Music is much like literature; it entertains, it’s cathartic, the right song can send you into the heights of glee—the wrong, into a melancholy stupor. All these things can also be said about a book, and much like its literary counter-part, music is subjective. Just because I like Florence + the Machine doesn’t mean you will, neither would my preference for Gaston LeRoux’s book The Phantom of the Opera over its musical twin by Andrew Lloyd Weber have any effect on your own personal preference. Much like a good wine and food pairing musical preferences and reading material can blend together quite nicely, creating a smorgasbord of stimulation for your brain. Many books use music within their pages to create a fuller image for their readers. Authors like Nick Hornby, Gayle Forman, Stephenie Meyer, Rob Sheffield, and many others, have all used song lyrics or titles to further the emotional experience for their readers and create a new sensory reading of the book. All booksellers can answer the “If You Like This Book” question, but could we do it with music and apply it to a book? With that thought in mind, the Warwick’s staff was put to the test to try and match-up a few specific songs or albums to books that perfectly complement them. So this month’s edition of “If You Like This…” is devoted to music and the books that match.
If you like Blue October’s Hate Me or Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl…
Just pick-up something by Gillian Flynn. Her edgy mysteries with chronically self-flagellating, borderline psychopathic characters blend with either of these songs. I recommend listening to Blue October with (what I think is her best book) Sharp Objects, while the lyrics don’t necessarily go with the plot, the overall feeling generated by the song really goes well with the book. The Zombie really goes well with any of Flynn’s three books, but probably best with Dark Places.
On a side note, I saw a modernized production of Swan Lake that used the Zombie song and it worked tremendously well—so if you are in the mood to blend the classic with something a bit harsher this is a great way to do it.
If you like Tori Amos…
Read Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce. Amos’s ethereal tones complement the book’s blurring lines of reality, fantasy, and possible delusion. This is one artist you can softly listen to while reading the book, if you are one of those people who likes to have a little audio to accompany your reading time. I would recommend her Scarlet’s Walk album (it helps that one of the more recognizable songs from the album is called A Sorta Fairytale).
Try Charles Frazier’s latest book Nightwoods. The bluegrass sound Heroes perfectly emulates the rural setting of this rich suspense novel. Nightwoods tight narrative and eerie surroundings evoke hints of the song Hero and others on this eclectic collaborative album.
If You like Phoenix’s Lisztomania or Feist’s 1 2 3 4…
You should be reading Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer. Bear with us on this one while we explain our reasoning. While the book in no way suggests the meaning of Lisztomania (which roughly calls up the mania of Franz Liszt fans in the 19th century) something about the upbeat sound of it seems to mix brilliantly with this quirky love story. As one reviewer said about the song “…Lisztomania is nevertheless carefully and lovingly composed, breaking out the ebbs, flows, breakdowns, build-ups, and a frantic two-note intro that will exert a Pavlovian effect on fans”(Stephen Deusner, http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/11198-lizstomania/). This mash-up of sound is quite similar to the occasionally frenetic interweaving of time and space as Shine Shine Shine follows its one-of-a-kind couple of Maxon and Sunny.
If you like…a quick guide…
The Rolling Stones: You’ll like Keith Richards’ Life. Yes we know this is obvious, one of our booksellers is a smart aleck, but we love her anyway and had to include this.
Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials: Try Anita Shreve’s Strange Fits of Passion.
Johnny Cash’s Hurt: Anything by Cormac McCarthy—seriously, try it—they work together.
The Chemical Brothers: Read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson the electronic sound of this music duo is a great match with the brilliant techno geek sci-fi novel that is Snow Crash.
Don’t think a musician/song go with one of these books? Give us your ideas; we would love to hear other match-ups. The staff loves music and obviously books and is always eager to learn about new artists in both arenas.