Whether you’re looking for yourself or for someone else, this is our definitive list of the 20 best books about dance & electronic music—perfect for gifts and stocking fillers!
All the books have been hand-picked by our team here at The DJ Revolution.
If you don’t want to scan through, simply click on the table of contents to jump straight to that book…
20 Best Electronic Music Books – Table of Contents
- 1. Rave Art: Flyers, invitations and membership cards
- 2. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey
- 3. The Haçienda: How Not To Run A Club
- 4. Techno Shuffle: Rave Culture and The Melbourne Underground
- 5. Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk
- 6. Class of ’88: Find the warehouse. Lose the hitmen. Pump the beats
- 7. House Music… The Real Story
- 8. Full On. Non-Stop. All Over
- 9. Carl Cox, Oh Yes Oh Yes!
- 10. Hypnotised: A Journey Through Trance Music (1990-2005)
- 11. The Disco Files 1973–78: New York’s Underground, Week by Week
- 12. Porcelain: A Memoir (Moby)
- 13. Electrochoc (Laurent Garnier)
- 14. The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America
- 15. Brickwork: A Biography of The Arches
- 16. Rave On: Global Adventures in Electronic Dance Music
- 17. State of Bass: The Origins of Jungle/Drum & Bass
- 18. Adventures In Wonderland: Acid house, rave and the UK club explosion
- 19. Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture
- 20. Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor: Music, Manchester, and More: A Memoir
1. Rave Art: Flyers, invitations and membership cards
Categories: Rave Culture Books | UK Rave Scene | Summer of Love | Acid House | Photography Books
Year: 2018 (Hardcover released in 2021)
Author: Chelsea Louise Berlin
If the idea of acid house and summer-of-love-era memorabilia sounds interesting, then look no further than the book Rave Art!
The book consists of rave flyers, VIP/ membership cards and other artefacts from iconic parties such as Sunrise, Genesis, Club Shoom and Energy – with four different chapters taking you through 1986/7, 1988, 1989 and 1990. As an alternative to actually reading something, and certainly for an old-school raver, this would make the perfect gift.
2. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey
Categories: DJ Culture | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books | Rave Culture Books | Disco Books
Year: 2014 (updated version)
Authors: Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton
Last Night A DJ Saved My Life is essentially an in-depth episodic breakdown of the history of the disc jockey and rave culture, with a deep dive into a long and diverse list of electronic music genres.
Whilst it’s a big book to tackle (about 600 pages), it’s well-written, and undoubtedly a collectable classic. The way it’s broken down, you could quite easily come back to it in different stages if you wanted to. It’s one of many successful releases from popular industry writers Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.
3. The Haçienda: How Not To Run A Club
Categories: Hacienda | UK Rave Scene | UK Clubs | Acid House | Rave Culture Books
Author: Peter Hook
Loaded with crazy stories and with no shortage of profanity, the book offers a real-world account of the disastrous practices that ultimately brought down The Hacienda.
It’s a nice easy read this one, with a conversational tone. The audiobook version is good as well, as you get Peter Hook’s Salford accent for free!
4. Techno Shuffle: Rave Culture and The Melbourne Underground
Categories: Australian Rave Scene | Rave Culture Books | Melbourne Shuffle | Politics
Author: Paul Fleckney
You won’t find too many books that document Aussie rave culture – so this one is a bit of a unicorn! As it says on the tin, the book is focused on Australia’s main cultural hub when it comes to music – Melbourne.
Related: Check out this feature article we did on Australia’s Forgotten Rave Culture.
5. Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk
Categories: Techno Books | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books | History of Techno
Year: 2010 (originally published in 1999)
Author: Dan Sicko
The early forms of techno music emerged in the clubs of Detroit in the early 1980s, which is what the book focuses on. As well as the origins of techno, Techno Rebels also discusses its key influencers. For those with a passion for techno, the book is undoubtedly one the best to comprehensively break down the origins/history of the genre.
6. Class of ’88: Find the warehouse. Lose the hitmen. Pump the beats
Categories: Rave Culture Books | UK Rave Scene | Summer of Love | Acid House
Author: Wayne Anthony
Wayne Anthony was one of the UK’s most prolific illegal rave organisers, heading up the legendary Genesis parties. If you were around for the acid house explosion of the late 80s & early 90s, this one can’t be overlooked. It gives an excellent real-world account of how things played out.
7. House Music… The Real Story
Categories: House Music Books | Memoirs | Music autobiographies | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books
Author: Jesse Saunders
Influenced by legends such as the late Frankie Knuckles, Jesse is said by some to have created the first house record ever on vinyl. As well as discussing how he pioneered the genre, the book also gets into the celebrity culture of the 1980s and ‘90s. If you want to know about the history/origins of house music, there are certainly worst places to start!
8. Full On. Non-Stop. All Over
Categories: Rave Culture Books | UK Rave Scene | Photography Books
Author: Matthew Smith
This photography book is perfect for anyone who was clubbing in the UK between 1999 and 2006 (born roughly between 1981 & 1987).
What makes the imagery (and this era) even more special is that it was right before the digital revolution took hold – so no camera phones, social media, selfies or other bullshit. As the only book of its kind that we know of, it had to get on a spot on the list!
