Much like summer loving, summer reading will be a blast

Because I am 99% Booknerd and 1% music-geek-wannabe, I have designated June rock and roll month. What gives me such authority? The fact that my birthday is on the sixth day of the sixth month and this year I’ll be thirty-six. Did I make that up right now? Hell yes.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited by one of my own ambitious, extremely nerdy reading plans, and I’m totally excited by RnR June. See, I’ve decided to read nothing but rock and roll books during the month of June. So far I’ve got four, that I’ll share with you in the minute, but I’m looking for some sort of rock and roll type fiction. Anyone got any? I’m looking for something ala Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity or Frank Portman’s King Dork. If you have any ideas, leave ’em in the comments.

So far on deck for June I’ve got:

The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavina Greenlaw
I’m so excited to read this book I’m a little frightened. Ever since I read Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mixtape, I’ve been looking for the female equivalent. A book about life, death, loving, rock and roll, and all that kind of good stuff, but written by a girl. In fact I often look for the female equivalent when it comes to music writing. I can’t ever seem to find a woman who writes about music the same way men do. I don’t know what it is, why there is a definite gender division here, but there is. I am hoping to spend some time this summer remedying my own bias by reading rock and roll books by and about women (well most of them are). If this isn’t the feminine answer to Love is a Mixtape, I am going to write my own as soon as I finish the other book I’m pretending to write.

Everything I’m Cracked Up to Be by Jen Trynin
My friend Wolfdogg has been bugging me to read this book for something like two years, which is probably how long it’s been since I got it as a gift from our friend RJ. I’ve been meaning to read it, but then the idea of taking book advice from the man who suggested Rock & Roll Bookclub reading The Man Who Cried Freebird and Things I Learned in Remedial English sends shivers of horror coursing through my body. But then I remember that he is my friend so he must have some kind of taste, plus in the summer of 199something that song “Mother” was the song about us, young twenty-something women who were so misunderstood and had it much rougher than anyone realized. Well, fuck me, I was wrong. Tracy Bonham sang that song. Damnit. I’m reading the book anyway.

So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star by Jacob Slichter
Written by the drummer for Semisonic, this is a book that came out years ago that I wanted to read but never got around to. Rock and roll June is the perfect excuse to finally give it its due. Besides, I have great guilt about Semisonic. When I was a young punk concert reviewer in college, Pleasure (that’s what they were called before they were Semisonic) played a concert at the Council Fire Room of Davies Center on the ol’ UWEC campus. I think they opened for a band called Truck Stop Love. Scathing, would be too nice for the review I gave them. It has become obvious to me over time, that clearly my hearing and my brain had been damaged by all that damn NOFX I’d been listening to. I have no idea why I have such guilt over this review. I can say with 100% confidence that three people read it — me, the copy editor, and the chief copy editor. Yet, I still have guilt. I’m weird.

Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller
This was the book that actually sparked this entire reading plan. Like I said, I am often looking for a female perspective on music and seem to never find it. When I saw this book written by a women about three women who were hugely influential in female rock it totally made my nipples hard. I’ve got a lot of hopes for this book. Woohoo!

So there you have it, my plan for June. I think you should pick up a book or two on the list and read along with me, then we can have wonderful arguments in the comments section about how right I am and how wrong you are. It promises to be great fun.

I am in the midst of formulating a reading plan for August, too. I figure July is going to be filled with the short stories my soul will crave along with that new Ethan Canin book America, America that’s sitting on my shelf begging to be read.

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  1. christa 26.May.08 at 8:39 pm

    great! can’t wait to see what you think of the semisonic book. i read it a few years ago and loved parts and dragged through parts, but it has forever changed my listening to the song “closing time.”

    aside from that, i’ve also recently wondered what college you went to. so thanks for answering that.

    oh, and i read part of that jen trynin book a few years ago also. i don’t remember much except that “better than nothing” was stuck in my head for the duration.

  2. christa 26.May.08 at 10:42 pm

    oh and there is a book called “how soon is never” that is a fictional account of trying to get the smiths back together … but i think you said you hate morrissey so maybe not.

  3. Peabo 27.May.08 at 12:03 am

    Please go get a job and stop being so damn organized. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

  4. RJ 27.May.08 at 7:49 pm

    The Trynin and the Slichter are good reads. Be prepared to view the underbelly of the music industry. The Greenlaw looks promising but I think I’d pass on that last one.

    You can find Lewis Shiner’s “Say Goodbye” on amazon for under two bucks; his “Glimpses” is not as girly but still some of the best Rock & Roll fiction I’ve ever read.

  5. david 27.May.08 at 9:36 pm

    I liked the Greenlaw book much better than Sheffield’s, but I am probably in the minority. The Sclichter & Trynin books are easy reads, entertaining in spots, and surprisingly well-written.

    I mentioned your opinion that few decent music books were writen by women to an editor at Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, and she recommended Amanda Petrusich’s upcoming book, It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music (and send me a couple of ARCs). I’ll drop one in the mail tomorrow.


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