Now is the perfect time to catch up on the best books, films, television shows, music and podcasts you might have missed. Here are five music books that’ll help fill in the gaps in your cultural knowledge.

The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross
A 700-page journey through 20th century classical music, from Strauss and Mahler to Steve Reich. You’ll finally understand what the “fine music” aisle’s about.

As Serious as Your Life, Val Wilmer
A celebration of ’60s titans like Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra to fill that jazz hole in your soul.

Rapper Lil Wayne.

Rapper Lil Wayne. Credit:AP/John Bazemore

Country, Nick Tosches
You won’t find chapters on Willie or Dolly, but you will find a blush-inducing history of the genre’s sordid roots.

Energy Flash, Simon Reynolds
Named for Joey Beltram’s 1990 techno classic, this tome sums up the songs (and drugs) that defined rave culture.

The Rap Year Book, Shea Serrano
Don’t know why Lil Wayne’s 2006 is considered historically unapproachable, or why Nicki Minaj’s verse on Monster is revered? Read this one.



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