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10 Great Books about Music by Female Writers

Earlier this week the folk over at Pitchfork published a collection of their favorite music books. It’s a pretty comprehensive list, encompassing everything from Mötley Crüe’s tragicomic memoir The Dirt to Jon Savage’s erudite punk tome England’s Dreaming. We couldn’t help noticing, however, that of the 60 books on show, precisely one was written solely by a woman (along with a couple where there’s a female co-author, and one anthology of women writers). We’re not suggesting that Pitchfork has gone out of its way to exclude women — the fact is that, sadly, like much of the music industry, music criticism remains very much a boys’ club. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re entirely blameless. Here are ten great books about music written by women that really should have at least merited consideration.

Kristin Hersh, Rat Girl

Here at Flavorpill, we heart Kristin Hersh (especially when she tweets nice things about us). We also loved her 2010 memoir Rat Girl, which was based on the diaries she kept during a particularly tumultuous period of her life — specifically, late 1985 and early 1986, when Throwing Muses’ career started to take off, but Hersh herself was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and also gave birth to her first child. Her writing is full of the dramatic energy that characterizes her songwriting, but it’s also funny and self-effacing. Rat Girl does a beautiful job of capturing the runaway train of adolescence, the feeling that you don’t know where you’re going, but you can’t stay where you are.

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