Books of the Year 2018
Discover our top titles for 2018! A reflection of staff picks, unique events, Rough Trade community favourites as well as what you guys talk to us about. Plus! This year we've managed to get our hands on a limited number of signed copies for many of the titles in our list. So go on, get scrollin'!
1. Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz
Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam "AD-ROCK" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond offer revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the almost impossible-to-fathom overnight success of their debut studio album Licensed to Ill; that album's messy fallout; their break with Def Jam, move to Los Angeles, and rebirth as musicians and social activists, with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul's Boutique. For more than twenty years, this band has had a wide-ranging and lasting influence on popular culture.
With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys' New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises.
Start flicking through the pages and you'll see why this is our clear winner for Book of the Year.
2. Ripped and Torn by Tony Drayton
Ripped and Torn was one of the first punk fanzines, and continued long after others like Sniffing Glue had stopped. Ripped and Torn began in in Glasgow in November 1976 and carried on into the next wave of punk. It ran for eighteen issues, all of which are faithfully reproduced in this book. By punks and for punks, Ripped and Torn is a fascinating document of the punk subculture and a sacred text of DIY culture.
Exclusive copies signed by Tony Drayton and Thurston Moore.
3. Let's Go (So We Can Get Back) by Jeff Tweedy
Through his pioneering work in the legendary country-punk band, Uncle Tupelo, to his enduring legacy as the creative force behind the unclassifiable sound of Wilco, Jeff Tweedy has weaved his way between the underground and the mainstream - and back again.
Funny, disarming, and deeply honest, his memoir casts light on his unique creative process and the stories that shaped his life and career, from a childhood spent in Illinois to the release of No Depression in the early 90's - which set the blueprint for alt-country - and later working with Mavis Staples and, posthumously, Woody Guthrie.
4. We Were Strangers - Various
Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division's debut album, is their definite document, a brooding, thrilling record whose cryptic contents have haunted the imaginations of generations of listeners. The ten new stories in We Were Strangers, each of which takes its title and inspiration from a song on the album, offer an original, distinctive and wide-ranging response.
Comes with limited edition postcard set.
5. Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval
A lyrical and uncompromising debut novel from a highly acclaimed musician and artist, who has achieved renown for the sharpness of her work, and its sexual and political imagery. This debut novel from critically acclaimed artist and musician Jenny Hval, presents a heady and hyper-sensual portrayal of sexual awakening and queer desire.
6. Running Upon the Wires by Kate Tempest
Running Upon The Wires is, in a sense, a departure from her previous work, and unashamedly personal and intimate in its address but will also confirm Tempest's role as one of our most important poetic truth tellers: it will be no surprise to readers to discover that she's no less a direct and unflinching observer of matters of the heart than she is of social and political change. Running Upon The Wires is a heartbreaking, moving and joyous book about love, in its endings and in its beginnings.
Limited number signed. CD available here.
7. Mars by 1980 by David Stubbs
Electronic music is now ubiquitous, from mainstream pop hits to the furthest reaches of the avant-garde. The future, a long time coming, finally arrived. But how did we get here? A tale of mavericks and future dreamers overcoming Luddite resistance, malfunctioning devices, and sonic mayhem.
Pre-order number signed copies here.
8. The Hard Stuff by Wayne Kramer
Kramer's story is a revolutionary one, but it is also the deeply personal struggle of an addict and an artist. From the glory days of Detroit to the junk-sick streets of the East Village - in and out of prison and on and off drugs - this is the classic journeyman narrative, but with a twist: Kramer is here to remind us that revolution is always an option.
9. All Gates Open by Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt
All Gates Open is a music book like no other. Its subject is Can, arguably the most important experimental group of the twentieth century. The book comprises two elements of equal weight: a biography of the group by Rob Young and a Symposium curated by Irmin Schmidt. The latter explores, in Irmin's own voice and that of his collaborators and admirers, the tentacular influence Can have had upon not just popular music, but also the visual arts, poetry and film
10. Pessimism is for Lightweights by Salena Godden
A collection of 13 pieces of courage and resistance, these are poems written for, during and after attending protests and rallies. Poems written for the women's march, for women's empowerment and amplification, poems that salute people fighting for justice, poems on sexism and racism, class discrimination, period poverty and homelessness, asylum seekers, immigration and identity.
Limited signed copies.
11. Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far by Stormzy
In three years Stormzy has risen from one of the most promising musicians of his generation to a spokesperson for a generation. Rise Up is the story of how he got there. It’s a story about faith and the ideas worth fighting for. It’s about knowing where you’re from, and where you’re going. It’s about following your dreams without compromising who you are.
Featuring hundreds of never-before-seen photographs, annotated lyrics and contributions from those closest to him, Rise Up is Stormzy’s story, in his words, and the record of a journey unlike any other.
50 signed copies. Pre-order here.
12. How to Be Invisible by Kate Bush
Selected and arranged by the author, with an expansive introduction by the novelist David Mitchell, How To Be Invisible presents the lyrics of Kate Bush for the first time in a beautiful cloth-bound Faber edition.
