I have a confession: if a book even marginally involves musicians, I’m in.
Maybe it’s because I sing and play instruments. Maybe it’s because I find musicians to be insanely attractive. Yes, I crush on talent. Take a normal looking bloke, give him a guitar and BAM! Total hottie. Slightly nerdy looking guy with glasses but plays piano like nobody’s business? Phew, that’s hot. But I digress.
No matter the reviews, the genre, anything, I will read a novel that involves music. Does someone in that book play an instrument? Is music at all involved in the plot, even tangentially? I’m in. I’m so so so very in.
With that in mind, I thought I’d catalogue a few of my musical favorites, for anyone out there like me. Here are a few for you to enjoy, in no particular order:
1. Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie: This relatively new novel centers on a 1970s folk singer and the rockstar she opens for. It is well-worn territory in terms of plot. We’ve got sex, we’ve got drugs, and we’ve got rock and roll. But, it is done well and was a fantastically fun read. Janie makes some more intelligent choices than other ingenues in similar positions, so that was refreshing. And the song lyrics that are part of the plot are also believable as real lyrics, which made me happy. I want to hear these songs! And I want to grab a cup of tea with Janie Q.
2. Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau: I wrote a full review of this one, you can find it here. Basically, a coming of age novel about a girl unwittingly crossing paths with a rock star. I love a coming of age novel so of course, one involving music is even better. This is a light read that gives you coming of age without a lot of complex angst.
3. The People We Keep by Allison Larkin: Another coming of age novel, this one centers more on human connection and friendship, with the music taking a back seat. The main character is a drifter, damaged by an abusive past. But it is a great testament to the power of found families and music is a through line for the novel.
4. Everything After by Jill Santopolo: What happens when your one-time flame and musical partner has a hit song on the radio and that hit song is about you? That’s the conundrum faced by the protagonist in this music-involved novel of self discovery/romance. This was a great chic-lit type read, with a dash of substance. My one complaint was the sheer cheesiness of some of the lyrics that the main character writes. Still a worthy read, despite the silliness.
5. The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton: This is another novel that I wrote a full review of, that you can check out here. Basically, the rise and fall of a 70s rock band, but add in some well-done substance involving discrimination and racial tension. The characters leap off the page. Slow to start but packs a huge punch in the end. This novel is by far the meatiest on the list and would be a great book club selection.
6. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: No list of music related books would be complete without this one. Again, the rise and fall of a 70s rock band. But this time, it resembles Fleetwood Mac. A lot. Written in the format of a Rolling Stone interview, this is a fast read that reminded me a bit of the film Almost Famous.
Is there a music-related novel that I simply must read? Please share in the comments, and I can basically guarantee I will read it.