Here's a book I've just read and really enjoyed. Azerrad tells the stories of thirteen bands, mainly from the punk and hardcore scenes of the early eighties but branching into grunge towards the end.
What comes through most is such a strong spirit of community and of shared experience in all the bands he mentions: the way that even though their music might not have a lot in common the way that the members of the various scenes supported each other. The common difficulties of being in that kind of band at the time I suppose. That, and the DIY principles that everything is built on (it's basically a 400-page lovesong to Ian MacKaye/Dischord sometimes) are pretty cliche by this point but it's a powerful message and one which I think is still valid and important. It's the kind of book that makes you want to do stuff.
Also, Azerrad is pretty good at writing about music. I don't like all the stuff he talks about, but most of it's really good. He's never going to convince me to like grunge, but he's evangelical enough about early noise-rock (Mission of Burma etc.) that I've been prompted to listen to more of it and I'm really enjoying it. Their music still stands up on its own merits, but I have trouble getting really excited about Minor Threat, for example, although I do love Fugazi. Maybe they're just one of those bands you had to be there for.
Anyway the bands he talks about are:
Mission of Burma
Anyway give it a read, it's good.