Also check out this short news piece we did about the book when it came.
9. Carl Cox, Oh Yes Oh Yes!
Categories: Memoirs | DJ Culture | Books About DJs
Author: Carl Cox
Without a doubt one of the best DJs that’s ever lived – the legend that is Carl Cox! Coxy takes the reader on a journey through his 30+ year career (and adult life), starting from his working-class upbringing on a council estate in South London.
While he does take a lot of credit for the evolution of the underground scene in the book, if you’re a Carl Cox fan, it’s certainly worth a read — and good inspiration for aspiring DJs!
Check out this news piece we did when it came out for more.
10. Hypnotised: A Journey Through Trance Music (1990-2005)
Categories: Trance Music Books | Photography Books
Author: Arjan Rietveld
Surprisingly, there aren’t that many trance music books out there, so this one seems like a no-brainer addition to the list to cater for trance music fans.
For an additional charge, this trance encyclopaedia book can be accompanied by a 3LP compilation of Dutch trance music – which would make a fantastic gift.
Related from our blog:
- 20 of the Best Classic Trance Anthems From the Mid-To-Late 90s.
- 20 of the Best Classic Trance Anthems From The 2000s.
11. The Disco Files 1973–78: New York’s Underground, Week by Week
Categories: Disco Books | History of Disco | Photography Books | Electronic Music Books | Electronic Music History | Memoirs
Author: Fran Lebowitz and Vince Aletti
This book is the definitive and essential chronicle of disco, true from-the-trenches reporting that details, week by week, the evolution of the clubs, the DJs, and the music.
It also documents all the ‘essential’ disco singles, records (EPs) and albums by year, which is a really nice addition to what’s undoubtedly one of the best books documenting the disco era.
12. Porcelain: A Memoir
Categories: Memoirs | DJ Culture | Artist/music autobiographies | Books About DJs
In the book, Moby talks candidly about his struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, his Christian faith, self-image and more. The memoir follows his story from living in an abandoned factory in Connecticut to playing the hottest clubs in New York and Europe. As well as Moby fans, the book might also appeal to aspiring music producers.
Categories: Memoirs | Acid House | Hacienda | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books | UK Rave Scene | DJ Culture | Books About DJs
Author: Laurent Garnier
From the legendary French DJ/producer, Laurent Garnier…
After moving to Manchester in 1986 (good timing for the acid house explosion), Laurent started DJing at iconic venues such as the Hacienda — and the rest is history, as they say.
His book is as much of an insight into the scene during the acid house era as it is a ‘memoir’, so you don’t necessarily have to be a massive Garnier fan to enjoy it.
14. The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America
Categories: EDM Books| U.S. Rave Scene | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books
Author: Michaelangelo Matos
Surely one of the best and most thorough books for documenting the evolution of dance music in America, from its birth, right through to modern ‘EDM’. The book utilizes hundreds of interviews together with a library of rave-related artefacts.
15. Brickwork: A Biography of The Arches
Categories: UK clubs | Scotland | UK Rave Scene
Authors: Kirstin Innes and David Bratchpiece
This one might be appreciated more if you’ve been to The Arches or if you’re interested in UK club history… and perhaps more specifically Scotland’s. It’s written by a former employee of the iconic Glaswegian club, David Bratchpiece.
16. Rave On: Global Adventures in Electronic Dance Music
Categories: Politics | EDM Books | Electronic Music Books | Electronic Music History | Rave Culture Books
Author: Matthew Collin
In a nutshell, Rave On captures the cultural differences between various dance scenes’ around the world – in places such as South Africa, Georgia and beyond. It gets to the heart of what dance music culture is really about: people of all backgrounds coming together and having a good time.
If you’re interested in the history/evolution of electronic dance music from a more global perspective this should definitely be part of your reading list.
17. State of Bass: The Origins of Jungle/Drum & Bass
Categories: Drum & Bass Books | Bass Music Books | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books | UK Rave Scene
Year: 2020 (originally from 1997)
Author: Martin James
If you’re looking for a book on the history of Jungle/Drum & Bass and the evolution of the genre, then look no further!
18. Adventures In Wonderland: Acid house, rave and the UK club explosion
Categories: Acid House | Rave Culture Books | Electronic Music History | Electronic Music Books | UK Rave Scene
Author: Sheryl Garratt
Definitely one of the better, more comprehensive books on rave culture and the acid house era. It also discusses dance music’s emergence from the U.S. and its influence coming from Ibiza.
19. Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture
Categories: Disco Books | Electronic Music History | History of Disco | Photography Books | Politics
Author: Alice Echols
Compared to other disco books out there, this one talks more about its origins and cultural influences. We’ve picked it for good reason!
20. Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor: Music, Manchester, and More: A Memoir
Categories: Memoirs | Hacienda | Books About DJs
Author: Dave Haslam
Also an author & journalist, Dave is of course best known for his time as a DJ at the Hacienda, where he ran his own club night called Temperance in the late 80s and made over 450 appearances. The book is essentially an intimate account of Dave’s life growing up through the 80s & 90s in Manchester.
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