Road Trip Books: SXSW

If you’re heading to Austin this week for South by Southwest (SXSW), you’re in for lots of great bands, fantastic local culture, and probably a fair amount of day drinking. But, before that, you’re looking at a long car ride, and plenty of waiting around for shows to begin. Here are our picks for books that keep you in the music mindset.





Photo by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid 


Life by Keith Richards
Fun trivia about England, plenty of rock and roll, great Rolling Stones stories, and proof that drugs may not totally destroy your memory. This is the rare musician autobiography that’s actually compelling. Johnny Depp reads the audio, so it’s a crowd pleaser even in a van full of picky listeners.
Buy the audiobook. Buy the ebook.

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock
When you’re stuck in the backseat of your friend’s Jetta, smashed between the cooler and a pile of sleeping bags, you’ll be glad you have this paperback. It feels authentic and gritty, and there’s plenty of band-bonding and band-backstabbing stories to repeat to your co-road trippers. Authors Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain broke down hundreds of hours of audio interviews and pieced them back together into a coherent, chronological narrative (well, as coherent as the memories of a bunch of punks can be, anyway) that takes you through stories of the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, the Velvet Underground, and lots more.
Buy the paperback.


Just Kids
Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe wander the streets of New York, playing house and pretending to be artists until they end up growing into their own work. The book is a love letter to being an artist, and to being the kind of friend who loves even when a relationship changes. Read a few chapters on your smartphone while you’re waiting for the band, and you’ll actually be glad they went on late.
Buy the ebook. Buy the paperback.


Chuck Klosterman
You really can’t go wrong with Klosterman’s work. He’s a dedicated music fan who twists pop culture into an insightful lens to view the world through. Since lots of his best work is in the form of essays and magazine pieces, they make quick, easy reads to finish between shows or while the rest of your hotelmates are nursing their hangovers. Read Killing Yourself to Live for a story of coming of age through music. Read Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs for extraordinarily funny, clever essays on pop culture. ReadChuck Klosterman IV for a collection of his magazine pieces, including plenty of interviews of musicians.
(Click on the links to buy the books.)


Electric Kool-aid Acid Test
For the better part of the book, Tom Wolfe follows the Merry Pranksters as they travel the country in a day glo bus, striking fear in the hearts of middle America. This book gives you episodes with the Grateful Dead, literary cred (Ken Kesey, author of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is a main character), plus you’ll finally know where the expression “drinking the kool-aid” comes from.
Buy the ebook. Buy the paperback.


Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.

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