Books for Music Lovers: A Music Lovers Gift Guide - Festy GoNuts!

Books for Music Lovers: A Music Lovers Gift Guide

Music Festival Gift Guide: Books For Music Lovers


Sure, we love music above most other things, but that doesn’t mean we don’t read, yo!

The music festival lover in your life probably feels the same.  Who doesn’t like a good book?  

Plus, we focus on music, culture, and adventure.  Sometimes adventure requires us to relax in a hammock for a few hours.  A grear time for a good book!

There’s also travel time to music festivals – the perfect time to dive into a new novel while sitting on a plane, train, or bus.

Besides all that, let’s face it, we aren’t at music festivals all the time!  We do relax at home once in a while, and reading is a big part of that. 

Reading about music keeps us connected and dreaming of our next music festival adventure!


If you are looking for a gift idea for a music lover or music festival addict, look no further than this list of Books for Music Lovers!


We encourage you to seek out these titles at your local book store, and if they don’t have them, ask about ordering them.  Support local businesses!  That being said, we have provided links to order these titles on Amazon (remember when Amazon started as a book store?!) for your convenience, or if your local shop can’t help you out.   Full disclosure – if you purchase through these links we receive a (very) small payment from Amazon at no additional cost to you.

“This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel Levitin

Give the music lover in your life a gift that will make them think.

In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music—its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it—and the human brain.

We all love music, now we can understand why.

“The Creative Act: A Way of Being” by Rick Rubin

Legendary producer Rick Rubin has unequivocally changed the course of modern music. 

From someone who has so brilliantly fostered and encouraged creativity from the many artists with whom he is associated, here is a view on the act of creativity itself. 

I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be.” —Rick Rubin

Bob Dylan: Mixing Up The Medicine

Several years ago, a treasure trove containing some 6,000 original Bob Dylan manuscripts was revealed to exist. 

These documents, as essential as they are intriguing—draft lyrics, notebooks, and diverse ephemera— comprise one of the most important cultural archives in the modern world. 

Edited by Mark Davidson and Parker Fishel, BOB DYLAN: MIXING UP THE MEDICINE focuses a close look at the full scope of Dylan’s working life, particularly from the dynamic perspective of his ongoing and shifting creative processes.

The centerpiece of BOB DYLAN: MIXING UP THE MEDICINE is a carefully curated selection of over 600 images including never-before-circulated draft lyrics, writings, photographs, drawings and other ephemera from the Dylan archive.

“Live at the Fillmore” by John Glatt

Live at the Fillmore East and West: Getting Backstage and Personal with Rock’s Greatest Legends

In 1968, rock promoter Bill Graham launched the Fillmore East in New York City and the Fillmore West in San Francisco, changing music forever. 

For three years, every major rock band played the Fillmores, performing legendary shows: Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Cream, the Allman Brothers, and many more.

Author John Glatt tells the story of the Fillmores through the lives of Bill Graham, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Carlos Santana, and an all-star supporting cast.

But why did Bill Graham shutter both Fillmores within weeks of each other in 1971, during the height of their popularity? Live at the Fillmore East and West reveals how Graham’s claim that “The flowers wilted and the scene changed,” was not quite the whole story.

“Live Music in America” by Steve Waksman

Live Music in America surveys the ongoing impact and changing conditions of live music performance in the U.S.

It covers a range of historic performances, from the Fisk Jubilee Singers expanding the sphere of African American music in the 1870s, to Benny Goodman bringing swing to Carnegie Hall in 1938, to 1952’s Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland – arguably the first rock and roll concert – to Beyoncé’s boundary-shattering performance at the 2018 Coachella festival.

More than that, Live Music In America details the roles played by performers, audiences, media commentators, and a variety of live music producers (promoters, agents, sound and stage technicians) in shaping what live music means and how it has evolved.

“Anthems We Love” by Steve Baltin

Anthems We Love: 29 Iconic Artists on the Hit Songs That Shaped Our Lives

From U2 to Carly Simon, the Temptations to TLC, artists describe in their own words how their songs became the soundtrack of your life in this celebration of music featuring original interviews by acclaimed music journalist Steve Baltin.

“Anthems We Love” is a wonderful piece of musical history and inspiration, offering rare personal insight from some of the biggest artists in the world about music that has touched us all.

“Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival” by Tim Newby

You’ve either always wanted to know the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of this band – or you’ve already been a part of them.  Either way, this book lays out Leftover Salmon’s 30 years of festivating and anahuacing

“In this book, Tim Newby presents an intimate portrait of Leftover Salmon through its band members, family, friends, former bandmates, managers, and countless musicians.

Leftover Salmon was born from the heart and soul of America itself, playing music that reflects the sounds emanating from the Appalachian hills, the streets of New Orleans, the clubs of Chicago, the plains of Texas, and the mountains in their home state of Colorado. Newby reveals Leftover Salmon’s story as one that is crucial to American music and needs to be told now.”

“Rememberings” by Sinéad O’Connor

This book gives an insightful account of Sinéad’s life growing up and her difficulties in the music industry, directly from the woman herself.  It is a true page-turner that makes you smile, laugh and even cry.  And since O’Connor tragically left us, Rememberings serves as a wonderful homage to this gifted artist.

In Rememberings, O’Connor recounts her painful tale of growing up in Dublin in a dysfunctional, abusive household. Inspired by a brother’s Bob Dylan records, she escaped into music. She relates her early forays with local Irish bands; we see Sinéad completing her first album while eight months pregnant, hanging with Rastas in the East Village, and soaring to unimaginable popularity with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U.”

Intimate, replete with candid anecdotes, and told in a singular form true to her unconventional career, Sinéad’s memoir is a remarkable chronicle of an enduring and influential artist.”

