20 Fabulous Books About Hair

Short stories, how-to guides, autobiographies and more that get to the root of our fascination with hair.

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'Beethoven's Hair' by Russell Martin

When the great composer died, his head was nearly shorn by admirers who wanted a lock of his hair as a keepsake. One family treasured their piece of Beethoven's hair so dearly that it survived for more than a century before finally being sold at Sotheby's to two Beethoven enthusiasts who tested the strands for clues about the musician's life. This fascinating saga follows one lock of hair through history. (Amazon.com)

'Bernice Bobs Her Hair and Other Stories' by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald based this short story, about a wealthy girl from Wisconsin who's tricked into bobbing her hair to get attention from boys, on letters he'd sent to his younger sister, Annabel. (amazon.com)

'Curly Girl' by Lorraine Massey and Deborah Chiel

Celebrate your corkscrews, ringlets and waves with this revolutionary guide for cutting and caring for curls. (amazon.com)

'Dreads' by Francesco Mastalia and Alfonso Pagano

"It has been over ten years since I last combed my hair," writes author Alice Walker in the introduction to this beautiful black and white coffee table tome devoted to ropey, knotty, natty dreadlocks. (amazon.com)

'Encyclopedia of Hair' by Victoria Sherrow

A compendium of hair through history, from the wigs of lawmakers to punk mohawks, from First Ladies to the search for a cure of baldness. (amazon.com)

'Fashions in Hair' by Richard Corson

The variety of hair styles through the ages is examined in this illustrated book, which ranges from ancient Egyptian to modern times. (amazon.com)

'Girl with Curious Hair' by David Foster Wallace

This collection of postmodern short stories from the inimitable David Foster Wallace dwells in a world of unsettling, bizarre realities. (amazon.com)

'Going Gray' by Anne Kreamer

After a seeing a photo of herself with her daughter, Kreamer, the former creative director for Nickelodeon, deemed herself a "forty-nine-year-old mother with a much too darkly shellacked helmet of hair." Determined to "embrace authenticity," she decided to breakup with her colorist and let her locks go gray. The resulting memoir is a funny, thoughtful look at our obsession with aging.

'Good to Great Hair' by Robert Vetica

Create your own celebrity-inspired hair with Vetica's three part guide to personal style: hair treatment and care, hair cutting and styling technique, finding a look for your face and personal style. (amazon.com)

'Hair!' by Gersh Kuntzman

"We live in a golden age of baldness, my friends," writes Kuntzman who explores the history of the human cure for thinning strands as well as the major advances in rugs, plugs and drugs. (amazon.com)

'It's Not Really About the Hair' by Tabatha Coffey

"I grew up in strip clubs, which ironically are among the most authentic and accepting places I have ever been," writes Bravo's bold star of Tabatha's Salon Takeover in this memoir meets business advice book. (amazon.com)

'Queens' by Michael Cunningham and George Alexander

From afros to braids, relaxed hair to fantasy styles, this vivid collection of photos and personal narratives pays homage to black women and their beautiful manes. (amazon.com)

'Rapunzel's Daughters' by Rose Weitz

In this social history of women's hair, Weitz examines what our tresses reveal about our identities, intimate relationships, work and more. (amazon.com)

'The Roots of Desire' by Marion Roach

A witty investigation into the power, myth and meaning of red hair—why it's fetishized, feared, condemned and worshipped in our culture. (amazon.com)

'Vidal' by Vidal Sassoon

The father of modern hairdressing discusses his extraordinary career—and famous cuts for the likes of Twiggy, Rita Hayworth and Mia Farrow—in this revealing autobiography. (amazon.com)

'Kabul Beauty School' by Deborah Rodriguez

When Rodriguez traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban, she worried her skills wouldn't be as useful as those of the doctors and nurses in her humanitarian aid group. But as she began to befriend the Afghani people, she realized her career as a hairdresser was of great use to the Afghan women, who have a proud tradition of running salons. In this inspiring memoir, Rodriguez chronicles how, with the help of corporate and international sponsors, she opened a Kabul Beauty School.

'Upper Cut' by Carrie White

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, White was one of the hottest hairdressers in Hollywood with celebrity clients like Sharon Tate, Elizabeth Taylor and Goldie Hawn. But she was also an unstable addict who lost her home and most of her five children because of her dependency on champagne, cocaine and heroin. In this shocking memoir, she reveals how she battled back from addiciton and rebuilt her career.

'That Extra Half an Inch: Hair Heels and Everything in Between' by Victoria Beckham

The sometimes Spice Girl turned designer is poised to be your personal style guru with this book of tips and tricks for where to shop, how to make the most of your wardrobe and more.

'Hair Heroes' by Michael Gordon

The founder of Bumble and Bumble interviews masters of modern hairdressing in this book, which includes conversations with Jacqueline Kennedy's trusted stylist, the man who put the curl in Dali's mustache and Sam Lapin, the father of modern haircolor. (amazon.com)

'Hair' by Eric Grode

The history of the groundbreaking musical, including the real-life events that inspired its creators. (amazon.com)


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For a slideshow of 20 chic nonfiction reads, click here.

First Published December 20, 2011

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