeping mum as to whether Boys in the Trees will include the juicy tidbit or not, so we'll all have to wait until November 24 to find out.
Coal to Diamonds by Beth Ditto
Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto's 2012 memoir, Coal to Diamonds, will be instantly relatable to anyone who grew up feminist in the rural South. From late-'80s fat-positivity to curating your own image, this is everything you'd want in an offbeat music memoir.
Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel
Singer-songwriter Jewel made headlines when she opened up about the sexual harassment she's endured since the unbefrickinlievable age of 8. Her recent memoir, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, delves further into the dark subject, but focuses more on her journey from relative unknown, to homeless, to America's sweetheart.
Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh
Kristin Hersh founded East Coast post-punk band Throwing Muses in the mid-1980s. Rat Girl follows the band from initial encounters with fame through signing a deal and recording their self-titled first album. It only takes a year, but it's an emotionally-charged read.
Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette by Ronnie Spector
Chronicling her marriage to the infamous Phil Spector and failed attempts to revive interest in The Ronettes in the late '70s and early '80s, Ronnie Spector tells her story with gusto in Be My Baby.
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
Girl in a Band is the much-talked-about title from Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon. From a failed marriage to the inner workings of '80s and '90s music circles, Gordon's memoir will keep your attention until the last page.
A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth
Who doesn't love Kristin Chenoweth? She's a compact powerhouse with a voice the size of Oklahoma and attitude to match. If you loved her in Wicked, Pushing Daisies, or The West Wing, pick up Chenoweth's 2010 memoir.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is the most-talked-about memoir of 2015. Gen-Xers know her from Sleater-Kinney, and Millennials know her from Portlandia, but Carrie Brownstein is so much more than all that. She's a writer, a musician, and actress and a pretty awesome human being.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine
Before Bikini Kill, there was The Slits. In Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys., Slits guitarist Viv Albertine takes on U.K. patriarchy, Sid Vicious, and growing up punk.
M Train by Patti Smith
The follow-up to her smash hit, Just Kids, Patti Smith's M Train reveals her life with husband Fred, her love of literature, and the cafe where she takes her morning coffee. It's memoir told in classic form, so don't miss it.
Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn
In Coal Miner's Daughter, country music superstar Loretta Lynn recounts being an impoverished child in Butcher Holler, KY, a 13-year-old bride, a grandmother before the age of 30, and one of the most famous singer-songwriters in country music history.
Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie
The memoir that inspired the Runaways biopic, Neon Angel is Cherie Currie's story of heading a groundbreaking '70s rock band, being besties with Joan Jett, and rising above drugs and alcohol to come out on top. If you want to read about real-life teenagers kicking ass, this is the book you need.