“How Music Works” by David Byrne

David Byrne is more than a bandleader.  He’s a record producer, songwriter, music theorist, actor, stage producer, and more.  He’s dabbled in pretty much every aspect of musical production, and he has truly let music shape his career over the past several decades.  This book is a requirement for anyone who wants to nerd out on the intricacies of music.

How Music Works is David Byrne’s remarkable and buoyant celebration of a subject he has spent a lifetime thinking about. In it, he explores how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and he explains how the advent of recording technology in the twentieth century forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music.

Touching on the joy, the physics, and even the business of making music, How Music Works is a brainy, irresistible adventure and an impassioned argument about music’s liberating, life-affirming power.”

Rock Concert” by Marc Myers

Admittedly, this book is new to our shelves – and just begging to be given the attention it deserves.  A quick peruse through the chapters highlights the deep musical experiences of Marc Myers, a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and his own blog on 

“Rock Concert provides a fascinating, immediate look at the evolution of rock ‘n’ roll through the lens of live performances —spanning from the rise of R&B in the 1950s, through the hippie gatherings of the ’60s, to the growing arena tours of the ’70s and ’80s. Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips, the British Invasion that brought the Beatles in the ’60s, the Grateful Dead’s free flowing jams, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall are just a few of the defining musical acts that drive this rich narrative. Featuring dozens of key players in the history of rock and filled with colorful anecdotes, Rock Concert will speak to anyone who has experienced the transcendence of live rock.”

“Beastie Boys Book” by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz

This colorful book will excite any Beastie Boys fan (read:  everyone you know).  This band changed music for the better in the 80’s – and decades beyond.  This isn’t something you read at once.  This book is to be enjoyed for years and to be shared with everyone who steps foot in your door. 

“With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative, you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys’ New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises.

“Jerry Garcia: Secret Space Of Dreams” by Jay Blakeberg (Foreword by Jon Mayer; Intro by David Gans)

This 208-page coffee-table book paints a picture of Jerry Garcia’s life throughout the decades.  Jay Blakesberg, one of the most known music photographers of all time, spent countless years photographing the Grateful Dead – and he’s sharing 145 of his favorite and most-loved photos with the world.  Get a backstage view of this iconic musician’s wild ride through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s- and read anecdotes from some of his closest friends and fans. 

Jerry Garcia: Secret Space of Dreams is a hard cover coffee table book that will bring together, for the first time, a comprehensive collection of photographs of Jerry Garcia taken by renowned Grateful Dead photographer Jay Blakesberg. The focus of the book is to present a collection of Jay’s iconic images of Garcia from 1978 until Garcia’s death in 1995. The book will include photographs of Garcia with members of the Grateful Dead as well as guest musicians and solo projects Jerry worked on. Since Jerry Garcia’s passing, the band’s popularity has remained immense as evidenced by their continued merchandise sales, acclaimed 50th anniversary “Fare Thee Well” concerts in 2015 and ongoing tours by surviving members. The book will include quotes from many notable musicians who were influenced and inspired by Jerry Garcia.”

I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival” by Rick Massimo 

Newport Folk Festival is one of the first major festivals ever in this country, going back over 50 years.  It’s safe to say that much of the current culture of music festivals can be attributed to this iconic OG.

The first-ever book exclusively devoted to the history of the Newport Folk Festival, I Got a Song documents the trajectory of an American musical institution that began more than a half-century ago and continues to influence our understanding of folk music today. 

“The World’s Greatest Music Festival Challenge: A Rockin’ Seek and Find” by Matt Everitt

Ok, this one’s a little different – but still a great book for a music festival lover!

From muddy fields to rock legends, Woodstock to Glastonbury, folk to dance, this book celebrates the greatest music festivals of all time. Explore the headliners and highlights from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix and Oasis and beyond.

Discover Monsters of Rock, Tomorrowland, Coachella, and South by South West as you hunt for the legends that performed there in this fast-paced, fun adventure through the history of music festivals.

“Festivals: A Music Lover’s Guide to the Festivals You Need To Know” by Oliver Keen

Here’s a book that covers some of the biggest and most historically relevant music festivals from around the world – a great gift for any lover of music festivals

Festivals is a must-have guide to the world’s best and most memorable music festivals – a list of all those you need to know and those you should experience.

Discover the compelling stories behind the most significant and exciting events around the world which shape music and festival culture. This inspirational global guide showcases 50 bucket list festivals with photographs, posters, facts and figures, and draws attention to hundreds more to explore.

“Music Is HIstory” by Questlove

Music Is History combines Questlove’s deep musical expertise with his curiosity about history, examining America over the past fifty years.

Focusing on the years 1971 to the present, Questlove finds the hidden connections in the American tapes- try, whether investigating how the blaxploitation era reshaped Black identity or considering the way disco took an assembly-line approach to Black genius. And these critical inquiries are complemented by his own memories as a music fan, and the way his appetite for pop culture taught him about America.

A history of the last half-century and an intimate conversation with one of music’s most influential and original voices, Music Is History is a singular look at contemporary America.

Funky Festival Gear

We like to look good and wear fun stuff when we attend music festivals.

With our “GoNuts Stuff”, you’ll be the coolest kid on the playground.  We also do custom designs, so drop us a line if you want something made!

Visit the Festy GoNuts Shop for your fun festy gear.

Gear for Music Festivals by Festy GoNuts

Looking for more gift ideas?  

Check out this guide!

Gift Ideas for Music Lovers: Holiday Gift Guide

About The Author


Festy GoNuts is the ultimate resource for enhancing your music festival experience: the Music, the Culture & the Adventure.

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