Music gift guide: Books

Al Yankovic
Al YankovicChad Batka

“Rod: The Autobiography,” by Rod Stewart With easy-going charm and wit, the singer-songwriter recounts his life, from his birth during The Blitz, through his hit-laden half-century career, to his headlining residencies in Las Vegas. The book includes a listing of Stewart’s discography, glossy-paged inserts of career-spanning photos, and delightfully tongue-in-cheek chapter subtitles.

“Waging Heavy Peace,” Neil Young; “Neil Young: The Definitive History,” by Mike Evans Get immersed in the life and work of Neil Young, from both an outsider’s perspective and the songsmith’s own. “Definitive History” is a hefty, fully illustrated tome that lives up to its name, while the memoir “Waging Heavy Peace” gives Young a chance to share his eccentricities and musings.


“Adele: A Celebration of an Icon and Her Music,” by Sarah-Louise James Over 176 pages, the glossy book explores the inspiration behind Adele’s chart-topping hits. With more than 125 full-color photographs of the superstar, the pictorial offers a literal behind-the-scenes view of Adele’s road to success.

Ann & Nancy Wilson of the band, Heart
Ann & Nancy Wilson of the band, Heart Publicity handout photo

“Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll,” by Ann & Nancy Wilson The rock ’n’ roll sisters take to the pages “Kicking & Dreaming” to reveal the lifestyle, turmoil, successes, and strife they harnessed to bring Heart to world-wide notoriety. And after years in the industry, Ann and Nancy finally address the often-asked inquiry, “What is it like to be a woman in rock ’n’ roll?”

“Bruce,” by Peter Ames Carlin This rigorous and well-written biography of the Boss is one-stop shopping for the Bruce Springsteen fan on your list. Interviewing all of the major players, including Springsteen himself. Carlin, who also authored a well-received bio on the Beach Boys, strikes a balance, capturing Springsteen the man, the songwriter, and the performer.

“Weird Al: The Book,” by Nathan Rabin and Al Yankovic The man who brought us gems like “Eat It” and “Smells Like Nirvana” among many other pop music parodies takes a look back on an unlikely career with stories, photos, tweets, and more explaining how the parodist became a true American original.


“I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen,” by Sylvie Simmons Drawing on interviews with the man himself and his various muses and contemporaries, noted British music journalist Simmons recounts Cohen’s journey, from his emergence in Montreal as a poet and songwriter through his years as an ordained Buddhist monk to his recent world tour that brought him back to prominence.

“Hearts of Darkness: James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, and the Unlikely Rise of the Singer-Songwriter,” by Dave Thompson Think of this as the bookend to Sheila Weller’s excellent “Girls Like Us,” her 2008 account of the rise of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon. Thompson’s book looks at the remarkable journeys of three men who helped lay the foundation for the singer-songwriter movement.

“Fade to Black: Hard Rock Cover Art of the Vinyl Age,” by Martin Popoff with Ioannis Any serious hard rock fan would be proud to own this brawny coffee table book collecting and dissecting 216 album covers — from Cream to Aerosmith to Iron Maiden — from what the authors deem vinyl’s “golden age” of 1965-1990.

Ke$haGetty Images

“My Crazy Beautiful Life,” by Ke$ha A photo scrapbook in which the pop star can hardly believe how cool her life is. See Ke$ha in concert. See Ke$ha covered in glitter and lipstick. See Ke$ha chugging a bottle of wine. Behold deep insights such as, “I was born a wild child with an affinity for body paint. As you can see I’ve had plenty of attitude since I was a baby.”