Friday, July 29, 2011

Books and music

I find it really interesting how drawn I am to music in literature. I'm not a big enthusiast of music and while I did have a small interest in learning the piano once when I was younger, it never really happened. I'm very impressed with other people though, who do possess musical ability and can play and make music. And of course, I find it fascinating when music either supports a storyline or in fact drives the plot of books that I read.

I thought today that I might look at some of my favourites that I've read over the past few years. Please do share your own favourites in comments, of course. Links go to my original reviews.

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway - While in some ways I think this book is a little far-fetched in the way that Audrey becomes famous, I was wholly willing to suspend my disbelief during the course of this book as it is just hugely, hugely fun. Everything about it made me smile. It was fairly popular on some American blogs awhile back, but I never really saw many reviews here in the UK. You should have seen me squeal with excitement when I saw this book in the library and of course, I do highly recommend it!

It's the story of a teenage girl whose break-up with her musician ex-boyfriend ends up becoming the inspiration for a bestselling hit. The paparazzi start to follow Audrey around and it begins to interfere with her life and her new relationship with another boy. I really loved it and I can't wait to get my hands on Robin Benway's new book.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - I'd heard OF the book, but I watched the film version before I read the book of Nick and Norah. While I thought the film version to be quite cute, I much preferred the book.

I loved how it all happens on one adventurous night jumping around in different clubs and things in New York City as a bunch of people (Nick and Norah) included are on this hunt for a mysterious gig by a favourite band. The music mentioned in the book all feels like really trendy music from bands I've never heard of (or entirely made-up bands? I don't recall, not being into the trendy music scene you see!), but it doesn't really matter. I think the music is really just cool backdrop as these two realise stuff about themselves and each other. I think it's a real sweet story and quite romantic as well.

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg - How I came to hear about The Lonely Hearts Club, I'll never quite be sure. But once I had heard that the book really heavily features the music of the Beatles and in particular a teenage girl who takes the lyrics a bit seriously and forms her OWN Lonely Hearts Club in which she swears off teenage boys? I kind of knew I had to read it. And I did and it was just as entertaining and cute as I thought it would be.

I finished reading this book and I had the instant craving to lay about listening to Beatles music on a constant loop. Which I erm, may or may not have actually did. *cough*

If I Stay by Gayle Forman - I absolutely adore Gayle Forman's writing. If I Stay and also Where She Went were both such emotional and heart-breaking books for me. When I read If I Stay, I remember really being drawn to the way in which Adam and Mia are connected by two very different types of music. And while I find Adam being in a band to be pretty cool, it was really Mia's interest in classical music to be what I found most interesting.

I remember listening to the cello music iin the book trailer for If I Stay and it almost felt as though I was hearing the cello for the first time. And just as I found the written words of the story to be moving and emotional, I really found the music to be as well.

Rockoholic by CJ Skuse - Rockoholic is probably the most recent book to be included on my list, and thinking about it, is probably the book that inspired me to create and write this post about books with a musical theme. It's such a wonderful book and one that I keep returning to in my thoughts. I absolutely adore the characters and the bizarre situation in which they find themselves in. Jody, grieving for her grandfather, is obsessed with a rockband and at one of their concerts, accidentally kidnaps a rock star. HA! How is that even possible?! What follows is in turns hugely funny and also uncomfortable as Jody and her best friend try to work out what exactly to DO with the drugged-out, demanding rock star they've stashed in the garage . One of my favourite books that I've read all year. I seriously love it.

A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma - I really love this book. After reading the absolutely incredible Forbidden last year, I was desperate to read more from Tabitha Suzuma. A Note of Madness is the first book I came across. It's the story of a classical pianist at a really prestigious academy of music in London. He's studying hard and practicing in this really competitive environment and is also struggling with manic depression.

On his highs, Flynn stays up all night composing music and entire operas and his passion for music is so incredible that I began, just by reading the words on the page, like I was being sucked into Flynn's energy while he becomes so focused and enthusiastic for music. And then the low points emerge and Flynn can't get out of bed and he's contemplating the worst. It can be difficult reading, A Note of Madness, but I'm really glad that I did read it.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney - The Mockingbirds isn't a book I'd normally think of and associate it with music. I'd probably think of 'date rape' first, or something in terms of standing up against injustice but one particular scene from the book really stands out for me. The Mockingbirds, if you aren't already aware, is a book in which a girl at a boarding school has been drugged and date raped by a fellow student. It's a very powerful book, and despite a big issue I had with it, I thought it was a very brave and honest look at something that I haven't seen spoken about much in YA. The main character is obviously going through a great deal of emotions and at one point she plays the piano and she just lets everything she's feeling out through the piano. And that one expression of emotion has stayed with me for absolutely ages.

I'm sure that as soon as this post is published, I'll have remembered several more books I really should have mentioned, but oh well! I leave that up to you in comments :)

What is your favourite book or books that use music as a central part of the story?


  1. Fabulous post!

    Music is one of the most important things in my life, it runs pretty close to books/reading. Strangely though I can't think of many books that I've read where music has been a central theme recently.

    I remember you reviewing some of these, they all sound really good.

  2. I loved Nick & Norah, it's definitely one of my favourite books that use music! I really liked Audrey Wait too (and I love how the cover is a vinyl, it's awesome :P). Just Listen by Sarah Dessen featured music quite a lot too, and that's another book I really enjoyed. Great post! :)

  3. I loved Audrey, Wait! so much! I read it pre-bloggiing though so I didn't review it. I completely agree with you about If I Stay and Where She Went as well.

    Music actually seems really important to books which I always love.

  4. Great picks! The Sky Is Evrywhere by Jandy Nelson is another one.

  5. Jenni - Thanks. I think it's always difficult at the start to come up with a list like this, but once I got going it became easier. I've really loved all of these books!

    Liz - Just Listen! Yes, that's another great book that should have made the list :)

    Anonymous - I don't know who you are, I might have visited your blog to have a poke around. Thanks for the comment though.

    Cliona - Huh. I really loved that book, but strangely cannot recall the musical element to it at all. I always knew there'd be great books I left off the list though! :)


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