Released 6th December.
13. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney set the books world buzzing last year with her debut Conversations With Friends; Normal People is a girl-meets-boy story with a difference, interrogating the difficulties of sincere communication in a complicated, post-ironic world. It's even more unusual and assured than her first book. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
14. Nothing is Real by David Hepworth
In this wide-ranging collection of essays, he shows how it is possible to take music seriously and, at the same time, not drain the life out of it. From the legacy of The Beatles to the dramatic decline of the record shop, from top tips for bands starting out to the bewildering nomenclature of musical genres, with characteristic insight and humour, he explores the highways and byways of this vast multiverse where Nothing Is Real and yet it is, emphatically and intrinsically so.
Pre-order signed copies here.
15. Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry by Florence Welch
A beautifully illustrated collection of lyrics and never-before-seen poetry and sketches from Florence Welch.
Songs can be incredibly prophetic, like subconscious warnings or messages to myself, but I often don't know what I'm trying to say till years later. Or a prediction comes true and I couldn't do anything to stop it, so it seems like a kind of useless magic.
Comes with limited edition postcard set.
16. Chamber Music by Will Ashon
As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualise, reveal and honour this singularly composite work of art. From the FBI's war on drugs to the porn theatres of 42nd street, from the history of jazz to the future of politics, Chamber Music is an explosive and revelatory new way of writing about music and culture.
17. The Luckiest Guy Alive by John Cooper Clarke
Punk. Poet. Pioneer. The Bard of Salford's The Luckiest Guy Alive, is his first in over thirty years. These are poems as scabrous, wry and vivid as only John Cooper Clarke could deliver. Inimitable and iconic, this collection will be a complete joy for lifelong fans and a whole new generation.
Limited signed copies of CD here.
18. Point of View by Chris Stein
At once a chronicle of one music icon's life among his punk and New-Wave heroes and peers, and a love letter to the city that was the backdrop and inspiration for those scenes, P.O.V. transports us to another place and time.
19. Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor by Dave Haslam
In the late 1970s, a teenage John Peel listener and Joy Division fan, Haslam's face was pressed against a window, looking out at a world of music, books, ideas. In 2017, four decades later, he finds himself in the middle of that world, collaborating with New Order on a series of five shows in Manchester.
Haslam builds a rich context to the story of those decades; a definitive portrait of Manchester as a music city; the impact of life-shaking events (from the nightmare of the Yorkshire Ripper to the shock of the Manchester Arena terror attack); and how music has soundtracked his life, his times, his generation.
Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor is a masterful insider account of the Hacienda, the rise of Madchester and the birth of the rave era, and so much more . . .
20. Imagine John Yoko by John / Yoko
Written, compiled and curated by Yoko Ono, Imagine John Yoko is the definitive inside story - told in revelatory detail - of the making of the album and all that surrounded it. John and Yoko introduce each chapter and song; Yoko also provides invaluable additional commentary and a preface. All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks - including the creative process behind the double exposure polaroids used on the album cover. With a message as universal and pertinent today as it was when the album was created, this landmark publication is a fitting tribute to John & Yoko and their place in cultural history.
21. Sundog by Scott Walker
His new book Sundog is the first ever selection of Walker's lyrics curated by the artist himself, published for the first time with a stunning introduction by Eimear McBride. Walker's iconic lyrics will proudly follow in the footsteps of other famous musicians who have been published by Faber & Faber, including Jarvis Cocker, Billy Bragg, and Van Morrison.
£100 off deluxe edition RRP.
22. The First Time by Matt Everitt
Taken from Matt Everitt's acclaimed BBC Radio 6 Music show, The First Time invites you inside the lives of 40 of the music world's most notable legends. From Alice Cooper to Yoko Ono, Courtney Love to Elton John, follow their lives and careers starting with their first musical memories, first records and first gigs, finding out the songs that have shaped them along the way.
23. Kill 'Em All by John Niven
It is 2017 – the time of Trump, Brexit and fake news. And time for the return of Steven Stelfox, exactly twenty years on from his Britpop heyday. For this age of ‘American carnage’ – of populism, of the lowest common denominator, of the Big Lie – is truly Stelfox’s time to shine. But in this time of uncertainty, nothing is a given.
Pre-order signed copies here.
24. One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem by Neil Tennant
Over a career that spans four decades and thirteen studio albums with Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant has consistently proved himself to be one of the most elegant and stylish of contemporary lyricists. Arranged alphabetically, One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem presents an overview of his considerable achievement as a chronicler of modern life: the romance, the break-ups, the aspirations, the changing attitudes, the history, the politics, the pain.
25. Solo Piano by Erased Tapes
A collection of twenty newly-arranged scores published for the first time and presented alongside bespoke programme notes from Erased Tapes founder Robert Raths. From Ólafur Arnalds’ 0040 through to recent songs from ambient music duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Solo Piano offers an engaging chronological survey of the label’s first ten years.