There are three themes in literature that have been a source of endless fascination for readers beyond a certain age, and I bet you can guess what they are: Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Characteristically, the expression “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” conjures visions of youthful rebellion and hedonism, or fame and fortune, depending on how you look at it. Nonetheless, taken together or pulled apart, sex, drugs, and rock and roll provide manifold inspiration for writers—not to mention a delicious escape for readers! This list covers 10 books that have made good use of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll in one way or another. So buckle up and enjoy the read!
1. Kicking and Dreaming by Anne and Nancy Wilson
Please, if you have any doubts about how rock and roll Heart is, watch this video. Now you see. I fell in love with this band a couple of years ago, when I heard “Crazy on You” for the first time. That song, coincidentally, is about the intense sexual chemistry between Anne Wilson and her first boyfriend, the “Magic Man”… so you get both sex and rock ‘n roll in one very readable memoir. Of course, Heart had their heyday in the seventies and eighties, so there were lots of drugs to be had, too. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what it was like being a female rock star in a time when “cock rock” ruled the airwaves and the industry. Reading it only increased my respect and admiration for these true rock and roll women.
2. Who I Am by Pete Townshend
You can’t have a list of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll books without including the new Pete Townshend memoir, Who I Am. Click here for a taste of what made The Who so infamous—unabashed belligerence mixed with pure musical genius. In a time when rock and roll was drenched in decadence and depravity (not to mention drugs), Pete Townshend and his band mates took it to another level. His stories from that time are juicy enough to satisfy those looking for some good rock ‘n roll gossip, but Townshend is a complex character just as he is a multifaceted performer—not only a wild rock and roller, but an intelligent, articulate, and literary artist. This memoir will inspire and surprise you.
3. Destined to Play by Indigo Bloome
If you’re looking for something racy to read before bedtime, the first book in “The Avalon Trilogy”, Destined to Play, is a steamy erotic novel that will leave you wanting more. Readers are introduced to thirty-seven-year-old psychologist Alexandra Blake. She’s stuck in a passionless marriage, but when her ex-lover Dr. Jeremy Quinn comes mysteriously back into her life, her spark is reignited. Exploring themes of adultery, suspended reality, and no-strings-attached fantasy, first-time author Indigo Bloome seduces us with her sexy debut.
4. Jane Eyre Laid Bare by Eve Sinclair
Even in its original form, Jane Eyre is a pretty sexy read. It’s filled with a sexual tension that builds and builds, but never seems to reach its climax. Well, for those of us who wished that Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester had been a little racier, Eve Sinclair has updated this classic love story and added “an erotic twist”. The chemistry between Jane and Mr. Rochester has never been hotter. For me, the gorgeous cover alone was enough to pick up this book, but trust me; it’s a worthwhile read for fans of historical romance and erotica
5. Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
I just recently read this book and…wow. It is sexually explicit, it’s uncensored, it’s shocking, it’s liberating. It’s raw and real, and not for the faint of heart. First published in Germany and eventually selling over 1.7 million copies, Wetlands is a novel unlike any other. It follows the thoughts of Helen Memel, a precocious, contradictory, and sexually charged 18-year-old on the verge of a breakdown. It catapulted first-time author Charlotte Roche—an award-winning television personality in Germany—to notoriety and acclaim. As extreme as it was, I couldn’t put it down.
6. Streets of Fire by Eric Meola
Bruce Springsteen was always cool. Even when he was just a kid in New Jersey, learning how to play guitar and pose like a rock star, he was destined to be “the Boss”. In Eric Meola’s gorgeous book Streets of Fire: Bruce Springsteen in Photographs and Lyrics 1977-1979, he captured Springsteen at the beginning of his career, when everything was possible. Springsteen is a captivating subject; the photographs are striking. They reveal a raw vulnerability combined with a youthful bravado that is the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. Perfect coffee table material.
7. Vagina by Naomi Wolf
Naomi Wolf is a renowned cultural critic whose newest title, Vagina, strikes the perfect balance between memoir and cultural commentary; using history and science to break new ground. When Wolf is faced with a startling medical crisis, she decides to explore “the mind-vagina connection” and the link between female sexuality, creativity, and consciousness. It’s a fascinating, eye-opening, and empowering book for women who want to learn more about the role the vagina plays in a woman’s sense of self.
8. Hef’s Little Black Book by Hugh M. Hefner
Hugh Hefner is pretty rock ‘n roll. The iconic founder of Playboy magazine was a pioneer and rebel who single-handedly confirmed the expression “sex sells” and kick-started the sexual revolution. In the swingin’ sixties, Hefner was a true swinger who embraced a life of high-living and pleasure-seeking—all while building an empire. Hef’s Little Black Book is the first and only book written by Hefner himself. It includes many titillating personal photos that have never been seen before, and offers insights on romance, business, and yes, sex. A long awaited book from this international idol.
9. And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman
This is a gripping read from bestselling and award-winning mystery author Laura Lippman. And When She Was Good is the story of Heloise, a suburban mother and state lobbyist who also happens to lead a double-life as a prostitute and madam. For over a decade, she has maintained her secret and created a tightly controlled existence that kept her and her son safe. But now her ex-boyfriend—a pimp and a murderer, and the father of her son—is getting released from prison, and he suspects that she was the one who put him there. Lippman is in fine form with this dark, innovative, suspense-fueled novel.
10. The Dirt by Motley Crue
The grand finale of our top 10 list, The Dirt could be called the bible of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Without a doubt, the raunchiest, sleaziest, wildest rock book there is. It’s been over 10 years since the original was published, and the anniversary edition is the perfect gift for fans of eighties hair metal.
As my parting gift, I leave you with “Kickstart My Heart”, and I hope you’re rocking out while reading.
Follow me on twitter at @KelseyMarshall3