Music books displayed on the chair they’ll be read in. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Nationally touring musical acts are still in a holding pattern in terms of being able to hit the road but several of them have been spending time doing something else that I’m very happy about: Writing books!

There’s been a bumper crop of music-related books that have come out in the past year that I’m thrilled about.

A brand new memoir by Brandi Carlile called “Broken Horses” was published on April 6 and spent a week at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for hardcover nonfiction. I read the book in about 24 hours. As a longtime Carlile fan, I already know some of her life story, but “Broken Horses” opened the door into some deeply personal things she experienced including a life-threatening illness when she was a child.

She also shared the story of becoming friends with Joni Mitchell (gasp!) and what it’s been like being part of jam sessions at Mitchell’s California home. I can’t remember the last time I was so enthralled by a book that I had to go on a reading bender of that magnitude.

Maureen Finlay, assistant manager at Nonesuch Books in South Portland, said that “Broken Horses” has been a hot seller at the shop since its release, and in fact, the day I was in there to chat with her, they were out of stock but had more copies on the way.

Finlay also pointed out the Dolly Parton coffee table book “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics,” which was published last November. “You should have seen the people lining yo to buy the $50 Dolly book.” That one is certainly on my list, especially since Parton shares behind-the-scenes details on several of her songs including “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You” and “9 to 5.”

Finlay also mentioned “More Myself: A Journey,” by Alicia Keys, published in March of last year. Several copies have sold at her shop including a bunch for a local book club.

Maureen Finlay, assistant manager at Nonesuch Books in South Portland holds the book “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics.” Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Jonathan Moore at the Bull Moose store in South Portland’s Mill Creek gathered a stack of books for me to look at, and I was so intrigued by one of them, I bought it on the spot and can’t wait to read it. “You’re History: The Twelve Strangest Women in Music” by Lesley Chow was published last month. A quick scan revealed the author included Kate Bush and Sade, which was all I needed to know. The book was also recommended by Josh Christie, co-owner of Print: A Bookstore in Portland.

Moore and Christie had two other mutual titles on their lists: “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance” by Hanif Addurraqib, published last month, and “Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion” by Jim Ruland, published in August.

A few other of Moore’s suggestions were “Total (expletive) Godhead: The Biography of Chris Cornell” by Corbin Reiff, “Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina” by Chris Franz and “This Isn’t Happening: Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ and the Beginning of the 21st Century.”

Christie’s other picks included “Vibrate Higher: A Rap Story” by Talib Kweli and “Decoding ‘Despacito:’ An Oral History of Latin Music” by Leila Cobo.

Print’s co-owner, Emily Russo, suggested  “Hollywood Park” by Mikel Jollett. “This is an incredible memoir by the frontman for the band Airborne Toxic Event detailing his tumultuous childhood in the years after his family escaped he dangerous cult, Synanon, in California,” she said. “It’s heartfelt, honest, and beautifully rendered.”

Jonathan Moore at Bull Moose in South Portland’s Mill Creek area. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Another musician I’m a longtime and massive fan of is Rickie Lee Jones, and on the same day “Broken Horses” was published, so was Jones’ memoir, “Last Chance Texaco,” which is also the name of one of her best songs. That, too, sits in my to-read pile.

I did recently crack open “All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Memoir,” by Kathy Valentine and already love it. She’s one of The Go-Go’s, which is the first band I ever saw live.

I’m also interested in “Crying in H Mart: A Memoir,” which was published just last week. It’s by Michelle Zauner of the band Japanese Breakfast, and Amazon describes it as an “unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother and forging her own identity.”

All of this is to say: Get busy reading!

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