Taylor Jenkins Reid is becoming a rock star, not literally, but rock star fits the theme of the list we’re about to tackle today. Reid is the author of the extremely popular Daisy Jones & The Six. The book has sold over one million copies, easily placing it on the New York Times Bestseller list.
The novel investigates the rise and fall of a 1970s rock group called The Josephines…kidding…the band is Daisy Jones & The Six, matching the title of the novel. If you’re unfamiliar with or are looking for more books with musical themes Daisy Jones & The Six is a great book to read.
This list goes through twenty novels that have musical elements; most focus on popular acts; however, some tell smaller stories in a big way.
As a famous group once said…
Let’s get it started.
Mary Jane: A Novel
Mary Jane is a coming-of-age story by Jessica Anya Blau which revolves around music and independence. It is a more intimate tale than Daisy Jones & The Six but contains similar elements revolving around the choices of characters depicted.
The protagonist is a fourteen-year-old girl named Mary Jane who gets introduced to a completely new worldview once she begins a job as a nanny in 1970s Baltimore. Will Mary Jane stick with her family’s ideology or make an independent choice revolving around the music she falls in love with?
If you’re intrigued, you can purchase Mary Jane: A Novel on Amazon here.
Author Kazuo Ishiguro combines several short stories in his novel Nocturnes. Each protagonist in the five narratives has a passion for music.
One story revolves around a once-famous singer who turned his back on music; another chronicles an opinionated music fanatic; an additional tale looks at a songwriter who breaks up a marriage. If those aren’t enough, there are two others to explore.
If you haven’t taken the journey through Nocturnes, the novel is available for purchase on
Author David Mitchell tells the story of Utopia Avenue in Utopia Avenue: A Novel. Utopia Avenue is a fictional British band that emerged from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967.
Utopia Avenue: A Novel is a story that takes you on the ride of a band’s rise to fame, sparing no details of the triumph and glory that comes with the lifestyle.
If you want to take a psychedelic journey with Utopia Avenue, the novel about the band is available on Amazon here.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
Author Dawnie Walton tells an amazing story of music, friendship, stardom, and racism with grace and poignance within The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a story worth having on your reading list.
The story revolves around Opal and Neville from the 1970s to 2016. The once dynamic duo broke apart due to Opal, a melanated woman protesting a band on their label brandishing a Confederate flag. Why did they break up, what was the fallout of the protest, and what happened to Opal and Neville decades later? That’s for you to find out.
If you’re intrigued by this fascinating narrative, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is available on Amazon here.
Greatest Hits is similar to the themes highlighted within Daisy Jones & The Six. The novel puts a microscope on the 1970s music scene while telling a charming story of reflection and rediscovery.
Greatest Hits follows Cass Wheeler, who is leaving retirement to put together a greatest hits album. Author Laura Barnett does a great job of focusing on music and humanizing those who are in the spotlight.
If you’ve yet to experience the Greatest Hits the novel is available on Amazon here.
Author Nick Horny is a bestselling author for a reason. His talent shines through on the pages of High Fidelity. Instead of the famous, High Fidelity highlights individuals living lives outside the public eye but love music just the same.
The protagonist is Rob, a record store owner; he experiences loss, attempts to rediscover himself, and comes to find what he wants out of life. If you want to read about a normal life instead of the rock star experience, this is the music novel for you.
If you want to see what Rob finds for himself, High Fidelity is available on Amazon here.
Songs In Ursa Major: A Novel
Author Emma Brodie captures the sacrifices of rising to fame in the music industry beautifully within Songs in Ursa Major. The novel is set in the early 1970s music scene and captures the feel of the industry at the time.
Jane Quinn is a breakout star after performing at a music festival, leading her on an incredible whirlwind of romance and fame. Songs in Ursa Major tackles the struggle women face in living their dreams in the unforgiving music industry.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jane’s story, Songs in Ursa Major is available on Amazon here.
How To Kill A Rock Star
How to Kill a Rock Star investigates romance between those in the music industry, rise to fame, and a heartbreaking mystery layered with emotion. How to Kill a Rock Star delivers something just a bit different.
Author Tiffanie DeBartolo tells the story of Eliza, a music journalist attempting to make it in New York. Her world turns upside down when she begins a romance with a rising star that is eventually affected by a secret from her past.
Want to learn more about Eliza? If you’re intrigued, add How to Kill a Rock Star to your reading list, the novel is available on Amazon here.
Let Me Hear A Rhyme
Are you a fan of late 1990s hip hop? If so, author Tiffany Jackson’s Let Me Hear a Rhyme is the perfect novel for you. Let Me Hear a Rhyme is creative and tells themes of friendship, inner-city life, and a unique rise to fame.
Three friends turn tragedy into a celebration of life, which leads to posthumous fame for a friend that was tragically murdered. With fame and friendship on the line, how does the group keep together?
The gripping story of Let Me Hear a Rhyme is available on Amazon here.
Malibu Rising: A Novel
Author Taylor Jenkins Reid tells a different story within the realm of music with Malibu Rising. Malibu Rising focuses on one night when the family of a famous musician sees their lives turned upside down.
The four children of legendary singer Mick Riva are in the spotlight on a day when a party gets out of hand. Alcohol, music, and secrets cause an unfortunate incident at the family mansion.
