Rough Trade’s music books of the year 2023

books of the year

Rough Trade is celebrating a year of retail excellence with a carefully curated list of 25 of its Books of The Year.

Informed by staff sentiment, what’s been popular in-store, customer feedback and moments shared across its stores in 2023, the independent record store chain has released the names of its favourite books released this year.

The book of the year is the highly anticipated memoir from Thurston Moore, Sonic Life: A Memoir. The autobiography tells the tale of the iconic American musician and Sonic Youth frontman, from his childhood to his move to New York City, the forming of the cult band and their subsequent records and tours that spanned almost 30 years and changed the sound of modern-alternative rock music.

Thurston’s memoir can be pre-ordered online via Rough Trade, where limited-edition signed copies are available for £20 each, and include an A5 lyric print.

Nigel House, Director at Rough Trade, commented: “We opened our Rough Trade store (below Slam City Skates) in Neals Yard the same weekend as Daydream Nation was released in 1988.

“We managed to get Sonic Youth in to sign copies and it was the busiest day we ever had in the whole time we had a shop there – a really fun, really crazy day. The band were all very cool and I hope they enjoyed it as much as we, and our customers, did.

“Thurston’s book doesn’t get to Daydream Nation until chapter 53 (out of 71), so there’s loads about the early days in New York where he seemed to meet everyone in that downtown scene, seeing every band that ever mattered at that time.

“His book really captures the unadulterated joy and excitement about playing in a band, discovering bands, seeing them live, talking about them with your friends – the very essence of what we all love so much about music.”

Other titles featured in the list include Wesley Doyle’s ‘Conform To Deform: The Weird And Wonderful World Of Some Bizzare’, Jeremy Deller’s ‘Art is Magic’, Rick Rubin’s ‘The Creative Act: A Way of Being’, Eddie Otchere’s ‘Wu-Tang Clan 1994–2004’, Sly Stone’s ‘Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin’ and Jonny Banger’s ‘Sports Banger: Lifestyles of the Poor, Rich and Famous’.

Rough Trade is selling limited signed copies of nearly every title in the list, with some accompanied by exclusive extras such as prints and postcards.

The books are available to purchase at the independent record store chain’s five UK stores – Rough Trade West, East and Soho in London, Rough Trade Nottingham and Rough Trade Bristol, and online at its UK web store.

Sarah Mackillop, Book Buyer at Rough Trade UK, commented:

“Rough Trade’s book sales continue to grow year on year and significantly the breadth of our offer is expanding both in subject and the range of publishers we now work with.

“We’re thrilled to once again share our list of favourite books from the year, incorporating a wealth of topics and formats from both returning and debut titles.

“We’ve hosted close to 50 book events in 2023 and, like our in-store gigs, these continue to offer a unique opportunity for fans to engage with authors and musicians in our record store setting.”

Here’s the full list of titles:
1. Thurston Moore – Sonic Life (Faber)
2. Jeremy Deller – Art is Magic (Cheerio)
3. The Chemical Brothers with Robin Turner – Paused in Cosmic Reflection (The Chemical Brothers) (White Rabbit)
4. Rick Rubin – The Creative Act: A Way of Being (Canongate)
5. Sly Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (White Rabbit)
6. John Robb – The Art of Darkness: A History of Goth
7. Scott Hutchison – Living In Colour: The Art of Scott Hutchison (Faber Music)
8. Johnny Marr – Marr’s Guitars (Thames and Hudson)
9. Ian Broudie – Tomorrow’s Here Today: Lightning Seeds, Football and Cosmic Post-Punk (Nine Eight)
10. Simon Price – Curepedia: An A-Z of The Cure (White Rabbit)
11. Jonny Banger – Sports Banger: Lifestyles of the Poor, Rich & Famous (Thames and Hudson)
12. Richard Morton Jack – Nick Drake: The Life (John Murray)
13. Eddie Otchere – Wu-Tang Clan 1994–2004 (Cafe Royale)
14. Wesley Doyle – Conform To Deform: The Weird And Wonderful World Of Some Bizzare(Jawbone)
15. Will Sergeant – Echoes: A Memoir Continued… (Little Brown)
16. Wayne Hussey – Heady Daze: The Mission Years. 1985—1990 (Omnibus)
17. Nick Soulsby – Everything Keeps Dissolving: Conversations with Coil (Strange Attractor)
18. Lol Tolhurst – Goth: A History (Quercus)
19. John Grant – On Language (Rough Trade Books)
20. Audrey Golden – I Thought I Heard You Speak: Women at Factory Records (White Rabbit)
21. Arlo Parks – The Magic Border: Poetry and Fragments from My Soft Machine (Harper Collins)
22. Linton Kwesi Johnson – Time Come: Selected Prose (Macmillan)
23. Geezer Butler – Into the Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath – and Beyond (Harper Collins)
24. Tamsin Embleton – Touring and Mental Health: The Music Industry Manual (Omnibus)
25. Kae Tempest – Divisible By Itself and One (Macmillan)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments