Growing up in the ’90s, bands and musicians like No Doubt, Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Veruca Salt, Hole, and so many others dominated my mixtapes. I was obsessed with alternative music and even more so if there was a female lead singer blaring their heart out on the microphone. With the arrival of summer comes the emergence of old classics from my youth. If there’s anything a great summer needs besides music it’s a great list of books to read as well. Here are a few favorite books from some of the most influential women in rock music.
1. Girls To The Front: The True Story Of The Riot Grrrl Revolution
You can’t talk about the Riot Grrrl and feminist revolution of the ’90s without also talking about Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin. In her book Girls to the Front, writer Sara Marcus goes back in history and looks at the roots of of the subculture, illuminating Hanna’s role as one of the most influential members of the movement, along with feminist hardcore punk bands like Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and others. Weaving between personal accounts of Riot Grrrl culture and looking at both the flaws and politics of it, Marcus gives a historical account of feminist punk rock and zine culture.
2. There Goes Gravity: A Life In Rock and Roll
Longtime music columnist for The New York Post, The New York Times Syndicate, and Vanity Fair, Lisa Robinson has interviewed some of the biggest names in music history including everyone from the Rolling Stones to Jay-Z. In her memoir Lisa describes her life as one of the leading women in music journalism and gives a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to spend time with some of the world’s biggest and well known musicians.
3. Just Kids – Patti Smith
In Just Kids Patti Smith writes, “I imagined myself as Frida to Diego, both muse and maker. I dreamed of meeting an artist to love and support and work with side by side.”
Long before she ever became known as the “Grandmother of Punk” Smith was just a young kid wandering around New York with then unknown photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Both were hungry to become artists and Smith’s memoir chronicles their time (and romance) together in the late ’60s and ’70s.
4. Clothes Clothes Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir
Both hilarious and moving Viv Albertine takes readers on a journey in her memoir from her early days growing up in London, to the wild days of playing guitar with female punk group The Slits. Between hanging with Sid Vicious and The Clash to performing to huge crowds and making a name for herself in a male dominated industry, she tells a compelling story about becoming a part of a movement that forever changed punk music.
5. Girl In A Band – Kim Gordon
Founding member, vocalist, and bassist of Sonic Youth Kim Gordon reveals what life was like in one of the most well known bands from the ’80s and ’90s in her new memoir. Gordon speaks candidly about her time with Sonic Youth, her 27 year marriage to band mate and lead guitarist Thurston Moore, and what life was like pre and post her Sonic Youth days.