14 of 25
By Patti Smith
320 pages; Ecco

Because this badass rocker is also a brilliant writer.

Smith's chronicle of her relationship with transgressive photographer Robert Mapplethorpe captures not only the youth of two boundary-breaking artists but also the soul of an era. It's about sex, drugs, subversive poetry, hot jazz and rock 'n' roll in the '70s—a time when danger and excitement crackled in the air. It's also about the timelessness of love and forgiveness. — Dawn Raffel