The 13 Best Country Music Books

7 min read

Country music is a genre that has delighted and captivated audiences for generations. It’s roots are in Appalachian folk songs, but it now encompasses many different styles from bluegrass to country-rock. With so much variety, there’s something out there for everyone! This article reviews some of the best books on this topic – each one offering an insightful look into the history, personalities and culture behind country music. Whether you’re looking to discover a new favorite artist or delve deeper into your already established favorites, these books have something for every fan of this beloved musical style.

  1. Country Music: An Illustrated History

    Country Music: An Illustrated History
    Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns
    Published in 2019

    This magnificent book offers a broad overview of the history and development of Country Music. It is based on an eight-part documentary series, featuring interviews with many of the genre’s biggest stars such as Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, and Rosanne Cash. The extensive text is accompanied by rare photographs and anecdotes that bring to life the stories behind some of country music’s most iconic singers and songwriters. With its captivating narrative that speaks to both long-time fans and newcomers alike, this amazing volume will take you through decades of American culture in all its diversity—from honky tonk to gospel, bluegrass to rockabilly—and reveals what lies at the very heart of this extraordinary musical tradition: profound human emotion expressed from one generation to another.

  2. Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust

    Me & Patsy Kickin' Up Dust
    Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton
    Published in 2021

    Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust is a remarkable memoir of the legendary relationship between country music icons Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. An insight into their lives in the 1960s South, this book provides an emotionally charged account of how they defied convention to form an unbreakable bond that changed the face of Country Music forever. Full of heartwarming memories, poignant moments, and rib-tickling laughter – as well as bittersweet reflections on love and loss – this moving saga reveals both sides of these two pioneering women: tender yet tenacious; daring yet devoted. Written by Loretta herself with candor and clarity, Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust pays homage to those who dared to challenge tradition for friendship’s sake, making it an essential read for anyone interested in female friendships or classic country tunes!

  3. Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics

    Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics
    Dolly Parton, Robert K. Oermann
    Published in 2020

    Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is an incredible celebration of the life and career of a true icon. This volume gives readers an unprecedented look at Dolly’s journey through her own words as she highlights 175 songs. Packed with never-before-seen photographs from her personal archives, this book provides fans with an intimate peek into the stories behind beloved classics like “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and more. With interviews on Oprah, Stephen Colbert, The Today Show, Marie Claire and more; insightful essays by Annie Barrows and Jacqueline Rogers; plus Kirkus Reviews calling it “a splashy entertainment guide” – this show-stopping must have for every music lover is perfect for any special occasion.

  4. The Encyclopedia of Country Music

    The Encyclopedia of Country Music
    The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Michael McCall, John Rumble, Paul Kingsbury, Vince Gill
    Published in 2012

    The Encyclopedia of Country Music is the definitive reference book on this much-loved American music genre, spanning nine decades of history and artistry. This extensively revised new edition has been compiled by a team of experts at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, with over 1,200 A-Z entries covering everything from country’s first commercially successful recording to contemporary artists such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. With hundreds of images including album covers, fascinating appendices on awards and bestsellers lists, plus a foreword by Grammy Award winner Vince Gill – it makes an invaluable resource for fans. The Seattle Times called it “an authoritative book” while Billboard Magazine described it as “perhaps the best single-volume reference work”. For educators, historians or just plain enthusiasts alike – this alluring volume sets new standards in its field.

  5. The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard

    The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard
    Marc Eliot
    Published in 2022

    The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard is a comprehensive biography by Marc Eliot about the legendary country music artist. It covers his impressive musical career that spanned decades, as well as exploring both his accomplishments and notorious dark side. With in-depth research and over one hundred interviews with people who knew or were influenced by him, this book details the unique American life of an individual struggling to break free from adversity while creating powerful art that impacted millions around the world. Readers will be captivated by its vivid anecdotes which provide insight into Haggard’s character and gives readers an appreciation for why he remains an icon within the genre today. This definitive account celebrates all aspects of Merle’s story – including his vices – making it essential reading for fans of biographies on iconic musicians.

  6. I Lived to Tell It All

    I Lived to Tell It All
    George Jones, Tom Carter
    Published in 1997

    George Jones’ autobiography, I Lived to Tell It All, is a compelling story of the highs and lows of his life. The book delves into his humble East Texas upbringing that would eventually lead him to become one of country music’s most iconic singers. Despite experiencing fame at its fullest extent – from womanizing to boozing and brawling – it was ultimately the love from wife Nancy which enabled George to clean up his act and get back on track. This honest tale brings readers along for an intense rollercoaster ride as we explore how he dealt with the price tag associated with celebrity status. An incredibly raw account by this legendary singer-songwriter will leave fans in awe; demonstrating why ‘The Possum’ should be remembered forever through his remarkable voice and captivating story.

