We musicians can be a brainy bunch. However, we musicians are also a well-rounded bunch, and rightly so. In order to be good colleagues and to tell honest stories, we must have an understanding of the world around us. Furthermore, in order to be able to manage ourselves financially and emotionally, we need more than just music can give us.
There are a lot of non-music books out there, and some of them we read just for fun. This list, however, is a list of non-music books all musicians should read at some point. With a combination of spiritual books, business ones, and those in between, these reads will help you on your journey to becoming a well-rounded musician.
If I had to pick one book on this list for you to read first, it would be this. Barbara Stanny, the author of Secrets of Six-Figure Women, tells it like it is.
So many musicians get stuck in the “love” of their craft that they don’t earn what they deserve. Add all of the naysayers out there who say we should be happy to work just for the “exposure”, it doesn’t make it easy to make a living with our skills. Once I read Stanny’s book though, I kicked myself into high gear and quickly started raising my income without compromising my morals or integrity. Stanny knows her stuff when it comes to managing money and managing yourself as a working professional.
I first read this book straight out of graduate school. I was trying to figure out the whole “working musician” thing, and was lost on where to look. Michelle Goodman’s honest and endearing account of her life as a freelance writer helped give me a whole new understanding of what it means to be a working musician. This book is especially helpful if you want information on on how to be a freelancer without a lot of business speak. Her intimate writing style also gives you the feeling of having a close conversation with a friend.
Despite its title, I believe that everyone (not just women) can get a lot out of what is essentially Sophia Amoruso’s manifesto. Part memoir, part business guide, the creator of Nasty Gal gets straight to the point in a humorous yet firm way.
Oftentimes as musicians, we get caught up in what we believe will be career-ending mistakes, but Amoruso is living proof that mistakes can lead to greater things. After all, the first thing she sold online was a stolen book, and now she is the founder of a multi-million dollar company. Extreme? Possibly. Motivational? You bet.
There is no doubt that being a working musician can be hard on the soul. No matter what you consider to be your personal faith, the Dalai Lama’s words in this spiritual guide will move you, soothe you, and give you perspective. Written as a quasi-interview with Howard C. Cutler, this book offers a Western lens on Eastern spiritual beliefs. More importantly though, it offers us all important insights on how to live more compassionately, both to others and to ourselves.
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Matt Kepnes, the creator of Nomadic Matt, gives valuable information to travelers of all types in this well-organized and jam-packed book. Filled with details on important travel topics like how to avoid banking fees overseas, finding great and affordable places to stay, and region-specific advice, any working musician would quickly find a return on their investment by purchasing this book.
The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy / Healthy / Successful People
In our fast-paced world, sometimes it can be preferable to get our information in smaller chunks. Organized into small, listed sections, David Niven’s books offer scientifically-proven insights into how to be happy, healthy, or successful (depending on which book you read). Furthermore, each insight is then supported with an anecdote or a personal story from interviewed participants. This bite-sized wisdom can relate to musicians in so many ways.
Speaking of bite-sized wisdom, former actress Lori Deschene offers just that on her popular site, Tiny Buddha. Using the site and her Twitter following, she created this book to help us all gain a bit of perspective, no matter our position or purpose in life. Since writing this book, she has also written a guide to loving yourself and transforming your inner critic, which also has the potential to be incredibly powerful for musicians.
It can be difficult to know where to find guides for non-music subjects as musicians. Hopefully, this list of non-music books all musicians should read will get you on the right track.
What non-music books have really helped you as a musician? What kinds of non-music books would you like recommendations on as a musician? What kind of book do you look for when you’re looking for your next read? If you give a popular recommendation, it may be added to this list!
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