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3 Great Rock Books to Read This Month

From the true story to story of Los Angeles punk scene to great music rivalries, don’t miss these non-fiction reads

BOOKS

In the mood for drugs and debauchery? John Doe co-founded the band X, so he has firsthand knowledge of the birth of the Los Angeles punk scene. In his book, Under the Big Black Sun, members of X, the Minutemen and the Go-Go's tell the true story. Rich Cohen also has plenty of parties to recount in his new book, The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, since he was there with the Stones on tour. And if you need to prove a point to a know-it-all friend who's arguing why Kanye and Taylor Swift have an ongoing beef, Steven Hyden's Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me has all the details.

Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me

Why Pop Rivalries Matter

Got beef? In his highly entertaining new book, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me: What Pop Music Rivalries Reveal About the Meaning of Life, Steven Hyden – of the late sports-and-culture site Grantland – analyzes classic standoffs with a sportscaster's breathlessness: Beatles vs. Stones, Biggie vs. Tupac, Kanye vs. Taylor. His impulse is less to pick winners than to figure out why we care. "It's about sympathizing with a particular worldview represented by an artist over a different worldview represented by an 'opposing' artist," Hyden writes. "You are what you love – and also what you choose not to love."

The historical data is fun to sift through – did Scott Stapp really challenge Fred Durst to a charity boxing match? – and Hyden's adjudication is fast and furious. "The Black Keys are successful, but the White Stripes are legendary," he writes. It's also nice that he has personal skin in the game. The Prince vs. Michael Jackson chapter tilts into an exploration of Hyden's high school social struggles and the myth of geekiness, while the Miley Cyrus-Sinéad O'Connor conflict becomes a meditation on aging in pop's cult of youth. Whatever side you take in these endless debates, Hyden's a dude worth arguing with. –Will Hermes

An Obssesive Fan on the Trail of Mick and Keith

Partying With the Rolling Stones

Growing up in the Eighties, Rich Cohen was obsessed with the Rolling Stones. "It's my Hemingway, Dickens, Homer," he writes. So he jumped at the chance, as a 26-year-old freelancer for Rolling Stone, to spend two weeks with the band as it launched 1994's Voodoo Lounge tour. Cohen was with the Stones on several later tours as well, first as a writer for RS, then as Mick Jagger's screenwriting partner on a project that eventually became HBO's Vinyl. Cohen's new book, The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, draws on those experiences while providing a fresh take on dusty topics like Altamont and the Stones' relationship with the Beatles (who, it seems, understood the Stones before the Stones did, which was partly why Lennon and McCartney wrote their first big hit). Cohen takes pilgrimages to places like Nellcôte, the French mansion where the Stones made Exile on Main Street, and recounts fascinating moments from his time on tour: He sees Jagger debate with his publicist if he should have his photo taken with Steven Tyler, and parties with Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Steve Winwood in a Four Seasons hotel. "I'd always sensed there were people somewhere having more fun than me," Cohen writes. "I'd always believed there was a better party. And I'd found it!" –Patrick Doyle