What Books About Grunge Music are the Best?

If you’re looking for the best books about grunge music, look no further. This list of essential reads covers everything from the history of the genre to the biggest bands.

What is Grunge Music?

Grunge is a subgenre of alternative rock and a subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the Pacific Northwest U.S. state of Washington, particularly in Seattle and nearby towns. The early grunge movement revolved around Seattle’s independent record label Sub Pop and the region’s underground music scene. By the early 1990s its popularity had spread, with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other parts of the United States and in Australia, building strong followings and signing major record deals.

Grunge music is typically characterized by heavily distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and vocals backed by angst-filled lyrics. Grunge became commercially successful in the first half of the 1990s due mainly to Nirvana’s breakthrough album Nevermind (1991), Pearl Jam’s popularity and Garbage’s debut album. Some bands signed to major labels achieved commercial success while others remained important but were less mainstream. Grunge became less popular with mainstream audiences during 1994–95 as part of an overall decline in alternative rock following Nirvana’s death; many grunge bands broke up or ceased recording new material at that time. During this period, post-grunge morphed into nu metal with bands such as Staind supply mainstream rock radio stations with singles until reaching their mainstream peak between 1998 and 2002 with albums such as Dysfunction (1999), Break the Cycle (2001) and 14 Shades of Gray (2002).

The Best Grunge Music Books

If you want to learn about grunge music, then you should read one of these books about the genre. All of these books offer different perspectives on grunge music, and they are all essential in understanding the history of the genre.

Touch Me I’m Sick: The Untold Story of Grunge

Touch Me I’m Sick is one of the most famous grunge music books. It tells the story of grunge music from its beginnings in the 1980s to its explosion onto the mainstream scene in the early 1990s. The book covers all of the major grunge bands, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. It’s a must-read for any fan of grunge music.

Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana

Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana is a 1993 biography of the American rock band Nirvana written by Michael Azerrad. The book was published on October 1, 1993, by Doubleday. According to Azerrad, the book was intended to be “the first serious, objective study” of Nirvana and Cobain.

Azerrad began writing Come as You Are in 1992, while grunge was still an underground musical movement. He conducted numerous interviews with people close to the band during the course of his research, including Kurt Cobain’s mother Wendy O’Connor, his ex-girlfriend Tobi Vail, and former bandmate Krist Novoselic. In addition to interviews, Azerrad also relied heavily on Nirvana’s primary source materials, including bootleg recordings and Cobain’s journals.

The book was generally well-received by critics. In a review for The New York Times, Jon Pareles praisedAzerrads ability to provide “fair-mindedness and compassion” in his assessment of Cobain’s life and work. Similarly, Robert Christgau wrote that the book was “admirable” in its attempt to understand Nirvana and Cobain from an insider’s perspective.

Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music

This is the story of grunge as told by those who were there from the beginning and lived through it. Grunge is Dead is an oral history that captures the stories, experiences, and often contradictory memories of those who were part of the grunge scene in Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The book is organized chronologically, starting with a brief history of Seattle rock music in the 1980s leading up to the explosion of grunge in 1991. It then takes the reader through the height of grunge in the early 1990s, culminating with Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994. The book includes interviews with over 100 people, including musicians, producers, managers, journalists, and others.

Grunge is Dead paints a picture of a community of people who were passionate about their music and their scene, but who were also struggling with addiction, poverty, and insecurity. It’s a story of ambition and success, but also of disappointment and heartbreak. Ultimately, it’s a tribute to a music scene that changed popular culture forever.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article! I hope it was informative and helped you decide which grunge music book is right for you. If you have any suggestions for other titles or think I missed something, please let me know in the comments below.

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