10 Mind Blowing Books To Cross Off Your Bucket List

18 Jan 2019

From stories of 60's London, turbulent punk years and the landmark history of grime. Here's 10 books to get stuck into this month...

England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage

Anyone with even a passing interest in punk or how music has informed England’s cultural identity needs to read this. Author Jon Savage documents the fast rise and and even faster fall of the Sex Pistols, using one of the most turbulent times in pop music history as his backdrop. It’s a reminder of that old idiom: the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

Stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham

60s London was a dark and magical time, packed with gangsters and rock bands, jazz singers and hustlers, and through that rose the Rolling Stones. Sometimes the best stories are told by those on the outside, and while there are numerous books written by members of the band, this one by Andrew Loog Oldham (their manager and producer from 1963-67) is perhaps the most fascinating account of their outrageous rise.

Inner City Pressure by Dan Hancox

In the last ten years, grime has transformed from being a London subculture into one of the biggest British music exports on the planet, as artists like Drake, ASAP Rocky and Kanye West scamper to collaborate with the stars of this thriving genre. Writer Dan Hancox took on the role of creating the landmark history of grime, and the result is an awe-inspiring story of desperation, innovation and accomplishment.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton

From his humble beginnings as an eccentric kid on a council estate in Stratford, Alexander McQueen went on to dominate the global fashion world and create a legacy that still ripples through the upper echelons of culture. After last year’s award winning documentary, McQueen, there is a renewed interest in his radical visions, which means there’s no better time to read the best book on the subject: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton.

How Music Got Free by Stephen Richard Witt

Remember those controversial days of Napster, Limewire and Kazaa when it seemed like any song in the world could be illegally downloaded at the click of a button? This groundbreaking book examines how piracy turned the global music industry upside down, and tells previously untold stories of the German entrepreneurs who created the mp3 and the CD factory worker who started the trend for leaking albums ahead of schedule.

The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

Many have tried to write works of fiction about rock ‘n’ roll and many have failed. Something about the madcap reality of rock music makes it hard to bring to life on the page. But Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments is one that tried and succeeded. Telling the tale of a motley crue of desperate Irish kids with a dream of bringing soul music to Dublin, the Irish writer managed to capture all of the dreams, greed and chaos of the music industry in lucid high definition.

M Train by Patti Smith

As one of the most influential artists and gifted lyricists of the punk movement, you could say Patti Smith has had an interesting life. And since she began writing books, we’ve been given larger and larger windows into how her mind works. M Train, her second novel, follows the author on her dreamy journeys from clubs in Berlin to Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico, as she contemplates grief and creativity.

Original Man by Patrick Grant

Too often literature around mens fashion has focused on the same cultural touchpoints, usually drawing a line all the way from Frank Sinatra to the British mods. In this stunning compendium, writer Patrick Grant acknowledges the legends but also tries to bring in some new faces, exploring the styles of everyone from the Italian master of cinema, Federico Fellini, to Japanese TV personality, Takeshi Kitano.

John Cooper Clarke: An Autobiography

The world has been waiting for a John Cooper Clarke autobiography from the moment the Salford bard wandered up onstage in the late 70s and unleashed his witty and eviscerating poems. The book isn’t out yet, but is set to be published by Picador in late 2019 and we can’t bloody wait.

The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds by John Higgs

Thirty years on from their heyday, The KLF still stand as one of the most compelling bands we’ve ever produced. Their music was experimental and avant-garde, but it was their antics that often grabbed the biggest headlines. John Higgs tells the story of this band, from dumping a dead sheep at the Brits after show party to burning one million pounds in cash on a remote Scottish island.