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10 books to gift a music lover in 2021

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IPR Contributor Lily DeTaeye recommends the following new music books for your favorite musical bookworms this holiday season.

2021 has been a busy year for music book releases. Between Brandi Carlile’s hard-hitting memoir, “Broken Horses,” and former New York Times music critic Kelefa Sanneh’s in-depth look at popular music history in “Major Labels,” there are some great reads to discover. We’ve made it easier for you to find the perfect read for every bookworm on your shopping list this year (and perhaps to get yourself a little something too.)

For The Industry Nerds

“Tarzan Economics” by Will Page (published April 1, 2021 via Simon & Schuster LTD)

Spotify’s chief economist, Will Page, writes about his experience leading the business through disruptive changes in the market. Business-minded folks across all fields will be able to take something away from this book.

“The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music” by Dave Grohl (published October 5, 2021 via Simon & Schuster UK)

From Nirvana to The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl has played roles in several formative bands over the years. He finally writes about his experiences in the industry, on the road and from the throne (the drum throne, that is) in his new autobiography.

“Long Players: Writers on the Albums That Shaped Them” edited by Tom Gatti (published June 10, 2021 via Bloomsbury Publishing PLC)

Fifty authors tell the tales of the albums that influenced their writing in this compilation edited by Tom Gatti. An enticing marriage between the music world and the literary world, this book is perfect for industry nerds and book worms alike.

For The History Buffs

“The Musical Human” by Michael Spitzer (published April 13, 2021 via Bloomsbury Publishing)

Michael Spitzer explores the historical relationship between humans and noise-making in this insightful read. A deep look into how music consumption and production has changed over time, this book is for the detail-oriented who don’t mind a slow burn.

“Bessie Smith” by Jackie Kay (published February 18, 2021 via Faber & Faber)

Poet and children’s author Jackie Kay takes a break from her usual style and recounts the life of Bessie Smith in this new genre-bending book. This read is perfect for fans of the blues, Bessie, and untraditional biographies.

“Music Is History” by Amir Questlove Thompson (published October 19, 2021 via Abrams Image)

Amir Thompson (Questlove) delivers a unique history lesson with music as the center piece from 1971 to the present in this new release. Each chapter focuses on a different year and features playlists, personal anecdotes and an inviting trip down musical memory lane for readers.

For The Fangirls

“You Are Beautiful And You Are Alone: The Biography Of Nico” by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (published August 10, 2021 via Hachette Books)

Jennifer Otter Bickerdike provides a thorough look into the life of German singer-songwriter, Nico, in this 2021 biography. A meditation on beauty, music, and the roles they played in Nico’s life, this book is perfect for fans of The Velvet Underground’s late singer.

“Willie Nelson’s Letters To America” by Willie Nelson and Turk Pippin (published June 29, 2021 via Harper Horizon)

There are few country singers alive today more iconic than Willie Nelson. Nelson dives into memories, lyrics, and life in his new book that reads like sitting down to coffee with an old friend.

For The Kiddos

“Music and How It Works: The Complete Guide for Kids” by Charlie Morland (published November 17, 2020 via DK Children)

Instruments, genres, and music from across the world are discovered in this 2021 release by Charlie Morland. Morland’s thorough guide is perfect for people of all ages just beginning to dip their toes into the world of music.

“Muse: a Dream-Filled, Interactive Musical Adventure” by Pierre Hache (published August 21, 2021 via Library and Archives of Canada)

Lily meets Muse and his blue ukulele and the pair soon embarks on a whirlwind adventure that’s quite educational too. This wonderfully illustrated book includes interactive activities that develop rhythm skills and an understanding of music.