Bay Area Punk Rock Books

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to thousands of creative, smart, quirky punk rockers. Because punks live a life outside of mainstream society, their stories are unique and original. Punk authors use the written word to create a do-it-yourself (DIY) spirit within their books. Topics can vary from music to gender identity to politics to travel. What remains constant is a certain set of values that punk rockers tend to hold dear.

It is no surprise that the Bay Area is home to a number of great punk authors. Punks are involved in all kinds of projects, well beyond playing in bands. They run radio programs, write zines, make art, fix bicycles, organize political movements, etc. It's no surprise that some of these people want to write down their experiences into books. These are some of the best punk rock books written by Bay Area punks.

Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division

Pansy Division were one of the very first openly queer punk rock bands. This book, written by Jon Ginoli (vocals/guitar) of the band combines stories of being a successful punk band while also being openly gay.

The book is a great perspective on what life was like for a gay punk rocker in the 90s -- one whose band was popular enough to tour with Green Day and play venues like Madison Square Garden.

Ginoli combines humor, anger and sexuality in this punk rock biography of one of the better known Bay Area musicians.

How To Ru(i)n A Record Label: The Story of Lookout Records

Lookout Records is the most important Easy Bay record label. They put out records by great Bay Area bands such as Green Day, Rancid, Screeching Weasel, Crimpshrine and others. The main person behind Lookout Records was Larry Livermore, the author of this book.

This book is great for those who love that classic melodic East Bay punk rock sound. Fans of early Green Day and their contemporary bands. Livermore was a key part of the punk rock scene of the time and gives the reader an insider view into that era.

A great book for those who enjoy and have an interest in that period of Bay Area punk rock history, or for those interested in what running an independent record label is like.

Absolutely Zippo!: A Fanzine's Anthology

Robert Eggplant, AKA Robert Burnett is a well known Bay Area punk rocker. He's most famous for putting out his fanzine Absolutely Zippo! and playing in the band Blatz. He started this zine in high school and kept it going for many years.

This book is a collection of the greatest articles and contributions from the Absolutely Zippo! fanzine. It includes contributions from zinester Aaron Cometbus and Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong among others.

This is not really a book, it's certainly not a novel or historical account. It is a collection of articles, drawing, comics, etc. published through the years. This book does not talk about the past or Robert's experiences. Instead it republished them and lets the read interpreter them as he or she wishes. Rather than reading about history, this book is the history first hand.

Despite Everything: Cometbus

Aaron Cometbus is probably the most well known Bay Area zine writer. His zine, Cometbus evolved over the years from a simple music review zine to an intensely personal set of stories.

Cometbus was one of the original 'personal zine' writers. Writing about personal emotions, experiences and feelings. These zines include stories about traveling, love, music and life in general (punk rock life anyway). I aways found his writing to be kind of romantic. It's rarely about the music, but more so about having adventures and challenging social norms.

The stories that Cometbus writes about are about a punk rock lifestyle. Much more so than books about music or politics.

King Dork

To punk rockers, author Frank Portman is best known as Dr. Frank, the lead vocalist and guitarist from the pop-punk band Mr. T Experience (MTX). They are one of the oldest consistently playing punk bands in the Bay Area.

When not writing and performing with MTX, Portman writes young adult fiction. Any good writer will tell you, 'write what you know', and Portman does just that. His young adult novel King Dork centers around a high school sophomore. The book's hero, Tom, forms a band, has girl trouble, deals with bullies and corrupt high school teachers.

The book is narrated by a teenage boy, and is done so convincingly. This might turn off some readers, especially those who have trouble relating to teenagers. The book will likely be enjoyed by those in high school or who remember high school. A film based on the book is currently in the works.

Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day

Written by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor, this is a book about Bay Area punk rock music. It's a historical volume that goes through the different eras and scenes of Bay Area punk rock.

These two journalists interviews a ton of Bay Area punk rockers to write this book. The book if full of direct quotes and stories of the interviewees. It includes many first hand accounts of some of the most well known and some lesser known aspects of Bay Area punk rock history. Unlike other books on the list, this book starts well before Green Day. It talks about the original San Francisco punk rock bands before moving on to more modern bands.

If you are interested in an oral history of the Bay Area punk scene, this is a great book.

924 Gilman: The Story So Far...

Compiled by Brian Edge, this is a collection of stories of 924 Gilman volunteers and patrons. 924 Gilman is a famous all-ages Bay Area punk rock club.

Edge came to Gilman asking many regulars involved in the club to write something for this book. They did, and that is what this book is. It is a collection of writings by a wide variety of individuals involved in Gilman street in one way or another.