10 Best Country Music Books to Add to Your Collection

Are you a country music fan? If so, I’ve got the perfect treat for you! You’ll love these 10 books about country music!

I have listed everything from biographies to historical accounts to memoirs; these books will give you a behind-the-scenes look at country music and the artists who have made it one of America’s most popular genres.

Whether you’re a long-time country fan or just getting started making country music of your own, these books are sure to entertain and inform. Add them to your reading list today!

10 Best Country Music Books to Add to Your Collection

1. Country Music USA: 50th Anniversary Edition

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If you love country music, you must read Bill Malone’s “Country Music USA: 50th Anniversary Edition.” This definitive history of American country music traces the music from its folk roots in the rural South to the present day.

Malone is a master of his subject, and he offers fresh insights and new information in this updated edition.

Tracey Laird’s chapters on country music in the new millennium are equally informative, making this an essential volume for anyone interested in this uniquely American art form.

2. Country Music: An Illustrated History

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Country Music: An Illustrated History is a gorgeously illustrated and hugely entertaining history of country music. It begins where country music itself emerged: the American South, where people sang to themselves and to their families at home and in church, and where they danced to fiddle tunes on Saturday nights.

With the birth of radio in the 1920s, the songs moved from small towns, mountain hollers, and the wide-open West to become the music of an entire nation–a diverse range of sounds and styles from honky tonk to gospel to bluegrass to rockabilly.

The book goes on to chronicle country music’s massive commercial success today.

3. Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be

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It’s hard to believe that only two decades have passed since country music was a woman’s world. Back then, stars like Shania Twain and The Chicks were topping the charts.

These days, however, women are sorely underrepresented on country radio. Thankfully, Her Country tells the full and unbridled story of the last twenty years of country music through the lens of Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Kacey Musgraves – their peers and inspirations, their paths to stardom, and their battles against a deeply embedded boys’ club.

This book is essential reading for anyone who loves country music – it’s an eye-opening look at how far we’ve come and how much still needs to be done to make country music more inclusive.

4. Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading Michael Streissguth’s Outlaw. It tells the story of three of country music’s most legendary figures – Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson – and their role in the outlaw movement that shook up the Nashville music scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

What I liked most about Outlaw was its broad scope, which gives a well-rounded view of the outlaw movement in Nashville. I also appreciated Streissguth’s use of archival photos to supplement the text.

This makes the book an enjoyable read for fans of country music history, as well as those who are just interested in learning more about these iconic musicians.

5. Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life

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I was so excited to read Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life by Randy Travis. I’m a big fan of his music, so I was really looking forward to hearing about his life story.

The book does not disappoint. It tells the story of Randy’s humble beginnings in North Carolina all the way to his meteoric rise to fame in country music. He candidly discusses the ups and downs of his life, including his struggles with addiction and his near-fatal stroke.

But through it all, Randy maintains his faith and optimism, and he emerges as a stronger and more mature man. This is a moving and inspirational memoir that any fan of Randy Travis will enjoy.

6. In the Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music

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I recently read In the Country of Country, a book by Nicholas Dawidoff that explores country music from its earliest recognized and recorded luminaries to the newest musicians on tour at the time of the book’s writing.

What I found most interesting about this book was the anecdotes Dawidoff recounted, which often surprised and enlightened me. For instance, I learned that Johnny Cash would eat a soda cracker before every performance in order to avoid starving, which is just one of the many fascinating connections between the early practitioners of country music that Dawidoff highlights in his book.

Overall, I found In the Country of Country to be an engaging and informative read that provided a unique perspective on country music.

7. The Great American Country Songbook (Easy Guitar with Notes & Tab)

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If you’re a fan of country music, The Great American Country Songbook is a must-have. This book features easy arrangements with tab for 50 all-American country classics, including some of the biggest hits ever written.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, you’ll find something to enjoy in this collection. From the soulful ballads of Patsy Cline to the foot-stomping boogie of Dwight Yoakam, there’s something for everyone here.

If you’re looking to expand your repertoire and learn some classic country tunes, The Great American Country Songbook is the perfect book for you.

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

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This book tells the intimate story of one of the most important country music musicians who ever lived. Merle’s music has influenced countless other artists, and his songs are still as popular today as they ever were. This book is a must-read for any fan of country music.

9. The Encyclopedia of Country Music

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Whether you play country music or are just a fan of the genre, you should own a copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Music.

This thoroughly revised new edition includes more than 1,200 A-Z entries covering nine decades of history and artistry, from the Carter Family recordings of the 1920s to the reign of Taylor Swift in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Compiled by a team of experts at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the encyclopedia has been brought completely up-to-date, with new entries on contemporary artists like Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert.

The Encyclopedia of Country Music is more than just a reference book. It’s also a celebration of country music’s rich history and its many talented artists.

10. Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver (John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas

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I picked up Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver with high expectations, and I was not disappointed. This book is a comprehensive look at the life and work of one of country music’s most prolific songwriters.

It’s filled with insights from notable singer-songwriters who have been influenced by Shaver, as well as Shaver himself.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the way it captured the complexity and simplicity of Shaver’s music. His songs are both peaceful and pure, complex and convoluted, mad and merciful – and they’re all written from the heart.

From a songwriter’s perspective, this book is a must-read. It’s also a great introduction to the work of Billy Joe Shaver for anyone who isn’t familiar with his music.

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle