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06 Britney Spears autobiography, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Tricky, Rock La France, Music book selection

From Britney Spears to Patti Smith, 5 music books to have this winter


Among Patti Smith’s photo book, moving interviews with Nick Cave, and Britney Spears’ scandalous autobiography, Numéro has selected 5 exciting books to browse through (or display on your coffee table) this winter.

1. Britney Spears’ scandalous autobiography


The 41-year-old who hasn’t made her musical comeback yet, aside from a duet with Elton John, narrates her tumultuous story and looks back on key moments of her career in her landmark book The Woman in Me. Mental health issues, abortion, complicated love affairs, dramas, tabloids, slut-shaming, scandals, such as the “shaved head” sequence... The singer’s life is full of episodes worthy of being published. The star sheds light on her father’s guardianship – an abusive, much-discussed guardianship from which the star finally freed herself in 2021. On her Instagram account, the singer declared: “I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day!!!! Best day ever of my life... praise the Lord.” A press release billed the book as an “incredibly moving story of freedom, glory, motherhood, survival, faith and hope”, written with “candor and humor”. It highlights the “power of music and love, and the importance for women to tell their story in their own words.” Among many other things, we learn how her father, an alcoholic and violent man, belittled her as a child, and how Justin Timberlake broke up with her over a crude text message.


The Woman in Me by Britney Spears, published by JC Lattès.

2. Two beautiful books by Patti Smith, including one celebrating Rimbaud


American rock icon and poet Patti Smith never ceases to inspire us. In October 2022, she and the New York-based musical duo Soundwalk Collective created an immersive installation entitled “Evidence” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Until January 23rd, 2023, visitors embarked on a sonic and metaphysical journey following in the footsteps of three French poets, namely Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud, and René Daumal. This month, the priestess of punk has published a beautiful new edition of Arthur Rimbaud’s work A Season in Hell, enriched with her writings and drawings, as well as A Book of Days, which traces back a whole year in the life of Patti Smith through photographs. 


A season in Hell 1873 and other poems - Photographs, writings, and drawings by Patti Smith (2023) by Arthur Rimbaud, published by Éditions Gallimard. A Book of Days (2023) by Patti Smith, published by Random House / Éditions Gallimard.


The cover of the book Faith, Hope and Carnage (2023) by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan, published by Canongate Books (UK) / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US) / Table Ronde (FR).

3. A harrowing collection of interviews with Nick Cave


Although the Australian singer, songwriter, and actor Nick Cave is known for his heart-breaking, soulful songs, he also writes novels and screenplays. Today, his poetic verve flourishes in a collection of transcriptions of more than forty hours of interview between rocker Nick Cave and journalist Sean O’Hagan. Entitled Faith, Hope and Carnageone of the most beautiful book titles of 2023 – the work gathers intimate and profound reflections on faith, music, love, and on the artist’s grief after losing his two sons... With great humanity and sincerity, these thoughts tinged with spirituality almost dive us into a state of mystical contemplation.


Faith, Hope and Carnage (2023) by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan, published by Canongate Books (UK) / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US) / Table Ronde (FR).

4. The French Bible of rock’n’roll 


How do you sum up 60 years of French rock? The task may seem daunting, but journalists Patrice Bardot, Alexis Bernier, and Didier Varrod, alongside a host of various writers, have risen to the challenge with flying colors. Although inevitably subjective, the 300-page book offers the reader a richly illustrated and comprehensive dive into the electric atmosphere of the “music of the devil” played in the bars and concert venues, from flagship groups, such as Téléphone, Bérurier Noir, or Mano Negra, to underground bands, such as Poni Hoax, Bijou, or Jessica 93. The perfect Christmas gift for guitars and black leather jackets lovers.


Rock France – 60 years of guitar and electricity (2023) by Patrice Bardot, Alexis Bernier, and Didier Varrod, published by Marabout.

5. A passionate biography about Tricky


British musician Tricky is one of the most creative figures in the music industry of the 1990s and 2000s. Whether he worked by himself, as part of the band Massive Attack, through his collaborations with Björk, PJ Harvey, and Neneh Cherry, the artist was a pioneer of the infamous trip-hop movement. As a great fan of Tricky and of the Bristol scene to which the musician belongs, journalist Florine Delcourt traces back his career through a collection of interviews in the context of the British society at that time.


Tricky, antistar superstar (2023) by Florine Delcourt, published by Playlist Society.


Translation by Emma Naroumbo Armaing.

La couverture du livre Oum Kalthoum : naissance d’une diva (2023) aux éditons JC Lattès.

6. Un beau roman graphique consacré à la diva égyptienne Oum Kalthoum

Surnommée "l'astre d'Orient", la chanteuse et actrice égyptienne Oum Kalthoum (1898-1975) est l’une des plus belles voix du monde arabe. Elle était à la fois aimée par Charles de Gaulle et Maria Callas. Destiné à ceux qui l’adulent, mais aussi, à ceux qui ne le connaissent pas encore, un beau roman graphique sorti cette année raconte sa vie. Intitulé Oum Kalthoum : naissance d’une diva, le livre a été imaginé par l’illustratrice Chadia Loueslati et la journaliste Nadia Hathroubi-Safsaf.

Oum Kalthoum : naissance d’une diva (2023) de Chadia Loueslati et Nadia Hathroubi-Safsaf aux éditions JC Lattès.

La couverture du livre Orelsan - Dictionnaire critique (2023) aux éditions La Grenade/JC Lattès.

7. Un dictionnaire dédié au rappeur Orelsan

Le rappeur, chanteur, compositeur, acteur et réalisateur français Orelsan a fait couler beaucoup d’encre.  Mais l’auteur Nicolas Krastev-McKinnon - qui a déjà consacré un livre sur Damso - essaie de proposer une nouvelle lecture de son œuvre à travers un dictionnaire critique. Il entend ainsi rendre hommage aux qualités littéraires des textes du rappeur ainsi qu’à son riche univers. "Orelsan a inventé une foule de personnages, écrit-il, reflets en tous genres de notre drôle d'époque, pour en dessiner une fresque caustique et amusante."

Orelsan - Dictionnaire critique (2023) de Nicolas Krastev-McKinnon aux éditions La Grenade/JC Lattès.