Books of the Year 2017

Each year we pick our top 20 Books Of The Year - a reflection of the Rough Trade team's favorite reads, what our customers talk to us about and what’s been in most demand across our shops. Plus, we've managed to get our hands on a limited number of signed copies for many of the titles in this year's list. Enjoy!


1. Mute: A Visual Document by Terry Burrows & Daniel Miller

The definitive history of the influential label that brought us Throbbing Gristle, The Birthday Party, Depeche Mode and so much more. A vibrant 40-year archive of album artwork, insider interviews and unseen photographs. Beautifully bound, this book is as iconic and dynamic as Mute’s musical past.

2. Art Sex Music by Cosey Fanni Tutti

From Throbbing Gristle to the art world, Cosey Fanni Tutti has always been an influencer and risk taker. Art Sex Music charts her creative life: the provocative performances with COUM, as a ‘wrecker of civilisation’ with TG, Chris & Cosey and beyond. An intimate account of a career of controversy.

3. Grant and I: Inside and Outside The Go-Betweens by Robert Foster

One of the finest music memoirs out there. With touching detail, Forster has crafted an honest history of The Go-Betweens and an intensely moving tribute to his bandmate Grant McLennan. From endearing beginnings to early farewells, there’s emotion in these pages only a lyricist like Forster can create.

4. Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman

Under the mournful gaze of Lady Liberty, New York was generating a rejuvenated Rock ‘N’ Roll scene with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes and many more. Through comprehensive interviews, Lizzy Goodman charts the movement New York, and beyond, was hungry for post 9/11.

5. Sound System: The Political Power of Music by Dave Randall

Music’s age-old bond with politics and protest exposed. Guitarist Dave Randall examines the power of music from Glastonbury to the Arab Spring. An extensive insight into commodity and culture and music’s power to manipulate. A staggering, gripping history of impassioned musicians and the industry underbelly.

6. This Memorial Device by David Keenan

A truly original novel chronicling the fictional Scottish band, This Memorial Device. A collection of interviews, diary entries and email exchanges so vivid and bursting with sound you can almost hear it. Keenan’s Airdrie is a capsule of rich characters and the alternative 80s you can completely lose yourself in.

7. Memphis 68: The Tragedy of the Southern Soul by Stuart Cosgrove

A powerful, moving account of a turbulent America and the music at its heart. Intertwining politics and pop culture, Cosgrove writes the realities of segregation and soul. Memphis was the energetic hub of Stax Records but the county was in turmoil, still adjusting to the civil rights movement and racial integration.

8. Untypical Girls by Sam Knee

The king of the counterculture archive is back with a striking visual history of indie women. A trove of alternative fashion from Punk to Riot Grrrl. Using unseen photographs and interviews, it’s a true celebration of thrift store chic and DIY couture from the women who led the charge.

9. 2023: A Trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

23 years after burning a grand and leaving music, KLF have returned with a curious tale of an all-too-plausible dystopian future. Caricatures of Cauty and Drummond appear in a world under the command of terrifying corporations ‘GoogleByte’ and ‘Wikitube’. The provocateurs have upheld the level of lunacy and humour we’ve been missing.

10. No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

Klein is an essential voice for our time. No is Not Enough is her reaction to the Trump presidency and her cry to oppose it. Drawing on her own personal experiences, Klein encourages resistance, not just refusal. An intense, probing analysis that asks how we got here, and now what?

11. Finding Joseph I: An Oral History of HR by Howie Abrams

The legendary frontman of Bad Brains lost his mind and then, improbably, found his way back to sanity and stability.

12. What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump's America by Dennis Johnson

The election of Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States of America shocked and dismayed progressives across the country. What We Do Now, a collection of passionate manifestos by some of the country's leading progressives, aims to provide a blueprint for how those stunned progressives can move forward. Its powerful contributions — from economists, environmentalists, activists, artists, politicians, and novelists — will offer encouragement and guidance to practicing constitutionally protected acts of resistance throughout the unprecedented upcoming administration.

13. In Love With these Times: My Life With Flying Nun Records by Roger Shephard

Filled with revealing anecdote and insight, this is the definitive insider history of the one of the most innovative and original record labels of the modern era. "Surely the label with the highest quality output per capita in pop history." - Guardian UK.

14. F*ck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson

This ain’t no cookbook. This ain’t no memoir. This is Action Bronson’s devotional, a book about the overwhelming power of delicious—no, f*cking amazing—food. Bronson is this era’s Homer, and F*ck, That’s Delicious is a modern-day Odyssey, replete with orgiastic recipes, world travel, siren songs, and weed.

15. The Crunk Feminist Collection by Brittney C. Cooper, Susana M. Morris & Robin M. Boylorn

For the Crunk Feminist Collective, their academic day jobs were lacking in conversations they actually wanted-relevant, real conversations about how race and gender politics intersect with pop culture and current events. To address this void, they started a blog. Now with an annual readership of nearly one million, their posts foster dialogue about activist methods, intersectionality, and sisterhood.

16. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.

17. Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Wanda Jackson, Scott B. Bomar and Elvis Costello

In Every Night is Saturday Night, Wanda tells her own story of getting discovered by Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Thompson; shy she refused to return to The Grand Ole Opry for more than fifty years; the challenges she and her integrated band, The Party Timers, faced in the early 1960s; finding the love of her life; her recent work with rock luminaries Jack White and Joan Jett; and how her deep faith has sustained her over more than seven decades of rocking, shocking, and thrilling audiences around the globe.

18. The New Analog by Damon Krukowski

Having made his name in the late 1980s as a member of the indie band Galaxie 500, Damon Krukowski has watched cultural life lurch from analog to digital. Rather than simply rejecting the digital disruption of cultural life, Krukowski uses the sound engineer's distinction of signal and noise to reexamine what we have lost as a technological culture, looking carefully at what was valuable in the analog realm so we can hold on to it.

19. Life and Death on the Dance Floor 1980-1983 by Tim Lawrence

In Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor Tim Lawrence examines the city's party, dance, music, and art culture between 1980 and 1983, tracing the rise, apex, and fall of this inventive, vibrant, and tumultuous scene.

20. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

The only thing more beautiful than Beyoncé is God, and God is a black woman sipping rosé and drawing a lavender bath, texting her mom, belly-laughing in the therapist’s office, feeling unloved, being on display, daring to survive. Morgan Parker stands at the intersections of vulnerability and performance, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence. Unrelentingly feminist, tender, ruthless, and sequined, these poems are an altar to the complexities of black American womanhood in an age of non-indictments and deja vu, and a time of wars over bodies and power.