Oral histories, insider music takes and sweeping dramas for your bookshelf.
Daisy Jones And The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was one of the biggest breakout books of 2019 as hordes of us fell for the hedonistic tale of the eponymous 70s fictional rock band. Winner of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction and a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, Daisy Jones is a talented singer on the rise. However, when she’s paired with The Six – a blues rock band – its leader Billy Dunne (who also happens to be married to the incredible Camila) winds up falling for both her talent and the singer herself.
Filled with of-the-era gossip (it’s partly inspired by the complex intertwining love stories of Fleetwood Mac with nods to A Star Is Born), Jenkins Reid’s novel is written as a convincing oral history featuring interviews with all the band and the people surrounding them.
In fact, the book has been such a massive hit that Reese Witherspoon is producing a 12-episode series starring Mad Max and American Honey actress Riley Keough (fittingly, Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) opposite Enola Holmes and The Hunger Games star Sam Claflin as the magnetic Billy Dunne, with Suki Waterhouse playing keyboardist Karen Karen and Camila Morrone as Camila Dunne.
Inspired by Jenkins Reid’s new follow-up book, Malibu Rising, we’ve selected six books that will make the perfect reads for anyone who loved Daisy Jones and the nostalgic atmosphere of The Six’s rise and fall and rise again…
The new Daisy Jones: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Perfectly evoking the sun-drenched and debauched backdrop that made Daisy Jones And The Six so immersive, Jenkins Reid’s new book is all about a famous family called the Rivas in 1980s Malibu. Each of the siblings is someone special: Nina is a talented surfer and supermodel; brother Jay is a championship surfer while Hud is a renowned photographer – and then there’s the wry baby sister of the family, Kit.
As the family prepare to throw one of their iconic summer parties in August 1983, the history of their parents’ toxic relationship is slowly unravelled while the siblings’ loyal bonds and personal strength come to the fore as the night descends into chaos. Addictive and fun, it’s an essential addition to your summer reading list.
The must-read music story: The Final Revival Of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Described by Ta-Nehisi Coates as, “One of the most immersive novels I’ve ever read … a thrilling work”, this is a fictional oral history that delves into the story of Opal and Nev – an Afro-punk duo in 1970s New York. Unwilling to accept the status quo, Opal is an ambitious, innovative and talented singer but also a complex and blazing woman who’s experienced first-hand the racism and violence that underpin America. Leading up to a shocking act and the aftermath of the pair’s collaboration, Walton has created an entirely believable and powerful universe that looks at race, talent, envy and forgiveness and is filled with emotion. It’s one of the books of the year.
The real-life version: Meet Me In The Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman
The real-life music oral history that’ll leave your head spinning, this is a no-holds-barred look at the early 2000s New York music scene that witnessed the rise of The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and Vampire Weekend.
Just as the bottom was falling out of the guitar music industry thanks to pirating, Britney and boy bands, Williamsburg gave birth to a cutting-edge music scene that took over everything from fashion to tech but behind the success was a darker side. Accusations of well-known singers encouraging friends to take up heroin, less talented bands aping the sound and the inevitable decline of an iconic moment are told via interviews with everyone who was there front and centre.
The thriller oral history: True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
Knox’s twisting tale is a fictional ‘found-footage’ book. Contacted by Evelyn Mitchell, Sirens author Knox enters his own book to become a sounding post for the struggling (if talented) writer who’s trying to uncover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of a Manchester student called Zoe Nolan.
Evelyn is onto something after she interviews Zoe’s twin sister, Kim, who reveals that she was kidnapped by men in a van before being inexplicably dumped on an industrial site. Sending Knox interviews, tapes and newspaper clippings, Evelyn begins to build up a picture of what could have taken place the night of Zoe’s disappearance, while the friends and family who loved her start to fall under suspicion. It’s a story that’ll leave your head spinning and questioning just who gets to shape the narrative when a woman goes missing…
The coming-of-age: Mary Jane: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau
Set in 1970s Baltimore, Mary Jane is a wonderful coming-of-age story as shy and organised 14-year-old Mary Jane lands a summer job as a nanny to the local doctor. Walking into a liberal whirlwind of chaos, her experience is even more complicated by the arrival of a rock star who’s taking refuge in the doctor’s house to dry out with his movie star wife. A tale of clashing cultures and a slow awakening of ideas, hope and beliefs, this is one of those novels you’ll be so glad to lose yourself to. It’s also perfect for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld books – and we can give it no higher praise…
The love story: Songs In Ursa Major by Emma Brodie
Partly inspired by the relationship between legendary songwriters Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, Songs In Ursa Major (out 24 June) tells the story of two singers: folk star Jesse Reid and prodigy Jane Quinn.
Tackling sexism in the music industry (Jane is treated like a brainless commodity), drug addiction and repressed secrets, it’s also a sweeping tale of the 1960s music scene that evokes the chaos and massive pressure of being in the middle of an incredible era. Utterly transporting, it’ll inspire a folk-tinged soundtrack for the summer.
Images: courtesy of publishers
Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown