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Jim Ruland's Top 5 Favorite Punk Books

Jim Ruland—Top 5 Punk Books
18 November 2021

(Photo by Clair McAllister)

Playing Favorites is an interview series where creative people pick a topic and tell us their five favorite things about it. Opinions expressed in this series are those of the interviewees and do not reflect the opinions of S.W. Lauden or The Big Takeover.

Jim Ruland’s name is quickly becoming synonymous with excellent punk rock non-fiction. Starting with My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor (De Capo Press), his 2015 collaboration with Black Flag/Circle Jerks legend Keith Morris, he his been on an impressive music biography streak. Ruland’s follow up, Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion (Hachette Books), was universally praised. His next book, Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise and Fall of SST Records (Hachette Books) is available for pre-order now.

Jim Ruland—Top 5 Punk Books


5. NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories
by NOFX and Jeff Alulis (Da Capo Press 2016)
One of the gnarliest punk books ever written. Cowriter Jeff Alulis (a.k.a. Jeff Penalty who briefly sang with Dead Kennedys) worked with the band on its documentary series Backstage Passport so he had incredible access. It’s got a unique structure and is surprisingly suspenseful.

4. Blight at the End of the Funnel
by Edward Colver (Last Gasp 2015)
You can’t tell the story of LA punk in the ’80s without Edward Colver. Flipping through the pages is like watching the history of LA punk unfold. Colver is an underappreciated chronicler of the scene and an absolute genius with a camera.

3. Punk Elegies: True Tales of Death Trip Kids, Wrongful Sex, and Trial by Angel Dust
by Allan MacDonnell (Rare Bird Books 2015)
MacDonnell’s memoir of his time in the scene (he wrote for Slash magazine) is the perfect mix of shocking stories and beautiful writing—all done without a whiff of romanticism.

2. We Got Power! Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California
by Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz (Bazillion Points 2012)
Although the zine didn’t have a long run, they interviewed all the heavy hitters. In addition to reprinting all six issues, the volume collects essays from folks like Tony Adolescent, Jula Bell, Eugene Tatu (remember him?), and Daniel “Shredder” Weizmann. It’s loaded with photos and its outstanding design makes We Got Power! a joy to read.

1. Taking Punk to the Masses: From Nowhere to Nevermind
by Jacob McMurray (Fantagraphics 2011)
The book is essentially a catalog for the Experience Music Project at Seattle’s Space Needle. Beautiful photography, arresting layout, and concise oral histories. The book comes with a DVD that’s loaded with in-depth interviews. The focus is on the Pacific Northwest, a region that has been oversaturated in terms of coverage in recent years, but I still learned a ton.

Previously on Playing Favorites:
Frank Turner’s Top 5 Favorite Venues
Jenn Alva’s Top 5 Favorite Punk Singers
Joey Cape’s Top 5 Favorite Tour Restaurants