Read to the Rhythm with Books About Music

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Celebrate this year’s Read to the Rhythm Adult Summer Reading Challenge by reading about your favorite composers, artists, and genres.  Also, if you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that right here and log your first activity after reading this post. The Adult Summer Reading Challenge is super simple where you log, online, five library or reading activities, which gives the chance to win a fabulous grand prize. Here are a few recommendations that will move your soul and make your brain jump for joy!

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Call Number: FIC CHABON, M

New York Times bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon has transported readers to wonderful places: to New York City during the Golden Age of comic books (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay); to an imaginary Jewish homeland in Sitka, Alaska (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union); to discover The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Now he takes us to Telegraph Avenue in a big-hearted and exhilarating novel that explores the profoundly intertwined lives of two Oakland, California families, one black and one white. In Telegraph Avenue, Chabon lovingly creates a world grounded in pop culture—Kung Fu, ’70s Blaxploitation films, vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music—and delivers a bravura epic of friendship, race, and secret histories.

Nick & Nora’s Infinite Play List by Rachel Cohn

Call Number: YA FIC COHEN, R

Nick frequents New York’s indie rock scene nursing a broken heart. Norah is questioning all of her assumptions about the world. They have nothing in common except for their taste in music, until a chance encounter leads to an all-night quest to find a legendary band’s secret show and ends up becoming a first date that could change both their lives.

Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell

Call Number: FIC COWELL, S

The year is 1777 and the four Weber sisters, daughters of a musical family, share a crowded, artistic life in a ramshackle house. While their father scrapes by as a music copyist and their mother secretly draws up a list of prospective suitors in the kitchen, the sisters struggle with their futures, both marital and musical—until twenty-one-year-old Wolfgang Mozart walks into their lives. Bringing eighteenth-century Europe to life with unforgiving winters, yawning princes, scheming parents, and the enduring passions of young talent, Stephanie Cowell’s richly textured tale captures a remarkable historical figure—and the four young women who engage his passion, his music, and his heart.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Call Number: FIC EGAN,J

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Inez by Carlos Fuentes

Call Number: FIC FUENTES, C

In one of the narratives that comprise this superb new novel from Carlos Fuentes, we are introduced to Gabriel Atlan-Ferrara, a fabled orchestral conductor, and his great love Inez Prada, a renowned singer. In the other, Fuentes memorably delineates the very first encounter in human history between a man and a woman. In one, the intense drama of Berlioz’s music for The Damnation of Faust informs the action; in the other, we watch as a slowly emergent love shapes the nature and character of the two protagonists. A beautiful crystal seal — the meaning of which is a mystery that obsesses Atlan-Ferrara, who owns it — unites these two narratives; the magical seal allows one to read unknown languages and hear impossible music, and it is the symbol of a shared love.

High Fidelity by Nicholas Hornby

Call Number: HORNBY, NIC

Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films; top five Elvis Costello songs; top five episodes of Cheers.

Rob tries dating a singer, but maybe it’s just that he’s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think that life with kids, marriage, barbecues, and soft rock CDs might not be so bad.

Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht

Call Number: FIC LEBRECHT, N

Martin Simmonds’ father tells him, “Never trust a musician when he speaks about love.” The advice comes too late. Martin already loves Dovidl Rapoport, an eerily gifted Polish violin prodigy whose parents left him in the Simmonds’s care before they perished in the Holocaust. For a time the two boys are closer than brothers. But on the day he is to make his official debut, Dovidl disappears. Only 40 years later does Martin get his first clue about what happened to him.

Orfeo by Richard Powers

Call Number: FIC POWERS, R

In Orfeo, Powers tells the story of a man journeying into his past as he desperately flees the present. Composer Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police on his doorstep. His home microbiology lab—the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to find music in surprising patterns—has aroused the suspicions of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid, Els turns fugitive. As an Internet-fueled hysteria erupts, Els—the “Bioterrorist Bach”—pays a final visit to the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey. Through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime collaborator, Els hatches a plan to turn this disastrous collision with the security state into a work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around them.

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Call Number: FIC RACCULIA, K

Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered at the Bellweather for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, teenagers on the verge and adults haunted by memories.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Call Number: YA FIC ROWELL, R

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.

Long Gone Daddies David Wesley Williams

Call Number: FIC WILLIAMS, D

All his life, Luther Gaunt has heard songs in his head songs of sweet evil and blue ruckus, odes to ghosts, drinking hymns. In search of his past, he hits the road with his band, the Long Gone Daddies, and his grandfather’s cursed guitar, Cassie.

While his band mates just want to make it big when they get to Memphis, Luther retraces the steps of his father and grandfather, who each made the same journey with the same guitar years earlier. Malcolm Gaunt could have been Elvis that white man who could sing black except his rounder’s ways got him shot before he could strike that first note for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. At least that’s what Luther’s father Malcolm’s son always told him before he made like smoke when fame came calling and disappeared down south, too.

As Luther discovers the truth about the two generations of musicians that came before him, he must face the ghosts of history, the temptations of the road, and the fame cravings of a seriously treacherous woman named Delia, who, it turns out, can sing like an angel forsaken.

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