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Women Who Rock: Music Memoirs and Biographies

Hap­py Inter­na­tion­al Wom­en’s Day! These music leg­ends broke the charts and cap­tured our hearts. Check out these titles to learn more about the suc­cess­es and strug­gles of these singers and songwriters. 

Look­ing for more curat­ed recs from our staff? Check out our Read­ing Rec­om­men­da­tions page!

Lady Sings the Blues by Bil­lie Hol­i­day with William Dufty

A fierce­ly hon­est, no-holds-barred mem­oir of the leg­endary jazz, swing, and stan­dards-singing sen­sa­tion – a fifti­eth-anniver­sary edi­tion updat­ed with stun­ning new pho­tos, a revised discog­ra­phy, and an insight­ful fore­word by music writer David Ritz.

The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Suc­cess, and Betray­al by Mark Ribowsky

Explores the rise and fall of this pop­u­lar trio based on rec­ol­lec­tions from friends, fam­i­ly, and Motown con­tem­po­raries who were there when their songs were made, their hits climbed the charts, and their group fad­ed away into his­to­ry due to per­son­al issues and pro­fes­sion­al strife.

Just Kids by Pat­ti Smith

Singer-song­writer Pat­ti Smith shares tales of New York City and her new life in Brook­lyn with a young man named Robert Map­plethor­pe – the man who changed her life with his love, friend­ship, and genius.

Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Mem­oir by Pat Benatar

The singer of such 1980s hits as Heart­break­er” and Love Is a Bat­tle­field” dis­cuss­es her rock n’ roll life – includ­ing con­cert tours, MTV videos, and ador­ing fans – and how she avoid­ed the pit­falls of fame.

True You: A Jour­ney to Find­ing and Lov­ing Your­self by Janet Jack­son with David Ritz

The famous singer reveals her body image inse­cu­ri­ties and strug­gles with food and rela­tion­ships that have plagued her since child­hood, and sheds light on her career, per­son­al life, and famous family.

Remem­ber­ing Whit­ney: My Sto­ry of Love, Loss, and the Night the Music Stopped by Cis­sy Hous­ton with Lisa Dickey

The Gram­my Award-win­ning Amer­i­can soul and gospel singer and moth­er of Whit­ney Hous­ton reflects on her daugh­ter’s life, the events that led up to her death and the after­math of a sense­less tragedy.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

A found­ing mem­ber of Son­ic Youth, fash­ion icon and role mod­el for a gen­er­a­tion of women, now tells her sto­ry — a mem­oir of life as an artist, of music, mar­riage, moth­er­hood, inde­pen­dence and as one of the first women of rock and roll.

Hunger Makes Me a Mod­ern Girl: A Mem­oir by Car­rie Brownstein

The gui­tarist and vocal­ist of fem­i­nist punk trio Sleater-Kin­ney presents a can­did and deeply per­son­al assess­ment of life in the rock-and-roll indus­try, reveal­ing her strug­gles with rock­’s dou­ble standards.

Tran­ny: Con­fes­sions of Punk Rock­’s Most Infa­mous Anar­chist Sell­out by Lau­ra Jane Grace with Dan Ozzi

The trans­gen­der advo­cate and lead singer of the punk rock band Against Me! describes her intense­ly per­son­al strug­gles with iden­ti­ty and addic­tion through jour­nal entries that date back to her childhood.

Real Love, No Dra­ma: The Music of Mary J. Blige by Dan­ny Alexander

Trac­ing the arc of Mary J. Blige’s career through the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed 2014 album, The Lon­don Ses­sions, this is a look at the music and cul­tur­al impact of one of the most impor­tant artists in pop music history.