A BookLikes community page for Quirk Books, an independent book publisher based in Philadelphia. We publish 25 strikingly unconventional books every year. Learn more at QuirkBooks.com.
The last week of April marks National Karaoke Week. If you love karaoke as much as I do, there’s no denying how fun it is to feel like a rock star, if only for a few minutes. And if you don’t have a microphone handy, you can still rock out with these books. Hey ho, let’s go!
The Wishbones by Tom Perotta
Dave Raymond is 31, lives with his parents, and plays with a New Jersey wedding band, The Wishbones. Do his dreams of rock stardom keep him from growing up? You bet. Does he propose to his long-time girlfriend anyway, in the hopes of maturing? He sure does. Will this novel keep you entertained with its hilarious misadventures? Count on it.
The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
When you think of soul music, you may not think of Dublin, but Jimmy Rabitte is determined to change that. Never mind that the ragtag bunch of Ireland’s working class comprising The Commitments don’t all have musical talent… or even get along. This funny, feisty book will have you rooting for “Dublin’s hardest working band.”
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Where there’s rock ‘n’ roll, there’s often dysfunction. Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel illustrates that beautifully as its interconnecting stories follow a group connected to the music industry. There’s Bennie, an aging record exec that ingests gold dust, his kleptomaniac assistant Sasha, and an array of equally colorful characters who try fight time and remain relevant in a world youth is king and the song is over before you know it.
The Anomalies by Joey Goebel
You wouldn’t expect to find an 80-year-old, an eight-year-old, a war vet, a wheelchair-bound Satanist, and a guy from the ghetto in the same band, but you’d be wrong. Because these Kentucky misfits are ready to rock. Goebel’s takes this odd bunch on an irreverent journey beyond stereotypes and cynicism, where shared non-conformity results in a pursuit of a collective musical dream.
I’m With The Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres
If there’s anyone who lived by the “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” motto, it’s Des Barres. She has no qualms about calling herself a groupie, or about detailing her adventures in the 60’s and 70’s as a flower child gone wild. She’s also not afraid to kiss and tell, with juicy stories involving numerous rock legends including Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, and Jimmy Page.
The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
When your book inspires a song of the same name by one of the biggest rock bands in the world (U2), you know you’re doing something right. Rushdie’s novel, a take on the Orpheus and Eurydice tale, has dashes of magical realism and sci-fi, and rewrites decades of pop culture. The story follows two men and their love for the same woman, but the backdrop is an alternate history of rock and roll from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Don’t Sleep With Your Drummer by Jenny Sincero
28-year-old Jenny Troianni quits her job in advertising to become a rock goddess. Should be simple enough, right? Of course not. But that’s what makes this novel, written in journal format with additional “Notes to Self” such a fun read. Get ready to cheer for Jenny through her big dreams and bad choices in this quirky tale of the music industry roller coaster.
Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals and Love of Karaoke by Rob Sheffield
This rock journalist’s memoir follows him as a young widower finding solace in the arms of karaoke. He offers a cultural history on the kitschy pastime, many anecdotes of his own karaoke outings, and an offbeat take on music as a force of salvation. If you’ve never been swept up in the power of karaoke, this book may inspire you to get behind the mic. At the very least it’s sure to make you smile, and get a song or two stuck in your head.