Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Wish You Were Here by Leslie Simon

Title: Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes – From Punk to Indie and Everything In Between
Author: Leslie Simon
Publisher: It Books
Date: April 2009
ISBN-10: 006157371X

Summary: After reading this book, you’ll feel as though you took a whirlwind musical tour through eleven spots spread throughout the US.  From Seattle to New York, and even Lawrence, Kansas, author Leslie Simon goes into depth for each music scene and informs us why we should be interested.  For each location, Simon starts with the history of the local music scene, focusing on the bands that contributed to the punk-rock or emo genres.  This is followed by a suggested album list of bands from that location, giving detailed explanations for why each album is essential.  A travel guide portion lists some hot local spots to check out, mostly (but not exclusively) related to the music scene.  And for each location, there is a “Moment of Silence” to pay tribute to a local venue that has fallen on hard times – or even been converted into a Starbucks, like the D.C. Space in Washington D.C.  You’ll feel informed about the history of the underground music scene, plus you’ll know the cool hangouts in each city.  A must-read for any music lover.

Critical Evaluation:  Far from being a dry history and travel guide, Simon’s treatment of the subject is infused with interesting pop-culture tidbits and humorous side articles (“Which Seattle Scenester Are You?” asks you to pick between five types of scenesters, from the Intellectual Indie Scenester to the Prematurely Balding Hard-Core Scenester).  Her knowledge of the underground music scene is vast, and I learned a ton that I didn’t know about the local music from the Bay Area (I thought it was fun to check out the suggested local spots she recommended visiting – she even mentioned one of my favorite pizza places in Berkeley!).  The book is illustrated by Rob Dobi, and his “could have been printed in a graphic novel” style drawings really brought the music scene to life on the pages.  My only complaint is that it was too short – after reading her evaluations of eleven locations throughout the country, I wanted to keep reading her take on the American music scene!

Reader’s Annotation: With this guide to the underground music scene, you’ll learn the history and top bands to listen to from eleven locations throughout the US, from Washington D.C. to Seattle, Washington, and even Lawrence, Kansas.

Author Information: Leslie Simon is author of Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide To Your Favorite Music Scenes—From Punk To Indie And Everything In Between. She is also the co-author of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. Her work has appeared in Kerrang! and Alternative Press, in addition to the online pages of Metromix and MTV Buzzworthy.

She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she is determined to stalk Zach Galifianakis until he marries her—or he gets a restraining order. Whichever happens first. (Source)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Music

Curriculum Ties: Music

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Is your local music scene described in this book?  If so, did you learn anything new about it?  If not, what do you know about the history of the music scene in your area?
2) Why do certain areas seem to inspire thriving musical scenes?  Does location really matter?
3) If you could pick one location out of the book to visit, which would it be and why?

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I was looking for more non-fiction titles to include in my collection and I chose this one because I think young adults are very interested in music and would want to learn more about the history of movements like punk and emo.


Leslie Simon’s blog


May 10, 2010 - Posted by | Books | ,

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