I was recently asked to compile a list of my five favourite music books for Scenestr Magazine – it was really hard to stop at 5! For the people who don’t live in the sunny capital of Brisbane I’ve put in the article below and added a few more for you too!

Rage to Survive by Etta James

rage to survive

Raw, candid and gripping (just like her vocals) Etta’s autobiography is rough and tough, and well worth a read. At times tear-jerking, at times a bit whingey, but at all times honest and heartfelt.

David Bowie Is by Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh (eds.)

david bowie is

I saw the incredible David Bowie Is exhibition at the V&A in London last year and my cheeks were sore afterwards from hours of grinning. If you missed the exhibition, owning this coffee table Bowie bible is the next best thing. Costumes, musings, rare pictures and insights into the amazing high-art pop culture God that is Bowie is totally worth a few quid.

Kylie: Fashion by Kylie and William Baker


Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Louboutin and Stella McCartney have all designed costumes for Kylie throughout her huge career. This book displays hundreds of incredible couture creations and also some unusual shots from lesser-known photo shoots including Kylie going grunge and posing with parrots. Viva la Kylie.

This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel J. Levitin


For your brain surgery theory fix, digest this. This book explains in modern scientific terms why songs get stuck in your head (ear-worms darling) and why Mick Jagger has sex appeal. Not exactly gossipy poolside reading, but well worth a look. Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones


The absolute legend that is Quincy Jones shines through the pages of his autobiography. Covering his jazz roots as a horn player with Dizzy Gillespie to his producer days with Michael Jackson, Jones is an eloquent storyteller, humble and engaging. I would happily have lunch and shoot the breeze with this cat any day of the week.

The Cover Art of Blue Note Records: Graham Marsh and Glym Callingham

  blue note book

I am truly in love with the Blue Note sound and listen to pressings almost daily from this incredible jazz stable. I also adore the Blue Note aesthetic. I love the colour palates, the bold fonts, the type facing and character. The look is distinctive, timeless and iconic. This book is a stunning collection of covers collated lovingly and printed beautifully. It doubles as a dangerous shopping catalogue.

The Last Holiday. A Memoir by Gil Scot-Heron 


This book, released after the late great poet, songwriter and musician passed is a collated group of drafts, poems and memories in Gils own words.  Childhood memories, musical musings and a detailed account of Gils’s tour with Stevie Wonder and their fight to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a public holiday. An inspired account of historical social change through music.

Miles: The Autobiography. Miles Davis with Quincy Toupe


Largely transcribed from interviews with Miles this book reads like Davis is talking straight to you. and talk straight he certainly does. No holds barred, Miles gives you his two bobs on basically everything. Who can play jazz (in his very definite opinion), who can’t, a detailed account of his love life, heart breaks, drug use, mistakes and triumphs. Every second word is a profanity so perhaps not one for the kids. At times confronting and at all times passionate and wildly honest.

Lastly I’d like to note that bar two of the above titles, all my copies of these books have been ‘borrowed’ and not returned by a bunch of different musician friends. I take that as a sign that they are such good reads no one wants to part with them! So perhaps don’t lend these out!

Happy reading!

Chelsea x

Check out the original post on Scenester here.