6 Bands Share YA Books That Shaped Them

Every band probably has that one act — that one rabblement of dudes and chicks with guitars and whatnot — that changed them. That made them want to do to what they do (or struggle to do between beige-y desk jobs and gigs slinging drinks and lattes). Nothing is born in a vacuum, after all.

But what about other art forms? What about words that are printed rather than caterwauled? What books have raged and rended their souls apart, making them want to put themselves back together in that image?

As a writer, music is something that drives me every day; when I sit down to write something fictional, I’m always kind of striving to write a book/story/chapter that’s equivalent to an album/song/refrain. I want to write something that gets at one’s guts in the visceral way that listening to music does. And when I finally manage to do so, I can expire smiling.

For a lot of musicians, literature functions in the same way — as something that awakens different shadowed parts of their brains. That impels them to make.

I asked a few of my favorite musicians/friends to tell me which books inspired them the most when they were kids. Check out their selections (and jams) below and let us know in the comments: What song/book kickstarted your soul of souls?

Miracles Of Modern Science, The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder


“I remember really enjoying The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. Loved my Tolkien too (generic, but true!) — total sucker for that stuff. As far as the effect they had on my experience… it’s hard for me to say really! I remember always having an affinity and love of nature — I don’t think that was inspired by Tolkien, but might be why his work resonated with me. (And why Werner Herzog speaks to me now, haha!) Not sure about The Solitaire Mystery… I think it stood out because it was rather surreal and the narrative structure wasn’t like anything I’d read to that point. Maybe that instilled an appreciation for that kind of creativity.” – Kieran Ledwidge

French Horn Rebellion, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee


“Atticus Finch always said you have to be the same on the inside of your home as you are on the outside. I feel like bands need to be the same way. It’s a representation of exactly who you are.” – Robert Perlick-Molinari

Prince Rama, Danger at Panther Peak by Bill Wallace


“He also wrote A Dog Called Kitty and Journey into Terror. I loved reading all of these books and totally falling in love with the young boy hero in each one. I would be lost in my book at school thinking about these boys’ brave adventures then look up from my book and see the reality of the boys around me picking their nose.” – Nimai Larson

Warm Ghost, Abel’s Island by William Steig


“To me, the most powerful reflections of humanity are often achieved through anthropomorphism. I feel like we can attach to animals in deeper, more emotionally unbiased ways, setting imagination free. Abel’s Island is a story about a stranded mouse. Thematically, it’s about survival and love. It’s my favorite book about hope, wonder, and imagination. These ideas will never not be important.” – Daniel Lewis

Total Slacker, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein


The Giving Tree kind of opened up my heart to deeper ideas when I was a kid. I found this book in the communal group I grew up in sometime around 8 or 9 when I started playing the guitar.” – Tucker Rountree

Not Blood Paint, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck


“So many great books cracked my brain open as I grew up, it’s a shame not to list them all. I definitely can’t mention just one! The most vivid in my pre-teen memory are The Pigman by Paul Zindel, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and Canyons by Gary Paulsen. All of those books made me feel much older and wiser than I was and I know I read every book by each of those authors immediately afterward. Lois Lowry’s The Giver was also a total scintillator. I was bummed to find out just recently that that book has sequels! How could I not have known?!

“But if there was any book that pushed my mind into a real, adult sense of humanity and how I would have to position myself therein… The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This book planted an immovable flag. The value of compassion and dignity amidst hardship and unimaginable loss. Perseverance and honor. Empathy and love for humankind. I had sort of assumed all of these concepts to be important before, but afterward felt as though I’d lived already a thousand dusty Woody Guthrie lives. I still think plain bread is a delicious luxury.” – Joe Stratton