By Grady Smith
Updated December 27, 2011 at 02:00 PM EST

All week long, Shelf Life is listing EW’s favorite books of 2011 — sorted into separate categories by genre. Click through the gallery to see our picks for the best music books of the year, starting Steven Tyler’s memoir.

Does The Noise in My Head Bother You?, Steven Tyler: From the EW review: “This book concludes with Tyler securing the Idol gig last year, but the singer recalls how, less than 12 months before, he accidentally ruptured a package of his cocaine in the New York apartment of his (absent) daughter Liv. Drug addicts of a waste-not-want-not disposition — which is to say, all drug addicts — will be glad to know that Tyler ‘snorted it all up, off the counters and everywhere, and got a nice f—ing rail out of it.'”

Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan: From EW’s Melissa Maerz: “Southern-born rising star John Jeremiah Sullivan is not a traditional Very Important Essayist, and thank goodness for that. At 37, he’s younger than Christopher Hitchens or Malcolm Gladwell, and his voice is more more fantastical, whether he’s philosophizing about Michael Jackson’s body or riffing on the ease of renting an RV for a Christian-rock festival. To read him is to feel very lucky just to follow him down his rabbit hole of choice.”

Rock & Roll Always Forgets, Chuck Eddy: From the EW review: “Eddy can make his ambivalence – hell, his basic confusion – about the importance of Jay-Z into as good a description of Jay-Z’s music as has been set down by any hardcore fan. I find his gradual move from heavy metal/noise enthusiast to pop/country aficionado, as it plays out over the course of this volume, both logical and exciting.”

Craig Sjodin

Out of the Vinyl Deeps, Ellen Willis: From the EW review: “Willis writes with a directness and utter lack of fan gush, and her observations sound as fresh, as appropriate to the present music scene, as they did decades ago. Her 1971 criticism of pop music’s tendency toward ”a tedious worship of technical proficiency” is as apt now about American Idol and The Voice as it was then. … Willis died in 2006 at age 64. This book resurrects a nearly lost, invaluable voice.”

Craig Sjodin

The Doors, Greil Marcus

Everything is an Afterthought, Kevin Avery: From EW’s Ken Tucker: “The biography tells a story that might easily be transformed into the plot of one of the semi-obscure hard-boiled writers Nelson admired so much, a tale out of David Goodis, say, or Horace McCoy. It’s the story of a man who loved a certain kind of music, literature, and movie with a passion that eventually overtook his life. Nelson was a romantic, and prized tales of loners, misfits, and rebels.”

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, Will Hermes: From the EW review: “Longtime Rolling Stone and NPR contributor Hermes unpacks a stream of revelatory moments in the coolest five years of NYC’s musical history (1973 through 1977, which covers both the birth of punk and the roots of hip-hop) and also provides tertiary rock & roll details like the complete contents of a Greenwich Village head shop.”

Lennon, Tim Riley

Electric Eden, Rob Young

See A Little Light, Bob Mould: From EW: “Bob Mould fronted the seminal indie-rock bands Hüsker Dü and Sugar, worked as a creative consultant for World Championship Wrestling, and wrote the Daily Show theme. Now, with help from music scribe Michael Azerrad, the openly gay singer-songwriter, 50, has chronicled his extraordinary life in See a Little Light.” Read an interview with Mould here.

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