  7. Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship

    Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship
    Willie Nelson, David Ritz
    Published in 2022

    This book, Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship is an inspiring account of the special bond between country music icon Willie Nelson and his long-term drummer and right-hand man Paul English. It paints vivid pictures of their life on tour in the early days of Americana Music as they put on shows, got into scrapes, raised money for good causes, all while bringing joy to fans worldwide. The story details decades worth of stories that have become legendary but many remained untold until now; written with Willie’s unique style it will touch readers’ hearts as they read about this unbreakable friendship. This compelling narrative offers insight into two lives lived fully by living from the heart – an excellent read which any true Willie fan should not miss out on!

  8. Her Country

    Her Country
    Marissa R. Moss
    Published in 2022

    Her Country, the latest book by award-winning Nashville journalist Marissa R. Moss, provides an insightful and revelatory look into the last two decades of country music; a time in which women such as Shania Twain and the Chicks dominated the charts yet were met with deep resistance from an industry that wanted to keep them quiet. Through compelling stories of artists like Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert and Brandi Carlile’s struggles against gender biases and oppressive systems designed to hold them back, readers will gain understanding on how these trailblazers have revolutionized their place in this genre – transforming it for good. With precise detail about each singer’s journey through stardom combined with reflection upon issues around racism within mainstream radio playlists today, Her Country is sure to be illuminating reading for both fans of country music or those seeking greater insight into its history.

  9. Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes

    Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life's Changes
    Lauren Akins, Mark Dagostino
    Published in 2020

    In Lauren Akins’ refreshing memoir, Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes, readers are invited to take a journey into the life of country music star Thomas Rhett and his wife. The book offers an intimate look at their marriage—from their childhood friendship through reconnecting as young adults; from navigating fame and balancing family life to finding purpose through mission work abroad. Deeply personal yet inspiring stories detail how this couple has managed to remain rooted in love and faith throughout all of life’s changes. With its heart-warming romance, moments of vulnerability, and guidance for staying connected with loved ones despite tumultuous times, this is a must-read for anyone looking for inspiration on how best to live out meaningful lives together – whether married or not!

  10. Waylon: An Autobiography

    Waylon: An Autobiography
    Waylon Jennings, Lenny Kaye
    Published in 1996

    Waylon Jennings’ autobiography, Waylon: An Autobiography, provides an intimate look into the life of one of country music’s greatest stars. From his poverty stricken childhood in West Texas to playing bass for Buddy Holly on his last tour and beyond, this soulful book is both captivating and honest. Jennings never shies away from discussing money troubles, personal feuds or drug habits in great detail – but it’s all done with a touch of charm that makes him incredibly endearing. His story also serves as a reminder that hard work can pay off; he eventually found success after meeting his now-wife Jessi Colter. It’s likely to be essential reading for any fan of pop music who wants to learn more about the genre through its most iconic figures!

  11. The Music of The Statler Brothers: An Anthology

    The Music of The Statler Brothers: An Anthology
    Don Reid
    Published in 2020

    The Music of The Statler Brothers: An Anthology is an in-depth look at the forty year musical career of one of country music’s premier groups. Written by lead singer Don Reid, this song-by-song chronicle delves into the compositions and selections that made up these Grammy Award winners’ albums. Offering a behind the scenes glimpse into the entertainment industry, Reid gives meaningful insight from his own experiences as both a writer with hundreds of recordings to his name and member of two Halls Of Fame. This must read for fans or lovers of country/gospel music provides readers with more than just a peek beneath their curtain; its content and style are second to none! It covers 45 original albums offering nostalgia for those who have followed them throughout their journey as well as admiration for how they’ve achieved such longevity within the business.

  12. Cash: The Autobiography

    Cash: The Autobiography
    Johnny Cash
    Published in 2003

    In Cash: The Autobiography, Johnny Cash shines a light on his remarkable life. From the joys of his childhood in Dyess, Arkansas to superstardom in Nashville and beyond, he narrates an honest account of highs and lows – including addiction battles and personal triumphs. Although this memoir does not provide extensive details about every aspect of his career or life story, it offers insight into Cash’s spiritual journey with candor, wit and wisdom that provides readers with an unforgettable experience. With stories from Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson among others; this powerful book is filled with reflections that will leave fans feeling inspired by one of America’s most iconic troubadours.

  13. George Jones

    George Jones
    Bob Allen
    Published in 2014

    Bob Allen’s biography of George Jones, “George Jones”, is an insightful look into the life and career of one of country music’s most celebrated singers. The book chronicles his early beginnings as a street singer in Texas to his rise to international fame over the course of nearly six decades. It also delves deep into the personal travails that plagued him throughout much of this time – turmoil exacerbated by addiction issues. With help from fourth wife Nancy, however, he was able to turn things around and find peace before leaving us at age 81. This masterful narrative combines facts with vivid descriptions for an engaging read that will be appreciated by fans old and new alike; it provides unique historical insight not only into George Jones but also modern country music itself.

Additional resources

If you’re looking for more information on country music, check out these websites:

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