The best kind of collectible is one with both class and practical purpose. It should both bring joy and look nice. What could fit that description better than an old (or new!) vinyl record ready to hit your turntable and fill your home with music? As a dedicated record fan myself, I may be somewhat biased. I have been known to truck 30 pounds of vinyl records through downtown New York in a tote bag, giddy with the knowledge that I could trade them for other vinyl records at one particular store in Manhattan. Obsessive? Perhaps slightly. Even so, I’m not alone! You’re here too, and so are the authors and characters of these four books about vinyl. Join the club, put on an album, and read up!
Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues, and Coming of Age Through Vinyl by Rashod Ollison
Ollison’s fascinating life revolved around the soul records that eventually led him to his career as a music journalist. While maturing into a talented writer and industry pillar, he also came to terms with his homosexuality and racial identity in a world where a Black gay man didn’t always find an immediate niche. While the author sadly passed away in 2018 at the age of 41, this book keeps his legacy alive and celebrates the life of someone whose life was in every way fascinating and beautiful. If you’re at all into biographies, this is an unmissable read.
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Music heals wounds and brings people together—and nothing does that better than the particular experience of listening to a record in good company! This touching story by the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry explores that dynamic between two strangers. The year is 1988 and Frank’s business is music. His shop sells vinyl records of every type and and genre, and he’s pretty sure he’s content with that…until Ilse Brauchmann walks in and upends his life. She wants to learn about music, but in the end, they both may learn much more about Frank. If you liked her previous bestseller, this British author is well worth checking out again!
Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich
45s aren’t the only game in town! Some of the little records go for incredible prices…and inspire outlandish behavior in the people who are obsessed with them. This work of nonfiction is half Antiques Roadshow, half community radio station, and all fun. There’s never a bad time to read about the random stuff that secretly drives your friends and neighbors. It’s half the fun of reading books about vinyl: seeing just how far other people will go to collect and acquire. The other half is knowing that if you had spare time and a small fortune to blow, you’d probably do just the same.
Blood Vinyls by Yolanda J. Franklin
This book earned a 5-star rating from Roxane Gay, who praised it by saying that there was not a weak poem in the book. The author organized this collection of moving works about Southern Black womanhood around the structure of a vinyl record, and each poem can be read as a track instead of a piece. Mimicking the structure of a record gives the whole book the feel of a great album on vinyl. Whether you’re into poetry, books about vinyl records, music, or the experiences of Black women, this book will feed your heart.
Looking for music books? Of course you are. The side’s almost done by now and you need to choose a new record! Check out our 50 must-reads!
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