The interesting story of Malibu Rising should grip fans of musical novels and literary fiction in general. You can add it to your library on Amazon here.
At The End Of The Matinee
At the End of the Matinee is by author Keiichiro Hirano and is another novel that investigates love from those within different areas of the music industry. However, At the End of the Matinee is unique in its own right.
At the End of the Matinee is based in Japan and follows the budding relationship between guitarist Satoshi Makino and journalist Yoko Komine. This thought-provoking novel has an innocence that is unique and fascinating.
If you want to see how the relationship turns out At the End of the Matinee is available on Amazon here.
A Visit From The Goon Squad
Author Jennifer Egan tells a different story in the first book of her ‘Goon Squad’ series. A Visit from the Goon Squad grabs your attention, mixing elements of humor that incredibly humanizes the novel.
The novel focuses on Bennie, a former punk rocker and record executive, and his employee Sasha. Their lives, history, and circle of ‘friends’ all play a role in the narrative.
A Visit from the Goon Squad takes a different look at the music industry and is available on Amazon here.
The Violin Conspiracy: A Novel
Author Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb wins the award for creativity using music as a backdrop. The Violin Conspiracy brings elements of mystery and suspense to classical music.
Who knew a violin theft, bigotry, and a classical music competition could all fit in a novel? The Violin Conspiracy follows Ray McMillian and his rise to fame as a classical violinist. Will he overcome hurdles to show his true talent?
Hooked, aren’t you? You can run over to Amazon and purchase The Violin Conspiracy here.
Continuing the theme of imaginative and fascinating stories, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is simply wonderful. A lavish party in South America takes a dark turn, followed by several creative and shocking twists.
The musical tie-in? That comes from protagonist Roxanne Cross, the leading soprano singer in the opera community. However, her performance is interrupted by terrorists. Yes, you read that correctly; find out what unfolds within the pages of Bel Canto.
There is no way Bel Canto won’t leave you impressed. You can add the incredible novel to your collection on Amazon here.
The Music Shop: A Novel
Returning to the theme of music shops and personal discovery, author Rachel Joyce delivers in The Music Shop. The intimate themes found with The Music Shop will help those examine their reactions to those wishing to connect with them.
Frank owns a music shop and loves music. What doesn’t Frank love? Allowing anyone past an artificial emotional wall he placed to prevent himself from getting hurt. Will that change when a mysterious woman enters his life?
Is The Music Shop the right novel for you? Take the journey and grab the novel on Amazon here.
An Equal Music: A Novel
Bestselling author Vikram Seth delivers a romantic and dramatic story found within the pages of An Equal Music. The backdrop of Venice and Vienna set the mood for what is a compelling story.
Michael Holme, a violinist, and pianist, Julia McNicholl, rekindle a romance in the not most ethical manner. Their love of music brings them together; however, a secret may take them apart once more.
Has this romantic musical drama caught your attention? You can grab An Equal Music on Amazon here.
The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music
Author Steve Lopez tells a story of discovery, companionship, and introspection with the pages of The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music. A journalist finds an incredible violinist living on Skid Row in Los Angeles and helps the prodigy out of a difficult situation.
Themes of mental illness, societies’ neglect of those needing help, and redemption color the pages of The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music. Will Steve help Nathaniel Ayers reach his potential?
The incredible story of The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music is available for purchase on Amazon here.
Authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess came together to co-write Swing. The novel focuses on coming-of-age themes with the backdrop of bigotry that shape teenagers’ life experience.
Walt (good name), who has a love of jazz, and his best friend Noah seem to be normal teenagers living their lives, but social tensions cause them to decide what they find important.
Swing is a novel worth reading; you can pick up this young adult masterpiece on Amazon here.
We Sold Our Souls: A Novel
Author Grady Hendrix examines the life of a former heavy metal guitarist that nearly grabbed mainstream fame and later finds out that a former bandmate seemingly sabotaged the band and her personal life. We Sold Our Souls is a creative horror with a musical backdrop.
An act of violence leads Kris Pulaski on a journey to confront Terry Hunt, the man who ruined her life and broke up the heavy metal band Dürt Würk years prior. The suspense found within We Sold Our Souls is worth the read alone.
We Sold Our Souls is a wonderful novel and worth a read. You can purchase it on Amazon here.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan came together to write the charming romance novel Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. The story centers around New York’s indie rock scene that brings Nick and Norah together for a wild night.
Sometimes a wild night doesn’t just result in a hangover. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist shows how the love of music can change your life and help you take the necessary steps to find inner happiness.
You can purchase Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist on Amazon here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Novels Listed Stand Out To You?
The Violin Conspiracy, Bel Canto, Swing, and We Sold Our Souls are incredible. They are unique and tell compelling stories.
Why Are So Many Novels In The Music Genre Told In The 1970s?
There is a lot of love for the 1960s and 1970s music and lifestyle. While I enjoy the more complex story arcs, there is a range of novels in that timeframe focusing on different stories.
What Makes Daisy Jones & The Six Popular?
Other than great marketing, it’s a gripping story of how a legendary band came together along with the ups and downs of the rock star lifestyle. The plot is well down and fully investigates the world of Daisy.
What Effect Will The Daisy Jones & The Six Series Have On The Genre?
I’m not sure it will have much of a direct impact. The stories that can be told with music as a key element are practically endless.
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